This year marks the 13th class of the University Scholars program, which presents financial awards to outstanding faculty members at the three UI campuses. This program recognizes excellence while helping to identify and retain the university's most talented teachers, scholars and researchers.
Recipients of this year's awards were announced to coincide with the annual meeting of the UI Foundation Sept. 19.
Of those honored, 10 are from the Urbana-Champaign campus (featured here). Young faculty members each receive $6,000 a year for three years to support their scholarly activities. Senior scholars each receive $12,000 a year for three years.
Selected scholars have used their awards to purchase books, journals and equipment essential to their work. Others have developed conferences and seminars to share their knowledge and to provide forums for distinguished guest speakers. Some award recipients have pursued travel to collaborate with other noted scholars. Still other University Scholars have hired graduate assistants to accelerate research efforts.
During its 13-year history, the University Scholars program has honored 312 UI faculty members. Funding for the program comes from private gifts to the foundation's Advancement Fund.
Ilesanmi Adesida, professor of electrical and computer engineering
Adesida has received worldwide recognition for his extensive research and innovative techniques developed in the applications of advanced semiconductor processing and the manufacturing of microelectronic devices and circuits. Prominent research laboratories and semiconductor industries have adopted materials-processing methods developed by Adesida and his students. Adesida also has developed and directed several undergraduate courses and programs, including the Research Experience for Undergraduates Program. His work with minority students and schools led to the introduction of the Academic Exchange Program with Minority Schools in which students and faculty members from other universities participate in research at the Urbana-Champaign campus.
Paul S. Cooke, associate professor of veterinary biosciences
Cooke's work in developmental endocrinology is central to the understanding and ability to develop new treatment for male infertility in both humans and domestic animals. His extensive work has attracted competitive grants from several agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last year Cooke was awarded the "Young Andrologist Award" by the American Society of Andrology, which annually honors the outstanding young scientist in male reproductive biology. His seminars and presentations in countries such as Australia, Poland and Japan have gained Cooke an international reputation.
Martha U. Gillette, professor of cell and structural biology, College of Medicine, and Beckman Institute
Gillette is known among colleagues as a pioneer in the study of cellular mechanisms of circadian rhythms. Her research has uncovered important evidence to prove the existence of a biological clock in the brain. More than a decade ago she developed a brain-slice technique that preserves an area of the brain for study longer than previous techniques allowed. Gillette was able to demonstrate up to three 24-hour cycles of brain activity and to probe underlying mechanisms. Gillette's research has provided a framework for therapies that ameliorate the effects of jet lag, shift work, sleep disorders and depression.
Steve Granick, professor of materials science and engineering
Granick's work as an engineering scientist has gained considerable attention in three distinct fields of study: molecular tribology, polymer surface physics and colloid science. His work has appeared in leading journals such as Science and has major impact on fields such as interfacial engineering, complex fluids and biomaterials studies. The broad-reaching nature of his experiments was cited when he was named a fellow of the American Physical Society in 1992. This year he was also involved in organizing three major conferences, including a NATO conference held in Spain.
Joseph W. Lyding, professor of electrical and computer engineering
A collaborative discovery with fellow professor Karl Hess has projected Lyding to the international forefront of semiconductor research and industry. He discovered that the addition of the chemical element deuterium dramatically increases the lifetime of integrated circuit transistors. Several companies have begun test runs of the process in their facilities. Lyding earlier made another major contribution to electronics with Illinois' first atomic resolution scanning tunneling microscope (STM). Two companies signed licensing agreements to market a subsequent version of this instrument that he patented. The significance of his accomplishments have been noted by industry leaders such as IBM and Xerox as having "huge implications worldwide."
Cameron R. McCarthy, research associate professor in the Institute of Communications Research
McCarthy's research investigates alternative approaches to racial inequalities and multiculturalism. He argues that many factors, including the use of language in schools, social influences, historical differences and pop culture play conflicting roles in the development of minority and majority youth identity. Because these forces play such different roles for minority and majority youth, he argues against forming a single curriculum reform format in trying to solve racial discontinuities in the education system. McCarthy has written four books and his fifth, "The Uses of Culture," will be published this fall. His sixth book is scheduled for publication next year.
Peter A.B. Orlean, associate professor of biochemistry
The fields of molecular and cell biology are continually changing. To meet the challenge of including the most recent advances in his Biochemistry 353 course for both undergraduate and graduate students, Orlean augmented the textbooks with primary source material, providing students a fuller grasp of up-to-date literature. As a research adviser, his educational philosophy is to encourage students to develop projects in which they feel they are making significant contributions to science. Orlean's accomplishments in biochemistry have led to eight original articles in prestigious journals, invitations to speak at four Gordon Conferences, and most notably, to present a lecture at the American Cancer Society Research Professors meeting in 1994.
Joseph H. Pleck, professor of human and community development
Pleck's research on the rising rate of "risk behaviors" among young people and the changes in work and family systems aims to contribute to interventions and social policies that will improve individual and family well-being. Common sense and broad assumptions have been used to develop prevention programs. But through national surveys and follow ups, Pleck created a database that gives greater insight into prevention development. He testified before Congress about the impact on traditional family and gender roles by the Parental and Medical Leave Act of 1986 and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1987. He has received two decades of funding from the National Institutes of Health, and between 1992 and 1997, external grants in excess of $3.7 million.
Buzz Spector, professor of art and design
The unique dual roles of artist and art critic have brought Spector international recognition. As an artist, he has successfully competed for grants from agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts (three awards), the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council. He has exhibited a variety of art forms, but is best known for his "installation art." Installations are art in which a gallery or other public space is transformed into an art experience through the use of materials, lighting and other sensory effects. Spector's role as an art critic focuses on issues of contemporary art and culture. His writings have won the respect of fellow critics.
Jonathan V. Sweedler, associate professor of chemistry
Sweedler's research has improved our understanding of the chemical nature
of learning and memory. Analytical methods developed by Sweedler demonstrate
the role chemical processes play in the formation of thought. He holds five
patents and serves on three editorial boards. The advances he has contributed
to neurochemistry have earned him a National Science Foundation Young Investigator
Award, a Packard Fellowship, Dreyfus New Faculty and Teacher Scholar Awards
and a Searle Scholar's Award. His achievements have contributed to advancements
in high technology that economically benefit the university and Illinois.