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University of Illinois: Champaign-Urbana, Chicago, Springfield

Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs

University Scholars Program

Faculty excellence is the cornerstone of any university of high quality. There is no more important task at the University of Illinois than attracting and retaining the very best teachers and scholars. The Faculty Scholar Program aims to recognize outstanding members of the faculty and to provide each with a funding allocation to enhance their scholarly activities.

Scholar awards are not made for a specific project or proposal; rather, they represent recognition of the recipient’s excellence and the University’s commitment to foster outstanding people and their work. Therefore, the awards are made through nominations, not by application.

As of 2013, each award consists of an allocation of $15,000 per year for a period of three years. Recipients may use the funds at their discretion to enhance their scholarly work through travel, equipment, research assistants, scholarly materials or other uses that support their university-related teaching or research. University Scholars funds cannot be used toward the recipients’ base salary but can be used to support a summer salary of up to two-ninths of base salary.

Eligibility to the University Scholar Program is limited to members of the University of Illinois faculty, as defined in the University Statutes, i.e. members of the academic staff who are tenured or receiving credit toward tenure.

Each campus will determine its selection criteria and process. Prior to the end of the academic year, they will submit the selection results to the President. Formal announcements of new University Scholars will generally be timed to coincide with the beginning of the academic year following selection.

University Scholars from 1985 to current year

2014 University Scholars

Peter Abbamonte
Professor, Department of Physics, College of Engineering, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Abbamonte is an internationally recognized condensed matter experimentalist and the pioneering inventor of electronic structure probing techniques used at every major synchrotron facility in the world. His teaching approach instills in students the ability for quantitative reasoning, from introductory undergraduate courses to the postdoctoral level.

David Bertaina
Associate Professor, Department of History, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Springfield
Professor Bertaina is an accomplished and highly productive scholar with international visibility in the fields of medieval Middle East history and Islamic studies. His groundbreaking work draws attention to the dynamic and fluid nature of interactions between Christians and Muslims in eleventh-century Egypt and explores implications for contemporary Muslim-Christian relations.

Scott Brady
Professor, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, College of Medicine, Chicago
Professor Brady works in the field of cellular and molecular neuroscience. He has done pioneering research on the neuronal cytoskeleton and the molecular motors that ferry membrane-bound organelles from one region of a cell to another. His research has important applications to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson and Alzheimer.

Christopher Fennell
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Fennell specializes in historical archaeology and the archaeology of the African Diaspora. His historical archaeology work in recovering and reconstructing the lives of a society’s structurally disempowered members, such as enslaved Africans and African Americans, is path-breaking and his writing has been recognized with illustrious awards and distinctions.

Brian Fields
Professor, Department of Astronomy, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Fields is a leading theorist working on nuclear and particle astrophysics. He uses the high-energy universe as a laboratory to probe fundamental physics in regimes that are inaccessible to terrestrial experiments. His work has been recognized with an NSF CAREER award and with other competitive grants from NASA and the NSF.

Paul Hergenrother
Professor, Department of Chemistry, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Hergenrother’s discoveries impact basic scientific research as well as the lives of cancer patients. As an expert in the molecular basis of disease, his accomplishments hold great promise in improving survival rates in several deadly cancer types. He is the recipient of multiple highly competitive awards and a prolific author in top journals.

Faranak Miraftab
Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, College of Fine and Applied Arts, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Miraftab is an innovative scholar whose research is changing the field of Urban and Regional Planning.  She examines the intersections of global and local process in shaping communities and the efforts of citizens disadvantaged by race, gender, ethnicity and class to establish basic urban livelihoods.
Her work has been recognized by a Mellon Foundation Fellowship.

Serdar Ogut
Professor, Department of Physics, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Chicago
Professor Ogut’s pioneering research focuses on theoretical investigations of the electronic and structural properties of materials from first principles. His work has important applications in electronic materials and semiconductor nano-crystals. He serves as a National Science Foundation program director and was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Ghanshyam Pandey
Professor of Pharmacology, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Chicago
Professor Pandey is an internationally recognized researcher who has studied the neurobiology of mood disorders and suicide in a career spanning over forty years. He has received continuous funding from the National Institute of Mental Health since 1981 and has published approximately 220 peer-reviewed papers in high-impact journals as well as speaking at international conferences.

Guido Pauli
Professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, College of Pharmacy, Chicago
Professor Pauli does research on the chemopreventative properties of natural products. He has developed qNMR methodologies for evaluating the purity of a wide variety of natural products. He holds three patents and is co-inventor of the Cherry 1 Countercurrent System. He recently established a translational research project with Guanxi Institute of Botany in Guilin, China.

James Pellegrino
Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Chicago
Professor Pellegrino is a world-renown scholar of great distinction in the field of thinking and learning in children and adults. He is a lifelong member of the National Academy of Education. His work focuses increasingly on the role of cognitive theory and technology in education reform and on translating research results into implications for both practitioners and policy makers.

Sandra Rodriguez-Zas
Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Rodriguez-Zas’ research program on statistical genomics and bioinformatics resources focuses on understanding the genetic architecture of health and social behavior in human and livestock organisms. Her work offers novel insights into critical molecular processes. She is the principal investigator of the Bioinformatics core of the Illinois NIH Neuroproteomics Center.

Steven Tozer
Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies, College of Education, Chicago
Professor Tozer is a champion for social justice, working to build both actual and philosophical structures to improve the human condition, especially for those marginalized in society. He was instrumental in the creation of the Ed.D. degree at UIC, a program that has garnered numerous national awards and recognition, and he is a recognized figure in educational leadership.

Philip Yu
Professor, Department of Computer Science, College of Engineering, Chicago
Professor Yu conducts research in the area of data mining – extracting meaningful, usable information from big data. Neuroscientists utilize his work in mining patients' fMRI data for early prediction of neurological diseases. He is a top ranked author worldwide in this area, and has received significant NSF funding as well as gifts from Google, Yahoo, and Huawei to improve their systems.

updated Sept 2014





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