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

2018 University Scholars

Alison M. Bell
Department of Animal Biology, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Bell is an internationally recognized ecologist working on the neural mechanisms and evolutionary consequences of behavioral variation in animals.  She uses the three spined stickleback fish for her research, combining field observations with laboratory experiments to describe behavioral variation and to uncover its developmental mechanisms.

Luisa Elena Delgado
Department of Spanish & Portuguese, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Delgado is a specialist in Spanish literatures and cultures with emphasis on 19th century modernist literature and the cultural production of Spain in the 20th and 21st centuries.  Her work on contemporary Spanish culture and politics has had a major impact on current public debates on the role of culture in plural, multi-lingual democratic states.

Brian DeMarco
Department of Physics, Urbana-Champaign
Professor DeMarco is an experimental physicist who works on the intersection of atomic and condensed matter physics, using ultracold atom gases trapped in optical lattices to simulate models of strongly correlated electronic solids – quantum simulation.  His 1999 experiment that resulted in a degenerate Fermi gas launched the frontier of atomic physics.

Barbara Di Eugenio
Department of Computer Science, Chicago
Professor Di Eugenio’s main area of research is Natural Language Processing (NPL) and its application to human-computer interaction and multimedia systems.  NPL studies computational models that underlie the processing of human languages; at the same time, developing key technology allowing users to interact with computers using their native language rather than programming language.

Anne George
Department of Oral Biology, Chicago
Professor George’s research focuses on identification and characterization of matrix proteins involved in biomineralization.  Her lab was the first to identify matrix proteins that function in the calcification process of bones and teeth and to utilize functional motifs from these proteins to design de-novo biomaterials for tissue engineering applications to regenerate bone and teeth.

Lynford L. Goddard
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Goddard’s research focuses on fabricating, characterizing, and modeling individual lasers and photodetectors, photonics-based sensors, instrumentation, and integrated circuits.  His work has resulted in benefits in the areas of renewable energy, world food supply, manufacturing, medical implants, and semiconductors.

Alessandro Guidotti
Department of Psychiatry, Chicago
Professor Guidotti is an internationally recognized scholar with a long and outstanding career.  He has a broad background in studies of the epigenetic regulation of gene expression in both human postmortem brain and rodent models of psychiatric disorders, including alcoholism.  Dr. Guidotti is the Scientific Director of the Psychiatric Institute at UIC.

Richard Gilman-Opalsky
Department of Political Science, Springfield
Professor Gilman-Opalsky is a prominent political scientist and an expert in the history of political philosophy, continental and contemporary social theory, Marxism, capitalism, autonomist politics, postmodern philosophy, critical theory, social movements, and the public sphere.  He has authored four books as well as numerous articles on these topics.

Mihai Paun
Department of Mathematics, Statistics & Computer Science, Chicago
Professor Paun is a leader in the field of complex analytic geometry, which is a branch of mathematics dedicated to understanding geometric properties of solutions of equations most often encountered in engineering, physics, and mathematics.  His primary research interests lie in the field of complex algebraic and differential geometry.

Mikhail A. Stephanov
Department of Physics, Chicago
Professor Stephanov’s area of research is theoretical physics, specifically the study of the strong force that binds the nucleus of every atom, which is described by “quantum chromodynamics.”  He has had a demonstrable impact on the field by making a number of decisive contributions to resolving the many mysteries concerning its application.

Kelly Scott Swanson
Department of Animal Sciences, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Swanson studies the effects of nutritional intervention on health outcomes, identifying mechanisms by which nutrients impact gene expression and host physiology, with primary emphasis on gastrointestinal health and obesity.  His nutrition research projects include study of human subjects, companion animals, and rodent models.

Xencheng Yao
Department of Bioengineering, Chicago
Professor Yao is a well-known expert in developing advanced ophthalmic imaging techniques and instruments for advanced imaging of the retina, neural tissues, and endocrine cells.  Two of his major projects are the functional intrinsic optical signal (IOS) imaging of retinal physiology and super-resolution ophthalmoscopy (SRO) of retinal morphology.

updated July 2018