August 2011 Beckman Bulletin

Image of a push pin on left, with the words Beckman Bulletin to the right

The Beckman Bulletin is a monthly digest from the director of the Beckman Institute. The Bulletin is sent to all faculty and staff. Each issue will highlight the latest happenings from around the Institute.

Communication from the Director
Issue 35: August 2011

Diane Beck has been named as leader of the Beckman Institute’s Cognitive Neuroscience (CNS) group. Beck is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois with research interests in the areas of cognitive neuroscience, visual cognition, attention, and visual perception. She replaces Greg Miller as leader of the CNS group, which is part of the Biological Intelligence research theme.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Tracey Wszalek has been named as the new Director of the Beckman Institute’s Biomedical Imaging Center. Wszalek has been serving as BIC Associate Director since the facility became a part of the Beckman Institute in 2002. Wszalek has an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Texas-Austin and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Illinois. She worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Beckman faculty member Neal Cohen and has been associated with MRI research since 1996 when she worked on the Functional Brain Mapping Project (FBMP), a joint neuroscience research effort between Beckman and Carle Foundation Hospital. She served as FBMP Coordinator, and later BIC Assistant Director, before becoming Associate Director. She replaces Greg Miller as BIC Director.

Jonathan Sweedler of the Beckman Institute’s NeuroTech group is one of four professors from the Department of Chemistry who have been elected fellows of the American Chemical Society. Joining Sweedler in the honor are Thom Dunning, Ralph Nuzzo, and Catherine Murphy, a Beckman affiliate faculty member. 

The Beckman Institute’s free educational outreach program, Bugscope, has been awarded a prestigious SPORE Award from Science magazine. The award is based on the essay “Facilitating Scientific Investigations and Training Data Scientists,” which was authored by Michele Korb (California State University – East Bay) and Umesh Thakkar, a senior research scientist who has been with Bugscope since the beginning. The authors discuss how a successful online learning environment, such as Bugscope, can be used to facilitate scientific inquiry and discovery. Bugscope provides free interactive access to a scanning electron microscope (SEM) that students around the world can access to explore the microscopic world of insects.

Rohith Krishna Reddy, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Bioengineering who works with Beckman faculty members Rohit Bhargava and Scott Carney, was chosen by the Coblentz Society to received the Fateley Award. The Award is given to a student who most closely embodies the spirit of the late William Fateley’s desire to promote the science and society of spectroscopy. The award consists of a $1,000 prize to help offset the costs of attending the National Meeting of the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies in Reno in October. The award will be presented at the conference. 

Congratulations to the following investigators who have received grant funding during the period of June 16, 2011 – August 15, 2011:

  • The Hippocampal System and Relational (Declarative) Memory (PI: N. Cohen; Sponsor: NIH)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience of Aging and Culture (PI: B. Sutton; Sponsor: NIH)
  • A Text-to-Scene Conversion and Visualization System for Car Accident Reports (PI: C. Girju; Sponsor: State Farm)
  • Commodity Hardware Acceleration of Popular Modeling Software for Structural Biology, Cell Biology, and Bionanotechnology (PI: K. Schulten; Sponsor: NIH)
  • Influence of Fitness on Brain and Cognition (PI: A. Kramer; Sponsor: NIH)
  • 392 GA-Pacific Consumer Products, LP 2012-00142 (PI: S. Robinson; Sponsor: GA-Pacific)
  • QMHP: Multiscale Analysis of Coupled Electrical Mechanical Systems at Nanoscale (PI: N. Aluru; Sponsor: NSF)
Please welcome the following new hires to the Beckman Institute:
  • Jianjun Cheng, BST faculty (affiliate)
  • Youngmin Song, Postdoctoral Research Associate (J. Rogers)
  • Mike Devocelle, Associate Director for Administration
  • Joe Toscano, Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me. As always, our website will continue to post in a timely manner all the important happenings in the Institute involving our faculty, fellows, and graduate and undergraduate student researchers, their accomplishments, recognitions, and feature stories on our research programs.

Art Kramer
August 26, 2011