University News

WIU Theme Speakers Series

August 30, 2011

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- Leroy Chiao, an astronaut and former commander of the International Space Station, will discuss recent scientific and technological advances and the importance of multicultural collaboration as they apply to space exploration as part of the Western Illinois University Theme Speakers Series. The 2011-2012 Universitywide theme is Science and Technology: Discover, Innovate, Create.

Chiao will speak at noon Monday, Sept. 12 in Room 102 on the WIU-Quad Cities 60th Street campus in Moline, and at 7 p.m. in the University Union Grand Ballroom on the WIU-Macomb campus. The presentations are open free to the public.

Chiao is currently serving as the first Raborn Distinguished Chair Professor at Louisiana State University and is a director of the Challenger Center. He also serves as the official spokesperson for the Heinlein Prize Trust, and is the leader of its "Have Spacesuit Will Travel" educational program.

As an eight-year-old boy, Chiao watched the first Apollo moon landing in awe and dreamed of one day exploring space himself. He was invited by NASA to join the Astronaut Corps in 1990. Four years later, he realized his boyhood dream when he flew on his first space mission aboard Space Shuttle Columbia.

Over the next 15 years, he distinguished himself at NASA, flying on four space missions. He has flown three Space Shuttle missions, and has served as the commander and NASA Science Officer of Expedition X, a six-and-a-half month mission aboard the International Space Station. On that flight, he was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. He returned when the Soyuz spacecraft parachuted to a safe landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan. Chiao has logged more 229 days in space, of which more than 36 hours were spent in extra-vehicular activity (EVA, or spacewalks).

The next scheduled speaker is Dr. Gary Telgenhoff, a forensic psychologist and consultant for "CSI" and "Bones." Telgenhoff will discuss the real world application of science and technology to the field of forensics and criminal investigations at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7 on the WIU-Macomb campus.

For more information about the University Theme Speaker Series, contact Ann Comerford at or Colin Harbke at

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