LAS professors bring honor and recognition to the college.
Have an honor you'd like to share with the Office of the Dean? Email us.
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.
Joy Harjo, professor of American Indian studies and of English, 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 teaching and research interests focus on indigenous literature, poetry, music, and theater. She will use her fellowship to complete her second memoir, Songline of Justice.
Kristin Hoganson, professor of history, has been invited to hold the Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Visiting Professorship in American Studies at Oxford University for 2015-16. Inaugurated in 1922, the professorship has been held by many of the most eminent historians of America. Since 2001, holders of the chair have been affiliated with Queen’s College, Oxford, and the Rothermere American Institute.
Ezekiel Kalipeni, professor of geography and GIScience, African studies, and LAS global studies, received the 2014 Kwadwo Konadu-Agyemang Distinguished Scholar Award in African Geography from the Africa Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers. This award honors him for “his proven track record of scholarship on Africa; for his dedication to the development of both the Africa Specialty Group and the African Geographical Review; and for his lifelong contribution to African Geographic scholarship.”
Rachel Whitaker, assistant professor of microbiology, along with her interdisciplinary, multi-institutional team, received a five-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to explore the idea of viruses and their hosts coevolving together in the lab in the model system of hot springs at Yellowstone National Park. Whitaker also plans to study microbial adaptive immunity, where a host is able to recognize infectious particles like viruses and degrade them if they are infected again.
Brendan Harley, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, received the Everitt Award for Teaching Excellence for development of an innovative elective course on tissue engineering. The Everitt Award annually recognizes one engineering faculty member for outstanding undergraduate teaching and is selected by students from the Engineering Council.
Chris Rao, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, received the College of Engineering Dean’s Excellence in Research Award for his research on topics such as infectious disease, bioenergy production, and synthetic biology. The prestigious award is given annually to four assistant professors in the College of Engineering, in recognition of their outstanding research conducted during the previous year.
Prashant Jain, assistant professor of chemistry, is one of three Illinois faculty to receive a 2014 Sloan Research Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Fellows receive $50,000 to pursue their choice of research topics, with flexibility in applying funds toward their research. Jain investigates the unique behavior of electrons, photons, and atoms in nanoscale materials.
Renee Baillargeon, professor of psychology, received the 2013 Fyssen Foundation International Prize for contributing so widely to knowledge on the theme “Human Cognitive Development.” Baillargeon’s research focuses on early conceptual development in three core domains: physical reasoning, psychological reasoning, and biological reasoning. Top of page
James R. Brennan, professor of history, has won the 2013 Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize, awarded by the African Studies Association for the best book on East African studies published the previous year. His book Taifa: Making Nation and Race in Urban Tanzania was published by Ohio University Press in 2012.
Ralph W. Mathisen, professor of history, and the editor of the Journal of Late Antiquity, has received the 2013 Codex Award for the journal. The award is given by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals for distinction within all disciplines and areas of the world covered in the ancient and medieval periods.
Sharon Hammes-Schiffer a Swanlund Professor of Chemistry, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, recognized for “scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.” Her research focuses on chemical reactions in solution, in proteins, and at electrochemical interfaces, and has applications in catalyst design for solar cells, understanding how enzymes work, protein engineering, and drug design.
Lisa Marie Cacho, associate professor of Latina/Latino studies, English, Asian American studies, and gender and women’s studies, was recently awarded the 2013 John Hope Franklin Publication Prize by the American Studies Association. The award, which recognizes the “best book in American studies,” was given for her first book, Social Death: Racialized Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the Unprotected (NYU Press, 2012).
Feisal Mohamed, professor of English, was awarded the Milton Society of America’s Irene Samuel Memorial Award, the highest honor from the society for a collection of essays, for his co-edited collection Milton and Questions of History (2012). This is the second consecutive year that he has received an award from the MSA.
Gregory S. Girolami, professor and head of chemistry, was named to the American Chemical Society’s 2013 Class of Fellows, an honor bestowed upon distinguished scientists. The fellows program, established by the ACS board of directors in 2008, recognizes ACS members for outstanding achievements in and contributions to science, the profession, and the society.
