Northeastern's 2017 Lincoln Academy Student Laureate Cesar Bustos

Monday, November 6, 2017

Northeastern Illinois University has named Cesar Bustos its 2017 Lincoln Academy Student Laureate.

The student laureates from around the state will be honored during a Nov. 11 ceremony and luncheon at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site.

“Cesar entered as a freshman in 2011 and was placed in developmental Mathematics and English courses,” said Professor of Physics Paulo Acioli, who nominated Bustos for the award. “This is a particularly challenging road for a student to succeed in majoring in a STEM discipline. Nevertheless, Cesar persevered and is en route to graduate with distinction as a double major in Physics and Mathematics combined with an Earth Science minor.”

Acioli first met Bustos in his PHYS 206L course, a class recently modified to use a non-standard textbook and using computations as an integral part of the course. The main idea is to emphasize that all moving objects can be explained by a small set of principles known as Newton’s laws.

“Cesar performed spectacularly in the class,” Acioli said. “In particular, I should emphasize that Cesar was one of the most engaged students in the class, a trait that carries over to his extracurricular activities at the University and beyond.”

Those extracurricular activities include presiding over the Earth Science Club, participating in the Northeastern chapters of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanic and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and the Society of Physics Students, undertaking original research, and being accepted into Northwestern University’s highly selective Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics Research Experience for Undergraduates (CIERA REU) program.

Bustos enjoyed science and started out at Northeastern as an Earth Science major, but he soon found something he liked more.

“I was good at math as a kid but got bored of it since they never taught anything new or showed us what you can do with it,” he said. “One semester I had to take Calculus I and Physics I and I just fell in love and decided to change my major. It was only until I took those two classes that I found out you are able to apply it to things around us. Since then, I changed my major and started taking more of these classes, and it turns out that I absolutely love doing these problems.”

The Order of Lincoln was established in 1964 by proclamation of Illinois Gov. Otto Kerner to honor individuals whose contributions to the betterment of humanity have been accomplished in Illinois or whose achievements have brought honor to the state.

For Bustos, the nomination means an opportunity to help.

“When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a superhero and help people and things like that. Well, I found out the devastating news that that is not going to happen,” he said. “So I opted into trying to help the society around me in any way that I possibly can. I cannot swing around the city like Spider-Man, but I could help those around me in promoting STEM to community centers and trying to get people interested in STEM.”

Bustos anticipates graduating in December and is currently applying to graduate schools.

“I plan on going into a physics Ph.D. program where I want to specialize within solid-state physics or a similar field,” he said. “I want to do research into efficiency of electronics through the investigation of materials.”