Hyunjoon (Joon) Kong, a leader in research on multi-cellular engineered living cell systems, has been named the Robert W. Schaefer Professor in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering. The awarded position is named after an Illinois alumnus who graduated with a degree in chemical engineering in 1956 and was a great supporter of University of Illinois throughout his life.
Kong has been at the university since 2007 in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering. He is also affiliated with the Departments of Bioengineering, Mechanical Science and Engineering, and Pathobiology; the Neuroscience Program; and the Center for Biophysics and Quantitative Biology.
Kong has authored and coauthored more than 170 research papers and more than eight issued and pending patent applications. He has received multiple research awards, and also serves as a member of the international editorial board of Biofabrication, and as an associate editor of Biomaterials Research.
“It’s impossible to measure the impact Joon has had and will continue to have on our students and on our community,” said Venetria Patton, the Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of LAS.
The awarded position is named after the late Robert Schaefer (BS, ’56, chemical engineering) who was a great supporter of the U of I throughout his life. After graduation from U of I, Schaefer served in the U.S. Navy in the Atlantic Fleet. He later joined the Monsanto Company in St. Louis, where he was part of the team which introduced I-Dopa, the break-through Parkinson’s disease drug to the marketplace. After retiring in 1988, Schaefer traveled the world and served on the board of many organizations.
At the ceremony, speakers described the groundbreaking work that Kong and his students conduct every day. He was described as an outstanding teacher and researcher who has pushed forward new ideas in regards to fighting disease, and who has prepared students for their own professional roles.