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 University Scholars Program recognizes outstanding members of the faculty and provides each with a funding allocation to enhance their scholarly activities.

University Scholars 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

2019 University Scholars

Brian Allan
Department of Entomology, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Allan has catapulted the vector biology program into prominence across the United States.  His research focuses upon the consequences of human-mediated global change on the risk of exposure to parasites and pathogens carried by wildlife.  He is particularly interested in understanding the effects of landscape change on the emergence and transmission of tick-borne diseases.

Antonios Augoustakis
Department of the Classics, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Augoustakis's scholarship is wide-ranging, from philology and women and gender studies to comparative literature, history, linguistics, literary theory, and cultural studies.  He is a leading Latinist active in the Classics profession.  His work covers a wide time span of nearly 1,000 years across different cultures and languages.

Tanya Berger-Wolf
Department of Computer Science, Chicago
Professor Berger-Wolf is one of the first and most well-known scholars in the young but growing field of computational ecology.  The majority of her data science work at UIC has been at the unique intersection of computer science, wildlife biology, and social sciences, creating computational methods for understanding social behavior of animals, including humans.

Jamie Chriqui
Division of Health Policy & Administration, Chicago
Professor Chriqui's work since joining UIC has focused on reducing the obesity epidemic, addressing one of our most pressing health and social problems - childhood obesity.  Her research has had a major impact on the public health policy research field.  She currently leads the largest nationwide evaluation of congressionally-mandated school district wellness policies and associated state laws.

Izzet Coskun
Department of Mathematics, Statistics & Computer Science, Chicago
Professor Coskun is an international leader in algebraic geometry with broad interests, including combinatorics, complex dynamics, several complex variables, and number theory.  His research focuses on topological and numerical invariants of moduli spaces of curves and surfaces, rationally connected varieties, the cohomology of homogeneous varieties and Gromov-Witten theory.

Yanjui Guo
Department of Computer Science, Springfield
Professor Guo's research focuses on computer vision, machine learning, deep learning, computer aided detection/diagnosis, and big data analytics.  He has successfully contributed to the development of a new set theory called neutrosophic set in computer vision and image processing and has developed a novel framework that can efficiently process images and videos with indeterminate information.

Karrie G. Karahalios
Department of Computer Science, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Karahalios's ground-breaking work in social computing explores the impact of computer mediation on human interactions and relationships.  She has worked with speech and education professors to create a methodology and tools to help children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Her tools help researchers and clinicians as well as families, caretakers, and teachers of autistic children.

Mary Jo LaDu
Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Chicago
Professor LaDu is a neuroscientist whose research is dedicated to understanding and finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease, which has become the sixth leading cause of death accounting for approximately 4% of all deaths.  She has developed and licensed technologies that are being used to evaluate biomarkers in Alzheimer's Disease that related to disease progression.

Nadya Mason
Department of Physics, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Mason is a talented experimental physicist whose research has focused on electron transport in nanoscale and mesoscopic systems, particularly in carbon nanotubes, graphene, nanostructured superconductors, topological insulators, and magnetic materials.  She is the principal investigator and director of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (Illiniois MRSEC).

Dolly Mehta
Department of Pharmacology, Chicago
Professor Mehta is a noted authority and distinguished scholar with international recognition in the fields of vascular biology and endothelial cell signaling.  Her research has uncovered details of the signaling pathways regulating endothelial permeability and has the potential to impact the treatment of acute lung injury as well as other vascular diseases and inflammation.

Robert Sloan
Department of Computer Science, Chicago
Professor Sloan has achieved considerable success in several different subfields of computer science including artificial intelligence, cryptography, and computer security.  In recent years he has focused on electronic privacy and security, computer science education, and theoretical computer science.  He serves on the Department of Homeland Security Privacy and Integrity Advisory Board.

Bradley Sutton
Department of Bioengineering, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Sutton has established a very strong research program, developing novel algorithms and pulse sequences for quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  He implemented techniques that allow imaging of neurological fibers in the brain to study structural connectivity in detail.  These studies are important in understanding the function and progression of brain disease.

updated August 2019