Alex Scheeline, professor emeritus of chemistry, is a co-winner of this year’s FACSS Innovation Award, given by the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies. This is a juried prize awarded to the most innovative, creative, and outstanding work that is making its world debut at a FACSS conference. Scheeline and co-author, Bui Anh Thu, from Vietnam National University of Science in Hanoi, won for the innovative use of CMOS cameras in cellphones to perform absorption, reflection, and fluorescence spectroscopy.
Jonathan Sweedler, the Lycan Professor of Chemistry and the director of the School of Chemical Sciences, won the ACS Award in Analytical Chemistry. The award recognizes “outstanding contributions to the science of analytical chemistry, pure or applied, carried out in the United States or Canada” and recognizes Sweedler’s pioneering development of methods to detect extraordinarily small quantities of neurotransmitters.
Scott Denmark, the R.C. Fuson Professor of Chemistry, won the ACS Frederic Stanley Kipping Award in Silicon Chemistry. This award recognizes “distinguished contributions to the field of silicon chemistry.” Denmark has made several important discoveries related to silicon chemistry, including palladium catalyzed cross-coupling with organosilicon compounds, enantioselective carbonyl addition reactions, and other steroselective reactions involving silicon-carbon bonds.
Phillip A. Newmark, a professor of cell and developmental biology in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, along with Bo Wang, a postdoctoral research associate with the Institute for Genomic Biology, were recognized in a recent Bio-Art competition sponsored by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Their winning image shows a tissue section of a developing Schistosoma mansoni larva living inside the muscular tentacle of its snail host.
Fred Hoxie, Swanlund professor of history, has been named the winner of the 2013 Caughey Western History Association Prize for the most distinguished book on the history of the American West. His book, This Indian Country: American Indian Activists and the Place They Made, was published in 2012 by Penguin.
Don Wuebbles, professor of atmospheric sciences, has received the Cleveland Abbe Award for Distinguished Service to the Atmospheric Sciences. The award, given by the American Meterological Society, is “for tireless and highly effective contributions to the society through rigorous scientific analysis and distinguished public engagement.”
Scott Ahlgren, professor of mathematics, has been recognized as a University Scholar. The program recognizes excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. He conducts research on modular forms, best known for their role in Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. He is a consummate number theorist, engaging successfully with difficult and important classical and modern problems.
Susan A. Martinis, professor of biochemistry, has been recognized as a University Scholar. The program recognizes excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. Her research explores the function of cellular macromolecules, particularly RNA and its interaction with proteins. This has proven to be a pivotal area in evolutionary biology.
Silvina Montrul, professor of Spanish and Portuguese, and of linguistics, has been recognized as a University Scholar. The program recognizes excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. Her research focuses on the broad question of the nature of the linguistic knowledge of speakers who possess varying degrees of competency in more than one language, and what that research reveals about the mental representation of grammars in the mind.
Stephen Long, Gutgsell Professor in plant biology, has been appointed by the Center for Advanced Study to its permanent faculty. This is one of the highest honors the University of Illinois campus bestows for outstanding scholarship. Long studies photosynthetic efficiency, focusing on global change. He has led the development of SoyFACE and the Urbana-campus component of the biofuels research initiative, Energy Biosciences Institute. He now directs projects funded by the Gates Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Jonathan Sweedler, Eiszner Family Professor of Chemistry, has been appointed by the Center for Advanced Study to its permanent faculty. This is one of the highest honors the University of Illinois campus bestows for outstanding scholarship. His research emphasis is on analytical neurochemistry, focusing on investigating the roles that peptide hormones, neurotransmitters and neuromodulatory agents play in behavior, learning, and memory.
Maria Todorova, Gutgsell Professor of history, has been appointed by the Center for Advanced Study to its permanent faculty. This is one of the highest honors the University of Illinois campus bestows for outstanding scholarship. Her research focuses on the symbolism of nationalism, national memory, and national heroes in Bulgaria and the Balkans, as well as problems of socialism and post-communism.
Dina Zinnes, professor emerita of political science, has won two awards for her career and scholarship. In October, the Peace Science Society will award her its Founder’s Medal. The medal is given every four years to an “individual who has made significant and distinguished lifelong scientific contributions to peace science.” In March 2014, the International Studies Association will present Zinnes with its Susan Strange Award, given annually to recognize “a person whose singular intellect, assertiveness, and insight most challenge conventional wisdom and intellectual and organizational complacency in the international studies community.”
