LAS professors bring honor and recognition to the college.
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Julie Dowling, professor of Latina/Latino studies, was awarded an honorable mention for the Oliver Cromwell Cox Book Award at the American Sociological Association (ASA) meetings for her recent book, Mexican Americans and the Question of Race. The award is given by ASA’s Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities for the most outstanding book on sociology of race and ethnicity.
Joy Harjo, professor of English and American Indian Studies, has been awarded the Wallace Stevens Award, the highest honor granted by the Academy of American Poets. The award, which carries a $100,000 stipend, is given annually to recognize outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry. Harjo has written numerous books and won several awards for her poetry.
Leanne K. Knobloch, professor of communication, has been named a 2015 University Scholar. Knobloch researches how people communicate in close relationships, focusing on periods of transition for couples. Her expertise is being relied upon at very high levels of the military.
Emad Tajkhorshid, professor of biochemistry, biophysics, computational biology, and pharmacology, has been named a 2015 University Scholar. He has a spectacular record in biomedical sciences with remarkable productivity in the areas of computational biology, biophysics, and membrane proteins. His extensive research program is housed in the prestigious Beckman Institute and in the cross-campus interdisciplinary Center for Biophysics and Quantitative Biology located in Urbana.
James Best was elected a 2015 fellow of the American Geophysical Union. As a fellow, Best is recognized as someone whose has made exceptional contributions to Earth and space sciences. Best is the Jack and Richard Threet Professor of Geology and a professor of Geography and Geographic Information Science.
Six professors in or affiliated with the College of LAS have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors a scientist can receive. Renée Baillargeon, professor of psychology; Gary Dell, professor of psychology; Catherine Murphy, professor of chemistry; Steve Granick, professor emeritus of materials science and engineering (and affiliated with the departments of chemistry and chemical and biomolecular engineering); Taekjip Ha, professor of physics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator; and John Rogers, professor of materials science and engineering (and affiliated with the Department of Chemistry) were among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates announced by the Academy.
Sara McLafferty, professor and department head of geography and geographic information sciences, recently won the prestigious 2015 Melinda S. Meade Distinguished Scholarship Award in Health and Medical Geography from the American Association of Geographers. This award recognizes her contributions in research, teaching, and decades of service in the field.
Ryan Foley, professor of astronomy and physics, received a 2015 Sloan Research Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The two-year program awards the fellows $50,000 to pursue their choice of research topics and gives the researchers flexibility in applying funds toward their research. Foley studies exploding stars and other celestial transient objects. He discovered and characterized a peculiar class of exploding stars, Type Iax supernovae. He also uses Type Ia supernovae to measure the expansion and investigate the content of the universe.
Alison Fout, professor of chemistry, received a 2015 Sloan Research Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The two-year program awards the fellows $50,000 to pursue their choice of research topics and gives the researchers flexibility in applying funds toward their research. Fout focuses on addressing environmental, biological, and energy problems by designing transition metal complexes and catalysts to understand the activation and transformation of greenhouse gases into novel compounds.
Elizabeth Lowe, professor and director of the Center for Translation Studies, was nominated for the 2015 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in the Portuguese category. She translated The Only Happy Ending for a Love Story is an Accident, by J.P. Cuenca, a Brazilian author. The award is presented annually for a novel written or translated into English and is the world's most valuable ($124,500) annual literary prize for a single work of fiction published in English.
Javier Irigoyen-Garcia, associate professor of Spanish, received an honorable mention in the competition for the Modern Language Association’s 2014 Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize for his book The Spanish Arcadia: Sheep Herding, Pastoral Discourse, and Ethnicity in Early Modern Spain.
Antoinette Burton, professor of history, Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies, professor of gender and women’s studies, and interim head of the Department of Sociology, received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, a prestigious award given to faculty and scholars for advanced research. Her project is “Wars Against Nature? Environmental Fictions of the First Anglo-Afghan Wars.” Burton’s history is the first to argue that representations of Afghanistan’s difficult terrain served as a strategic fiction that allowed the British to blame their limited success in subduing the region in the 19th century on its hostile environment rather than on Afghan fighters.
