Welcome to the

Beckman Institute

The Beckman Institute at Illinois is a world-class interdisciplinary facility devoted to ground-breaking research in the physical sciences, computation, engineering, biology, behavior, cognition, and neuroscience.

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About the Beckman Institute

The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology opened in 1989 as one of the first facilities in the world dedicated to interdisciplinary research. The Institute's mission is to foster an interdisciplinary approach to doing leading-edge research in the physical and life sciences, and engineering. The Institute was founded on the premise that reducing the barriers between traditional scientific and technological disciplines can yield the greatest advances. Research is focused broadly around four themes: Biological Intelligence, Human-Computer Intelligent Interaction, Integrative Imaging, and Molecular and Electronic Nanostructures. The 313,000-square foot building was made possible by a gift from Arnold and Mabel Beckman. More than 1,500 faculty, students, and postdoctoral and other associates are actively engaged in research at the Institute.

Research at Beckman

Research at the Beckman Institute is categorized into four broad themes to provide faculty with a loose organizational framework. Beckman's interdisciplinary approach allows areas of study to overlap within the themes. The research themes are:
Biological Intelligence, Human-Computer Intelligent Interaction,
Integrative Imaging, Molecular and Electronic Nanostructures
Scientists work across the themes to both advance our knowledge of science and for real-world applications. Many at Beckman focus on cognitive and brain health, as well as linguistics and language learning studies, which have a beneficial impact on people. Bioimaging work seeks to advance imaging technology and biomedical applications, including in another area of focus, cancer research. Others use bioengineering principles to create new technologies, while Beckman has been home to breakthrough innovations in the fields of electronics and advanced computational methods since it opened.

Research Support Facilities

The Beckman Institute provides researchers state-of-the-art facilities for imaging, microscopy, and scientific visualization that are unparalleled for a campus institute. The Biomedical Imaging Center, Illinois Simulator Laboratory, and the Imaging Technology Group are premier resources for researchers in any field. The Imaging Technology Group was created in 1992 and today is made up of two resources: the Microscopy Suite (for microscopic imaging of specimens) and the Visualization Laboratory (for scientific image and graphics creation and analysis). The Illinois Simulator Laboratory was created in 1995 for experiments in cognition using highly-advanced virtual reality environments. The Biomedical Imaging Center, which became a Beckman resource in 2002, is a unique campus support facility with a variety of magnetic resonance imaging machines, as well ultrasound, optical, and molecular imaging modalities.

World-Class Faculty

Beckman Institute researchers are known throughout the world for pioneering work in areas ranging from electronics and imaging science, to neuroscience and signal processing. There are more than 200 faculty members from nine colleges and 46 departments at the University of Illinois doing research at the Beckman Institute. Beckman Institute faculty members hold chaired professorships in departments throughout the Illinois campus, have been named as fellows of the most prestigious science and engineering academies, won the most coveted awards in science and technology, and led research projects that have had a worldwide impact on science, technology, and human health. They have also been rated as excellent teachers by their students, founded start-up companies, and dedicated their work to advances that improve the world in which we live.

Beckman Fellows and Student Researchers

Beckman Fellows and graduate and undergraduate students contribute greatly to the work that goes on at the Beckman Institute. There are more than 1,000 students (nearly 600 graduate students and more than 440 undergraduates) at Beckman who make a tremendous impact on scientific discoveries and papers. Alumni from Beckman Institute research groups and Fellows programs have gone on to make contributions in academia, business, and government. While there are no classes held at the Institute, learning goes on in laboratories, research groups, and cubicles every day. The Institute's researchers rely on the critical contributions of these students and Beckman Fellows to do the laboratory work, experiments, and reporting of results that make research possible. In addition, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation funds the Postdoctoral and Graduate Student Fellows programs at the Institute.

University of Illinois

Founded in 1867 as one of the original 37 land-grant institutions of higher learning, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is annually ranked as one of the top public research universities in the country. More than 40,000 students are served by 17 colleges and instructional units at Illinois. There are 15 colleges and schools and seven institutes and centers engaged in research at the University of Illinois. When the Beckman Institute opened in 1989, it brought national attention to Illinois for its innovative, interdisciplinary approach to research. It remains today as what one campus leader called the crown jewel of research at the University. Top-ranked programs at Illinois such as in engineering and psychology contribute many faculty members to Beckman, helping to make it an integral part of research efforts at the University.

Beckman News

Mar 11Synergy Spring 2015

Synergy Spring 2015

The Spring 2015 Synergy showcases the wide variety of disciplines that work together at the Institute to produce research. This issue features Deana McDonagh, professor of industrial design and member of Beckman’s Human Perception and Performance Group, who works on empathic design; Anna Kim, a graduate student in integrative biology, whose research into host-pathogen interactions utilizes Beckman’s Microscopy Suite; and an app created by the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group that brings molecules to life. 

