Wesley Swingley hopes that his research will shed some light on the possibility of life outside of our planet. 

Newsroom - Over the next two years, Swingley will lead a team of scientists on work that could help assess which distant planets observed by future space telescopes might exhibit signs of life. The research team is interested in what life might look like on “exoplanets” that orbit stars outside our solar system.

I'm going to be completely honest with you guys here. I've read that article three times and I still don't really know what Professor Swingley will be doing.

From what I gather he specializes in microbiology. Then there's a bunch of words that I don't understand. Words like cyanobacteria, which sound pretty important in figuring out where we came from.

Now the professor will be looking for this cyanobacteria in space, hoping to link those discoveries to what we've observed here on earth.

Again, this is probably way, way, way, way oversimplified and I sincerely apologize to Professor Swingley if I have mischaracterized any of his research. Please go ahead and read the article yourself.

No matter what, a grant worth over a quarter billion dollars is a pretty significant deal for the professor and NIU. Hopefully, they'll find what they're looking for and Dekalb can be the center of the science universe for a little while.