Robert Morrissey, professor of history, received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, a prestigious award given to faculty and scholars for advanced research. His project is “The Illinois and the Edge Effect: Bison Algonquians in the Colonial Mississippi Valley,” the first ethnohistory and environmental history of the Illinois Indians and their neighbors from 1200 to 1850.
Timothy Pauketat, professor of anthropology and of medieval studies, received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, a prestigious award given to faculty and scholars for advanced research. His project is “Spirits, Birds, and Luminous Beings: Reconceptualizing Ancient Urbanism.” Pauketat reimagines the future of urbanism by looking back at some of the world’s most ancient cities, using new theories and even newer archaeological evidence from the ruins of cities and city-like places in Neolithic China, Africa, and the Americas before 1492.
François Proulx, professor of French, received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, a prestigious award given to faculty and scholars for advanced research. His project is “Reading and French Masculinity at the Fin de Siècle.” Proulx investigates young men’s reading habits as a subject of grave social concern in fin-de-siècle (end of the century) France.
Valeria Sobol, professor of Slavic languages and literatures, received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, a prestigious award given to faculty and scholars for advanced research. Her project is “Visions of Empire in Russian Gothic Literature, 1790-1850.” Sobol investigates the connection between the Gothic elements of many Russian literary works and their imperial context.
Brendan Harley, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a prestigious scientific society composed of those who have made outstanding contributions to their field. Harley was selected for his contributions to the fields of biomaterials and tissue engineering. His research focuses on developing advanced biomaterials that replicate dynamic, varying environments found in the body.
Phillip Newmark, professor of cell and developmental biology, was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a prestigious scientific society composed of those who have made outstanding contributions to their field. Newmark was cited for his work in developmental biology, with particular emphasis on regeneration and germ cell development in flatworms, which carry profound implications for the field of regenerative medicine by their ability to regenerate from just a small sample of tissue.
Carla Caceres, professor of animal biology and director of the School of Integrative Biology, was one of five faculty members named a 2014-15 fellow of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation’s Academic Leadership Program. The program provides leadership devevlopment for accomplished faculty members interested in learning more about academic administration.
Gilberto Rosas, assistant professor of Latina and Latino studies and anthropology, and affiliate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and global studies, received the Association of Latino Anthropologists Book Award for his book, Barrio Libre. In his book, Rosas writes about his research on members of Barrio Libre and security and criminality on both sides of the United States-Mexico border.
Julie Dowling, professor of Latina and Latino studies, was named by the U.S. Census Bureau to its National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations. Dowling has done extensive research on the racial identification of Latinos in the U.S., including how regional context affects Latinos’ racial responses on the U.S. census. The national advisory committee advises the Census Bureau on a wide range of variables that affect the cost, accuracy, and implementation of its programs and surveys, including the once-a-decade census.
May Berenbaum, head and professor of entomology, has been awarded the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest honor for achievement and leadership in advancing the field of science. The National Medal of Science was created in 1959 and is awarded annually to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering.
Christopher C. Fennell, a professor of anthropology, has been named a University Scholar for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. Fennell is an archaeologist with specializations in historical archaeology and the archaeology of the African Diaspora. He has written an award-winning book, and is a well-known speaker, lawyer, and legal scholar.
Brian D. Fields, a professor of astronomy, has been named a University Scholar for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. Fields is a theorist who works on nuclear and particle astrophysics. His work crosses between astronomy, nuclear physics, and geology. One of his research areas includes cosmological nucleosynthesis, the creation of the elements by nuclear reactions in the aftermath of the Big Bang.
Paul J. Hergenrother, a professor of chemistry, has been named a University Scholar for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. Hergenrother is an expert in the molecular basis of disease. He has made significant advances in the way new medicines are discovered and developed, using readily available natural products as the starting point for complex molecule synthesis. His discoveries impact not only basic scientific research but also the lives of cancer patients.
Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, associate professor of history, sociology, and global studies, received a Conrad Humanities Scholar Award. These awards, funded by a gift from Arlys Conrad, are designed to support the work of exceptionally promising associate professors in humanities units within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, with the aim of enhancing retention of the University’s strongest scholarly leaders.
