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University of Iowa News Release


March 14, 2007

UI Women In Science And Engineering Program Sends Advice Into Space

When NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson rides aboard a Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station in October, she will carry with her words of wisdom from the University of Iowa Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Program.

That's because one of her personal effects during her scheduled six-month mission aboard the space station will be a 12-by-18-inch piece of handmade paper bearing words of advice from WISE students and staff members. Chris Brus, director of WISE, says the activity is inspirational and came about rather unexpectedly.

"We were contacted last fall by Whitson's mother, Beth, who was asking Iowa groups whether they wanted to send into space items that might encourage students to pursue math, science and engineering," she says. "We asked that students and staff members submit words of advice and had Cheryl Jacobsen, an adjunct assistant professor with the UI Center for the Book, use calligraphy to write the sayings."

"I felt very honored to be asked," Jacobsen says, adding that she gets a lot of unusual jobs, including a commission to do a 55-page book on calfskin. "But this is unusual because of where it's going; this is the project that will go the farthest."

Jacobsen says one of the quotes she finds most inspiring is: "Take an extra share of the responsibility to better humanity," by Padmini Srinivasan, professor in the UI School of Library and Information Science and WISE board member.

Jessica White, a graduate student with the Center for the Book and the School of Art and Art History, made the paper.

Brus says that when the piece of paper returns from space, it will carry an affidavit certifying that it was aboard the space station. "This is a very personal piece. We'll frame it and keep it on display here at WISE for all of our students to see," she says. Brus adds that the piece of paper isn't the only source of inspiration for her students.

"Peggy is originally from rural Iowa -- Mount Ayr -- and we use her as a great role model," Brus says.

For further information about WISE, contact Chris Brus, director, at (319) 335-3530 or at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,