Mary Kraft, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, is the recipient of the 2014 Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She has made important discoveries related to the sphingolipid and cholesterol organization in cell membranes that have major implications for our understanding of plasma membrane organization.
Gene Robinson, Swanlund Chair of entomology, is the recipient of the Animal Behavior Society’s 2013 Distinguished Animal Behaviorist award. The Animal Behavior Society was founded in 1964 to advocate for the study of animal behavior in both the field and the laboratory. Robinson is best known for his studies of the mechanisms and evolution of social behavior in the Western honey bee.
Marshall Scott Poole, professor of communication and director of the Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, received the 2013 Joseph E. McGrath Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Study of Groups. The award, granted by the Interdisciplinary Network for Group Research, recognizes someone “whose work has shown an enduring commitment to advancing the interdisciplinary science of team or small group behavior, dynamics, and outcomes.”
Gene Robinson, Swanlund Chair of entomology and director of the Institute for Genomic Biology, will receive the iBIO Institute’s 2013 iCON Innovator Award for excellence in teaching and scholarship. Established by the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization, the iBIO Institute works to educate students and teachers about the biotech industry as well as provide specialized resources for Illinois-based startups.
Prashant Jain, professor of chemistry, is one of 14 professors who will receive the 2013 DuPont Young Professor Award. The grant program fosters promising young and untenured research faculty members.
Bruce Michelson, professor of English, has been named a Fulbright grantee for 2013-2014. He will embark on an educational exchange with the University of Antwerp, where he will serve as Fulbright Professor of American Studies. His duties will include leading seminars on American writers and the cultural impact of the sciences of the mind, giving guest lectures, and working on a new book. Michelson is director of the Campus Honors Program. He is also president of the American Humor Studies Association and past president of the Mark Twain Circle of America.
Martin Gruebele, the James R. Eiszner Endowed Chair in Chemistry, has been elected a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences. Election to the NAS is one of the highest professional honors a scientist can garner. Using laser manipulation techniques and computational modeling, his work has increased the understanding of protein folding in the test tube and in living cells, how energy flows through molecules, and how glass surfaces morph and move.
Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, a Swanlund Professor of Chemistry, has been elected a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences. Election to the NAS is one of the highest professional honors a scientist can garner. A world leader in theoretical and computational chemistry, her research focuses on chemical reactions in solution, in proteins, and at electrochemical interfaces, particularly the transfer of charged particles driving many chemical and biological processes.
Stephen P. Long, the Gutgsell Endowed Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences and a member of the Institute for Genomic Biology, has been elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of London, the world’s oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Members are elected for life on the basis of excellence in science, via a thorough peer review process. Long has been recognized for his leadership in research on the limits to photosynthetic productivity of crops, and how these are altered by global atmospheric change.
Eleonora Stoppino, associate professor of French and Italian, received the American Association for Italian Studies Book Prize for 2012 in the category Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque, for her work, Genealogies of Fiction (Fordham UP, 2012). Genealogies of Fiction is a study of gender, dynastic politics, and intertextuality in medieval and renaissance chivalric epic, focused on Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando furioso.
Kirk Sanders, associate professor of Classics, has been named a recipient of the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. The peer-nominated awards recognize professors, instructional staff members and graduate teaching assistants who display consistently excellent performance in the classroom, take innovative approaches to teaching, positively affect the lives of their students, and make other contributions to improve instruction, including influencing the curriculum.
Frederick Hoxie, Swanlund Professor of History, has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, the academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Hoxie has published more than a dozen books on U.S. Indian policy, the history of Native American communities, and the meaning of indigenous history in modern society.
Michael Kraus, assistant professor of psychology, has been named a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to the advancement of scientific psychology and its representation at the national and international level.
Brendan Harley, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, has received a five-year National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award, which will allow Harley and his research team to develop a synthetic bone marrow biomaterial to aid the study of hematopoiesis and hematopoietic diseases.
Barry Pittendrigh, professor of entomology, and co-founder of Scientific Animations Without Borders, received the team award for the 2013 Campus Awards for Excellence in Public Engagement for SAWBO. The SAWBO initiative has so far produced educational materials on more than a dozen topics related to health, agriculture, sustainability, and entrepreneurship that can be viewed via cell phones in developing countries.