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New Super-Fast MRI Technique: Singing 'If I Only Had a Brain'

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Researchers use a new technique that is 10-times faster than standard MRI scanners to illustrate how the hundreds of muscles in our neck, jaw, tongue, and lips work together to produce sound. Professor Aaron Johnson and his collaborators at the Beckman Institute have developed a technique that captures these MRI images at a far faster rate than any other MRI technique in the world. This dynamic imaging is especially useful in studying how rapidly the tongue is moving, along with other muscles in the head and neck during speech and singing. “Typically, MRI imaging is able to acquire maybe 10 frames per second or so. But we are able to scan 100 frames per second, without sacrificing the quality of the images,” said Brad Sutton, technical director of Beckman's Biomedical Imaging Center and associate professor in Bioengineering. Aaron Johnson is an affiliate faculty member in the Bioimaging Science and Technology Group at the Beckman Institute and assistant professor in Speech and Hearing Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. To read more, please visit... www.beckman.illinois.edu/news

Twin Sister Scientists: Advice for Girls & Women in Science & Engineering

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Twin sisters Patty Jones and Cathy Murphy recall their early experiences making it in the worlds of chemistry and engineering and offer advice to young girls interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Cathy Murphy is a professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois and a member of the Beckman Institute's Nanoelectronics and Nanomaterials group. Patty Jones is a former associate professor of Industrial Engineering at Illinois and the former Deputy Director of Exploration Technology at NASA. She is currently the Associate Director for Research at the Beckman Institute.

Visit the 2015 Beckman Institute Open House

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Visit the 2015 Beckman Institute Open House on March 13-14! Follow us on Twitter: #BIOH15 WHEN: Friday, March 13, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, March 14, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The Beckman Institute Open House is a biennial event, held in conjunction with the University of Illinois College of Engineering Open House. Our open house exhibits highlight the work taking place at one of the nation’s leading centers for interdisciplinary research. Schools, clubs, and other large groups are welcome. WHERE: Beckman Institute, 405 North Mathews Avenue, Urbana, Illinois. The Beckman Institute is located on the University of Illinois campus at the intersection of Mathews and University Avenue. Metered parking is available in the parking deck across from the Institute on Mathews and Goodwin. www.beckman.illinois.edu

Beckman Institute 25th Anniversary Opening Remarks

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Former directors and University of Illinois officials give their personal recollections of the Beckman Institute's founding and twenty-five years of interdisciplinary research. Speakers include: Beckman Institute Director Art Kramer Chancellor Phyllis Wise Provost Ilesanmi Adesida Vice Chancellor for Research Peter Schiffer President Emeritus Stan Ikenberry Chancellor Emeritus Mort Weir Founding Director Theodore Brown Former Director Jiri Jonas Former Director Pierre Wiltzius Former Interim Director Tamer Basar These opening remarks were presented at the 25th Anniversary Symposium at the Beckman Institute on October 10, 2014.

Beckman Institute 25th Anniversary Slide Show

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Over the past 25 years, researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois have made advances in neuroscience, materials science, physics, bioengineering, robotics, cognitive science, and many other areas of science and engineering. This slide show presents a few of the historic milestones of the Beckman Institute and some of its recent innovators; which are all highlighted in the new book, "The Beckman Institute at Illinois: A Quarter Century of Building Bridges."


Weekly Outlook

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  2. 20Apr
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  8. 26Apr
  9. 27Apr
  10. 28Apr
  11. 29Apr
  12. 30Apr
  13. 01May
  14. 02May
  1. Neuroengineering IGERT Multi-Modal Imaging Symposium
  2. Neuroscience Seminar
  3. BRL Seminar and Journal Club
  4. Digital Signal Processing Seminar
  5. National Instruments Tech Talks
  6. Digital Signal Processing Seminar
  7. The Survivor Games: Surviving Chemotherapy through Video Games
  8. UIUC-MGH Molecular Imaging Seminar Series
  9. Beckman Imaging Weekly Journal Club
  10. Neuroscience Seminar
  11. BRL Seminar and Journal Club
  12. Digital Signal Processing Seminar
  13. Beckman Institute Director's Seminar - "Quantifying Second Language Proficiency", "The Monitoring and Strategic Control of Memory Representations in Younger and Older Adults".
  14. Language Processing Brown Bag
  15. UIUC-MGH Molecular Imaging Seminar Series
  16. SDEP Seminar
  17. Geography & Geographic Information Science Colloquium Series
  18. Neuroscience Seminar
  19. BRL Seminar and Journal Club
  20. Beckman Institute Graduate Student Seminar
  21. UIUC-MGH Molecular Imaging Seminar Series
  22. Beckman Imaging Weekly Journal Club
  23. BRL Seminar and Journal Club
  24. Digital Signal Processing Seminar
  25. BRL Seminar and Journal Club
  26. Fast Optical Imaging Summer Workshop