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 university 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

2017 University Scholars

Amy W. Ando
Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Ando is a globally prominent scholar of environmental and natural resource economics with particular expertise in economics of species and habitat conservation.  Her work helps conservation efforts to maximize benefits people glean from investments to protect nature.

Martin D. Burke
Department of Chemistry, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Burke’s pursuit of molecular prosthetics led to the study of naturally occurring small molecules that evolved over a billion years to perform protein-like functions.  His research and developments are benefitting patients with various incurable diseases caused by missing proteins.

Danilo Erricolo
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Chicago
Dr. Erricolo's research interests are in the general area of electromagnetics, focusing on computational electromagnetics, wireless communications and radio wave propagation, waveform design in radar applications, ground penetrating radar, and antenna design.  He is Director of Andrew Electromagnetics Laboratory.

Cara A. Finnegan
Department of Communication, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Finnegan studies photography as rhetoric, examining how it is implicated in citizens understanding of, and responses to, public issues.  Her treating photography as a subject for rigorous critical and historical analysis was instrumental in the growth of visual rhetoric as an area of study.

Nancy E. Freitag
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Chicago
Professor Freitag’s researches how human pathogenic bacteria infects and establishes itself in animals and humans, and conversely, how the host can fight off such infections.  Her lab has determined the means by which Lysteria bacteria takes over a cell and how it avoids detection by the immune system.

Stacey S. Horn
Department of Educational Psychology, Chicago
Professor Horn’s research advances knowledge of how socio-cognitive development, social norms, and social institutions influence ways adolescents reason about peer relationships and harassment.  Her work focuses on biased-based forms of harassment and on harassment related to identities based on race, ethnicity, social class and sexual orientation.

Andrew Leakey
Department of Plant Biology, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Leakey is an internationally recognized leader in genomic ecology and global change biology.  His current work is pioneering new high-throughput field-based approaches for selecting plant genotypes adapted to future growing conditions.

Hedda Meadan-Kaplansky
Department of Special Education, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Meadan-Kaplansky’s scholarship focuses on the role social and physical environments play in promoting social communication of children with disabilities, particularly those with Autism.  Her work emphasizes family-specific interventions that can be implemented in the home.

Zizi A. Papacharissi
Department of Communication, Chicago
Professor Papacharissi’s research focuses on the social and political consequences of online media.  She frequently lectures at universities and research institutes in other countries and her work has been translated into Greek, German, Korean, Chinese, Hungarian, Italian, Turkish, and Persian.

James L. Patton
Department of Bioengineering, Chicago
Professor Patton’s research involves robotic teaching, balance and gait, arm control, haptics, modeling, human-machine interfaces, and neuro-rehabilitation following brain injury.  He specializes in using robotic manipulators to answer rehabilitation questions.  He is the Director of the NIDILRR National Center for Rehabilitation Robotics.

Saurabh Sinha
Department of Computer Science, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Sinha’s research seeks to understand influences on genes, and their evolution.  He focuses on identifying regulatory influences on genes and on making evolutionary comparisons of regulatory sequences across multiple species. 

Angela L. Tyner
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Chicago
Professor Tyner is renowned for her expertise in epithelial biology and tyrosine signaling.  She identified Protein Tyrosine Kinase 6 (PTK6), which is activated in breast and prostate cancers.  She is a permanent member of two standing National Institutes of Health study sections.

Venkat Venkatakrishnan
Department of Computer Science, Chicago
Professor Venkatakrishnan’s main research area is cybersecurity, focusing on systems security, specifically on security of software applications, web applications, and mobile applications.  His approach is to look for security problems in the real world and design solutions that address them.

Benjamin M. Walsh
Department of Management, Springfield
Professor Walsh’s research centers largely on the interpersonal work environment, with a particular focus on civility and mistreatment in the workplace.  He also conducts research on psychological and organizational climate, training effectiveness, and the hiring process.

updated August 2017