Martha Gillette, professor of cell and developmental biology, received an Early Concept Grant for Exploratory Research, awarded by the National Science Foundation to enable new technologies to better understand how complex behaviors emerge from the activity of brain circuits. The $300,000 grant enables researchers to develop a range of conceptual and physical tools.
Joy Harjo, professor of American Indian studies and English, received the first Black Earth Institute Award, given to an artist who best exemplifies the goals and mission of the institute in their work and life. BEI is dedicated to having art create a more deeply connected and socially just world, protect the planet, and celebrate the human spirit in all peoples.
Prashant Jain, assistant professor of chemistry, has been named a recipient of the Beckman Young Investigator Award from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. This award of $750,000 over four years is “intended to provide research support to the most promising young faculty members in the early stages of academic careers in the chemical and life sciences particularly to foster the invention of methods, instruments, and materials that will open up new avenues of research in science.” Jain received the award for his work on nanoscale imaging of catalysts in action.
Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, Swanlund Professor of Chemistry, has been elected a member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science. Her research focuses on chemical reactions in solution, in proteins, and at electrochemical surfaces, particularly the transfer of charged particles driving many chemical and biological processes.
So Hirata, Alumni Research Scholar in Chemistry, has been elected a member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science. His research focuses on the development of new many-body theories describing concerted motions of electrons in atoms and molecules in the gas and condensed phases and in crystalline solids.
Scott Althaus, professor of political science and communication, has been selected to receive a fellowship with research support that will enable him to pursue a collaborative project with the researchers and computer technology experts at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Althaus will focus on “Building a Non-Consumptive Global News Observatory for Data Science Research.”
Taras Pogorelov, research assistant professor of chemistry, has been selected to receive a fellowship with research support that will enable him to pursue a collaborative project with the researchers and computer technology experts at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Pogorelov will focus on “An Open Environment for Automation of Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Membrane-Active Host Defense Peptides.”
Jeffrey Moore, the Murchison-Mallory Professor of Chemistry, has been named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) professor. This distinction honors respected researchers who are transforming education within their fields. Moore will receive a five-year grant from HHMI. He has been instrumental in course design for organic chemistry at Illinois, using online resources and webcasts rather than traditional lectures or textbooks, and Web-based conferencing technology for live, interactive discussion sessions.
Brendan Harley, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, received the Young Investigator Award of the Society of Biomaterials for demonstrating exceptional accomplishments in the field within 10 years of earning a doctorate. Harley’s team has focused on pioneering approaches to create biomaterials that replicate the form and function of inhomogenous structures in the body.
Susan Kieffer, Walgreen Chair and Center for Advanced Study Professor of Geology, will receive the 2014 Penrose Medal of the Geological Society of America. This is the highest award offered by the main society of geologists in the western hemisphere. The Penrose Medal recognizes “outstanding original contributions or achievements that mark a major advance in the science of geology.” Kieffer is the first woman ever to receive this award, which has been offered annually since 1927.
Jonathan Sweedler, the James R. Eiszner Family Chair in Chemistry and the director of the School of Chemical Sciences, won the Malcolm E. Pruitt Award from the Council for Chemical Research, in recognition of outstanding individual contributions to the progress of chemistry and chemical engineering by promotion of mutually beneficial interactions among universities, the chemical industry, and government. His research interests are in bioanalytical chemistry and he is investigating the roles that peptide hormones, neurotransmitters, and neuromodulatory agents play in behavior, learning, and memory.
Thomas Rauchfuss, professor of chemistry, won the Ronald Nyholm Prize, given biennially by the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) for outstanding contributions to inorganic chemistry. His research focuses on all aspects of the synthesis and reactivity of inorganic, organometallic, and main-group compounds and materials.
Martin Burke, associate professor of chemistry, won the 2014 Thieme IUPAC Prize in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. This prize is awarded to a scientist under 40 whose research has had a major impact in synthetic organic chemistry. Burke’s research interests in organic chemistry focus on the synthesis and study of small molecules with protein-like functions.
