Making Their Mark

A new documentary premiering on the Big Ten Network features three extraordinary women at the University of Illinois. Making Their Mark will air on BTN, Friday, September 25 at 8 pm CT / 9 pm ET following the Illinois vs. Maryland Women’s Volleyball match. The 30-minute program profiles athlete Jean Driscoll, entomologist May Berenbaum and computer artist Donna Cox.

The program shows how Jean Driscoll uses sport to change lives. Driscoll’s wheelchair racing wins include two Olympic medals and 12 Paralympic medals. Driscoll also was the first person to win the Boston Marathon eight times. When she retired from racing in 2000, she started helping those with disabilities in Ghana, West Africa. On her first visit to Ghana in 2001, she witnessed the harsh conditions and discrimination faced by people with disabilities in that country. She conducted several wheelchair racing clinics in Ghana that led to that country’s first ever Paralympic team. She even helped bring two coaches and eight athletes from Ghana to Illinois for training with the Illinois team. Driscoll currently is the Senior Director of Development in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

President Obama awarded Professor May Berenbaum the National Medal of Science for her life’s work in entomological research. Berenbaum is internationally known for her work investigating the recent honeybee crisis, and her research has yielded important new insights into the evolutionary relationships between insects and their host plants. She is a prolific researcher, author and editor, and has written six popular books about insect life, history and lore. More than 30 years ago, Berenbaum founded the Insect Fear Film Festival, an annual celebration of insect-monster movies. The films always draw a crowd, and offer her a perfect venue for teaching her audience about the science behind the six-legged stars of the screen.

Also featured in Making Their Mark is pioneering computer artist and Academy Award nominee, Donna Cox, a professor in the School of Art and Design. Cox explains how she was inspired by nature to become an artist while growing up in rural Oklahoma. She directs a team at Illinois’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications that creates scientific visualizations from supercomputer data. Her team’s work has appeared in feature films, planetarium shows and television documentaries. One of her most recent productions is Solar Superstorms (narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch), which takes viewers on a stunning visual journey to the center of the sun.

Making Their Mark was produced by Tim Hartin, Kaitlin Southworth and Alison Davis Wood for the university’s Office of Public Affairs and Division of Intercollegiate Athletics.