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Marni Boppart

Marni Boppart

Professor of Kinesiology and Community Health | Beckman Vision and Spirit Award winner

Her welcome-to-campus moment came in 1993, when a fellow future UI professor she’d met in the Air Force in Texas brought Marni Boppart back to his alma mater and popped the question on the Quad.

“We were married in St. John Catholic Church and had our reception at the Levis Center on New Year’s Eve in 1994,” she says.

Six years later, after she finished up her Ph.D. in anatomy and physiology at Boston University and Harvard Medical School, Marni and Stephen Boppart moved to C-U to stay, racking up a bunch of plaudits and promotions since.

He’s a professor in the Grainger College of Engineering and associate dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine who comes from a long line of Illini.

She’s a recently promoted professor of kinesiology and community health and recently inducted fellow in the American Physiological Society who leads the Extracellular Vesicles in Imaging and Therapy working group at the Beckman Institute.

A Beckman Vision and Spirit Award-winning mother of three whose oldest, Lexi, is a UI junior, Boppart took us on a guided virtual tour of some of her favorite places and spaces on and around campus.

Where I went on my faculty job interview

Now-dean of the Graduate College, Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, took me to Espresso Royale for coffee to discuss the terms of my contract.

I was so excited that I remember saying “Oh, that’s right, I’m going to earn a salary” when he asked how much I was hoping to earn.

Clearly, salary wasn’t very important.

The first place I’d take a campus newcomer I wanted to impress

After a tour of the Beckman Institute — including the new MRI exhibit and fifth-floor Tower Room — and a walk through the quads, I would take a visitor to my home department in Freer Hall.

We just built a state-of-the-art fitness facility in the new Freer Annex that allows faculty to conduct exercise experiments with volunteers.

It is spacious and inspires you to exercise.

My favorite place to think

My work requires me to be on the computer all day, yet I study exercise. I always take a break halfway through the day to walk across campus while reading a journal article, revising a draft manuscript or thinking deeply about one of our projects.

I do my most creative thinking while I walk. I also think my hardest in the lecture hall, this semester in David Kinley Hall. Great to be back in the classroom.

My go-to entertainment spot

No other place I would rather be than the State Farm Center watching Illini basketball.

Zach Griffith — Illini basketball, Class of 2021 — is now a graduate student in my lab, which is really fun.

Favorite place to grab a bite to eat

Bread Company for a light lunch of soup and salad. It always tastes homemade.

Or Sakanaya, if we can get in, for a signature roll and salmon teriyaki.

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