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.

Find out more

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

Apr 24Walk Before Your Exams

The Telegraph – Taking a brisk walk or doing exercise for about 20 minutes before taking a test can increase a person’s memory and brain power, according to research by Charles Hillman, a Beckman affiliate. 

Read article →


Alpha Waves and the Future of Brain Monitoring

Screenshot taken of this video

Cognitive neuroscientist Kyle Mathewson explains the role alpha waves play in our brains and discusses how portable EEG brain monitors may become an integral part of our daily lives. Mathewson is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Throwback Thursday: Exercise Improves Mental Fitness As We Age

Screenshot taken of this video

In this interview filmed in 2006, we talk to psychologist Kirk Erickson and hear how physical exercise can not only reshape our bodies, but can also reshape our brains. Erickson attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for his Ph.D. in psychology and worked at the Beckman Institute as a graduate student and postdoc from 2005-2008. He now works as a psychology professor at the University of Pittsburgh and was awarded a Senior Fellowship at the Beckman Institute in 2014.

MRI Scanner Installation Timelapse (2 Days in 2 Minutes!)

Screenshot taken of this video

Watch the 2-day installation of the Biomedical Imaging Center's newest MRI scanner compressed into just 2 minutes! You'll also learn a few fun factoids, such as that the scanner being replaced was actually the first human MRI scanner on the University of Illinois' campus. The Biomedical Imaging Center is a unit of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Center traces its heritage to the Biomedical Magnetic Resonance Laboratory founded at UIUC by Professor Paul Lauterbur, 2003 winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine. To learn more, visit http://bic.beckman.illinois.edu/

Singing Robot

Screenshot taken of this video

Bert, the iCub humanoid robot, sings Jingle Bells. Bert, who joined the Beckman in 2010, belongs to Stephen Levinson's Language Acquistion and Robotics Laboratory. Levinson and his group are training Bert to learn language as a child would, in order to gain insight into human psychology and neurophysiological development. In this video, Levinson lab member Jacob Bryan describes how he got Bert to sing. The iCub has a sense of touch (key for acquiring language, such as when learning to differentiate between a hard object and a soft object), its hands permit dexterous manipulation, and its head and eyes are fully articulated. For more information, please visit the Beckman web site: beckman.illinois.edu

Dancing Proteins: Cell Membrane Transporter Motion May Revolutionize Drug Therapies

Screenshot taken of this video

Professor Emad Tajkhorshid and his collaborators have successfully simulated the molecular dance moves that a multidrug resistance membrane transporter undertakes as it pumps compounds out of a cell. This is the first time researchers have been able to simulate the motion of a complex membrane transporter in its native environment in full atomic detail and gives drug developers vital new targets to help combat drug-resistant cancers and other diseases. Tajkhorshid is a professor of Biochemistry and Pharmacology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a faculty member in the Computational Structural Biology and Molecular Biophysics group at the Beckman Institute.


Weekly Outlook

  1. All
  2. 26Apr
  3. 27Apr
  4. 28Apr
  5. 29Apr
  6. 30Apr
  7. 01May
  8. 02May
  9. 03May
  10. 04May
  11. 05May
  12. 06May
  13. 07May
  14. 08May
  1. Ann Brown Award-"Infants' grasp of others' intentions"
  2. Beckman Imaging Weekly Journal Club
  3. Geography Graduate Student Association Second Annual Invited Lecture
  4. Nanohour Seminar Series
  5. Neuroscience Seminar-TBD
  6. BRL Seminar and Journal Club
  7. Bioacoustics Research Lab Seminar
  8. Graduate Fellows Poster Session
  9. Midwest Speech and Language Day
  10. Nanohour Seminar Series
  11. Beckman Imaging Weekly Journal Club
  12. Fox Investiture
  13. Neuroscience Seminar-TBD
  14. BRL Seminar and Journal Club
  15. Bioacoustics Research Lab Seminar
  16. iOptics Seminar
  17. Digital Signal Processing Seminar
  18. Imaging Seminar- TBA
  19. Undergraduate Neuroscience Research Symposium
  20. Metabolic Enhancement Strategies for Physiological Resilience
  21. Benefit Outreach Session
  22. BRL Seminar and Journal Club
  23. Bioacoustics Research Lab Seminar
  24. Biophotonics Summer School
  25. BRL Seminar and Journal Club
  26. Beckman Imaging Weekly Journal Club
  27. BRL Seminar and Journal Club
  28. Beckman Imaging Weekly Journal Club
  29. BRL Seminar and Journal Club
  30. Beckman Imaging Weekly Journal Club
  31. BRL Seminar and Journal Club
  32. Beckman Imaging Weekly Journal Club
  33. BRL Seminar and Journal Club
  34. Beckman Imaging Weekly Journal Club
  35. BRL Seminar and Journal Club
  1. Chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes and corn
  2. Pork bbq on kaiser roll
  3. Black bean veggie burger on kaiser roll*
  4. New England clam chowder
  5. Vegetable barley soup**
  6. Greek salad*