Inaugural Graduate Student Expo Showcases Research


Valery Kharina, DPT ’14 (center) and Katy Garber, DPT ’14 discuss their award-winning project with fellow physical therapy student Samson Nguyen, DPT ’15 at the Graduate School Expo. The pair won the President’s Award for their work studying how rocker bottom shoes affect gait and potentially offer relief for certain types of foot pain. Dr. Dawn Hall and Dr. Melissa Neuhalfen Peterson ’95 were their faculty mentors.

Each year, Bradley University hosts an event for graduate and undergraduate students highlighting research collaborations on campus. Students develop posters featuring their work with professors and make 10- to 12-minute presentations that are judged by professionals in their fields from the community and other institutions of higher education. Students can work individually with professors on projects or with other students, and projects often last multiple semesters.  

For the first time, a separate Expo focused specifically on graduate student research. Held March 11–14, it showcased 28 graduate projects by 44 students engaged in research and creative activities. At the Expo Award Ceremony on April 18 in the Renaissance Coliseum, Dr. Jeff Bakken, associate provost for research and dean of the Graduate School, said the inaugural Expo featured “the best presentations I have seen in my career.” He encouraged graduate students to “get excited, get involved, and advance your knowledge and skills.”

Laura Nicklaus ’11, an environmental engineer at John Deere, also addressed the graduate students. Advising them to seize today’s opportunities and continue to say “yes” to future opportunities, she said her position at Deere with environmental compliance responsibilities “helped me close the loop between my professional and educational experience. Knowing that my research at Bradley contributed to the process of hazardous waste disposal is a great reward.” 


Watch highlights of both expos and the awards presentation at bradley.edu/go/ht-Expo13. Visit bradley.edu/go/ht-GradExpo13 for a complete list of award-winning research projects.

Katy Garber, DPT ’14 and Valery Kharina, DPT ’14 won the President’s Award with their presentation, “Effects of Rocker Bottom Shoes on Pressure Distribution.” Joseph Ganske, DPT ’14 and Hope Schulte, DPT ’14 won the Provost’s Award with their presentation, “The Effect of Text Messaging on Reactive Balance and the Temporal and Spatial Characteristics of Gait in Unimpaired Individuals.” Each college also presented a Dean’s Award as well as an honorable mention award.

— K.M.



Priceline.com founding member and former CEO Jeff Hoffman challenged would-be entrepreneurs at the spring commencement to come up with a new product he would back: a more comfortable graduation robe.

Spring Commencement Challenge

The class of 2013 didn’t end its education with May commencement, according to entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman, who said the graduates’ educations were only beginning. 

“It is the start of your education today. What you learned at Bradley was how to learn,” the founding member and former CEO of Priceline.com noted. “You learned critical thinking. You learned how to make a point, how to listen and work as part of a team.” 

He also encouraged students to concentrate their efforts on what makes them happy, not on what will make them rich. “Make career choices based upon your passion and your interests, not on what everyone else is telling you,” Hoffman said, adding that now is the time for them to take risks and try new things. A serial entrepreneur who has started numerous businesses, Hoffman was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. 

At a separate ceremony, Keith Steffen (right), president and CEO of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, also told graduate students that learning and discovery don’t stop after earning a degree, and that the University has equipped them for new challenges and opportunities.

A total of 855 undergraduate degrees and 157 graduate degrees were awarded.


Watch the keynote addresses from both commencement ceremonies at bradley.edu/go/ht-MayGrad2013.

— B.G.