Martin Burke, associate professor of chemistry, won the 2014 Yoshimasa Hirata Gold Medal, which is sponsored by the Hirata Memorial Foundation and Nagoya University. It is awarded for excellence in synthetic organic chemistry, and the medalist gives a lecture at Nagoya University. Burke’s research interests in organic chemistry focus on the synthesis and study of small molecules with protein-like functions.
Wilfred van der Donk, the Richard E. Heckert Endowed Chair in Chemistry, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the longest-standing honorary societies in the nation. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and focuses on harnessing enzyme functions for the discovery and design of new anti-inflammatory agents and antibiotics, particularly the activity and synthesis of lantibiotics and phosphonate antibiotics, with the aim of using natural synthesis pathways to find new compounds or enhance the medical properties of known compounds.
John Rogers, professor of chemistry and materials science and engineering, as well as the Swandlund Chair of Materials Science and Engineering, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has pioneered flexible, stretchable electronics, creating pliable products such as cameras with curved retinas, medical monitors in the form of temporary tattoos, a soft sock that can wrap an arrhythmic heart in electronic sensors and LED strips thin enough to be implanted directly into the brain to illuminate neural pathways. His work in photovoltaics serves as the basis for commercial modules that hold the current world record in efficiency.
Dale Bauer, professor of English and gender and women’s studies, has been honored with the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Her teaching endeavors to demystify the relationship between theory and practice: Students in her classes come to understand why they read the way they do, and how their writing about what they read relates to—and can challenge—conventional ways of knowing literary texts.
Christopher Benson, associate professor of African American studies and journalism, has been honored with the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. His students develop critical thinking skills and a keen sense of social context for the work they will undertake as professionals. His goal is to “provide a solid foundation for social responsibility and media literacy.” To achieve this, Benson teaches his students how “to provide information that is fair, accurate, balanced and contextual in order to facilitate more enlightened public choices.”
Tamara Chaplin, associate professor of history, French, and gender and women’s studies, has been awarded with the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. “A mesmerizing presence on the lecture stage,” she seeks to instill in students“the kind of insatiable hunger for learning that propels all inspired scholarship.” Her lectures and discussions continue to shape the thinking of her former students, in large part because she shows students what they are capable of. In short, Chaplin teaches her students to learn how to learn.
Donald DeCoste, a specialist in education in the department of chemistry, has been honored with the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. His goals in teaching are that students should “understand the materials at a conceptual level and understand the nature of science.” His highest compliment from a student: “I am trying to teach myself how to ask the same questions you do in a lecture, so that I don’t need you anymore.”
Jennifer McNeilly, instructor and director of the Merit Workshop Program in the department of mathematics, has been awarded with the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. She teaches scores of undergraduates but also trains graduate teaching assistants for undergraduate mathematics courses, leads sessions on pedagogy for math teachers around the state and has “virtually single-handedly” been responsible for the growth and achievements of the Merit Workshop Program during the past 10 years.
Mardia Bishop, director of public speaking instruction in the department of communication, has been awarded with the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. She manages to make public speaking manageable and enjoyable—even for those terrified of it. She has a way of bringing all students, who come from a variety of backgrounds, up to the same level, and presents the material in a way that makes her class interesting and accessible. She embodies “everything a student would want and need in a professor: intelligence, passion, and affability.”
Asef Bayat, professor of sociology and the Catherine C. and Bruce A. Bastian Professor in Global and Transnational Studies, has been named a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, among 178 North American artists, scholars, and scientists selected on the basis of achievement and exceptional promise. Bayat specializes in the study of social movements, urban politics, and political Islam in the Middle East. Bayat has been active in following the ongoing changes in the region, last year publishing an update of Life as Politics, as well as editing the book Post-Islamism: The Changing Faces of Political Islam.
Catherine Prendergast, professor of English and an affiliate of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center, has been named a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, among 178 North American artists, scholars, and scientists selected on the basis of achievement and exceptional promise. Her research is on cultural contested terrain, such as anxieties over the global spread of English, arguments over grammatical correctness, and battles over multicultural literacy in the wake of school desegregation. She will use her Guggenheim Fellowship to complete her book, Writer, Painter, Banker, Thief: The American Arts Colony in the Public Account.