May 2018 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.

Issue 94: May 2018

Awards and Honors
Jeff Moore, professor of chemistry and director of the Beckman Institute, is the recipient of the 2018 Stephanie L. Kwolek Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry. It was awarded for the conception, testing, and validation of the mechanophore hypothesis, and for research leading to self-healing polymers.

Brad Sutton, a professor of bioengineering, the technical director of the Biomedical Imaging Center at the Beckman Institute, and a faculty member of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, was awarded the 2018 Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology Vision and Spirit Award. He has also been elected a 2018 Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He was elected for outstanding contributions to image reconstruction technology for magnetic resonance imaging, enabling new applications of neuroimaging and dynamic imaging.

Rashid Bashir, the executive associate dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, a professor of bioengineering, and a member of Beckman's 3D Micro- and Nanosystems Group, has been selected as a Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) fellow, in recognition of his research contributions in the broad field of biomedical microelectromechanical systems (BioMEMS) and biomedical nanotechnology. RSC fellowships are the highest level of membership in the organization.

Illinois faculty members have received grants from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Donor Advised Fund, an advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Beckman faculty members Lav R. Varshney, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Olgica Milenkovic, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and Donald Biggar Willet Scholar, submitted proposals that were among 85 projects selected to support the Human Cell Atlas, a global effort to map every type of cell in the healthy human body as a resource for studies of health and disease. The grants total $15 million over one year.

Fatima Husain, an associate professor of speech and hearing science, has been awarded a Lemann Institute-FAPESP Collaborative Research Grant to aid in research of tinnitus using brain imaging. The grant will support Husain and two students as they travel to Brazil to collaborate with researchers at the University of Sao Paulo, and in hosting seminars in Champaign-Urbana. Husain is a member of the Mechanisms of Cognitive Control Group.

Three Beckman faculty members were honored with campus awards for excellence in teaching or guiding research. Timothy Bretl, an associate professor of aerospace engineering and member of the Mechanisms of Cognitive Control Group, received the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Gregory Girolami, a professor of chemistry and member of the Nanoelectronics and Nanomaterials Group, received the Campus Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Teaching. Scott R. White, a professor of aerospace engineering and member of the Autonomous Materials Systems Group, received the Campus Award for Excellence in Guiding Undergraduate Research.

Wenjuan Zhu, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and a member of Beckman's Nanoelectronics and Nanomaterials Group, was recently selected for an IBM Faculty Award for her project "Nanoscale Ferroelectric Devices for Cognitive Computing."

Ken Suslick, professor of chemistry and member of Beckman's Bioimaging Science and Technology Group, has been awarded the American Institute of Chemists Chemical Pioneer Award. This award recognizes chemists and chemical engineers who have made outstanding contributions advancing the science of chemistry or impacting the chemical industry or the chemical profession.

Beckman Graduate Fellows Named
Seven graduate students have been awarded 2018 Beckman Institute Graduate Fellowships. The program offers University of Illinois graduate students at the M.A., M.S., or Ph.D. level the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary research at the institute. The 2018 honorees: Evan Center, psychology; Maximillian Egan, psychology; Hyukjin Jang, bioengineering; Edward Jira, chemical engineering; Hailey Knox, chemistry; Yayao Ma, biomedical imaging; and Ghazal Naseri Kouzehgarani, neuroscience and statistics. More at

Beckman Student Award Recipients Named
Fifteen students were recently named recipients of the 2018 Beckman Institute student awards.

Jim McGraw has been named the 2018 Office Professional of the Year by the Secretariat. Rohit Bhargava, a professor of bioengineering, nominated McGraw for the annual award, which was celebrated during Administrative Professionals Week.

Dennis Phillips, a laborer electrician in Facilities and Services, who is responsible for lighting in the Beckman Institute, recently received a Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award.

In Case You Missed It: Center for Brain Plasticity Created
The Center for Brain Plasticity, championed and supported by both the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute (IHSI) and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, brings together researchers, university-wide, with the aims of advancing understanding of the brain and the power of the brain to be changed by experience and other external influences. Led by Aron Barbey, an associate professor of psychology, and Neal Cohen, a professor of psychology and head of the IHSI, the center builds upon the incredible wealth of plasticity research and data at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to provide a nexus for long-term interdisciplinary collaborations.

Get Ready for ESCO
The Beckman Institute is part of the next wave of campus energy service company (“ESCO”) projects. The main impact will be in wet labs, where direct digital controls (DDC) and upgraded HVAC will be installed, however rooms adjacent to wet labs may also be impacted. If your lab has a Biosafety Level 2 cabinet or a chemical fume hood, you will be impacted – most likely, your lab will be under construction for a period of 4-6 weeks sometime in 2019. Associate Director for Research Patty Jones is collecting technical and scheduling requirements from affected citizens and will work with the Beckman leadership team on a plan. Please contact Patty at

Coming Soon: New Beckman Financial System and Online Reports
The Beckman Institute IT Services and Business Affairs teams are launching the Beckman Accounting and Reporting System (BARS) that will go live on July 1. It is a web-based system that will allow principal investigators or their proxies to access online financial information and reports, instead of waiting for some weeks to receive printed or emailed documents. For more information or if you would like to participate in a pilot group to test the system contact T’Chana Harden at or Kelli Wendt at

Recently Awarded Grants
“Novel Superconducting MgB2 Nanowire-based Qubits Constructed by Scanning Tunneling Microscope Electron Beam Induced Decomposition of Newly Developed CVD Precursors” (PI: Lyding; U.S. Army)

New Hires
Welcome to new Beckman Institute employees

  • Chengyan Wang, 0% Visiting Scholar (Z. Liang)
  • Tanmoy Chakraborty, Postdoctoral Research Associate (N. Aluru)
  • Stephanie Apperson, Business/Administrative Associate (ITG)
  • Giuseppe Licari, Postdoctoral Research Associate (E. Tajkhorshid)

Events Calendar

Thursday at 12:20 Concert
May 10, 2018
Flute & Harp Duo with Jean Lee and Sydney Campen

Summertime Tower Tutorial Talks (Summertime T3s)
Join us this summer for informal “chalk talks” by Beckman faculty (no powerpoints! We promise!)
11:45 am - 1:15 pm Fridays, Room 5269 (5th floor tower room)

  • 5/18: “Distilling Beauty and Art in Scientific Research,” by Smitha Vishveshwara, an associate professor of physics and member of the Social and Emotional Dimensions of Well-being Group
  • 5/25: “What Does Intersectional Feminist Biology Look Like?” Kate Clancy, an associate professor of anthropology and member of the Social and Emotional Dimensions of Well-being Group
  • 6/1 “The Future Prospects of Science,” Martin Gruebele, a professor of chemistry and member of the Nanoelectronics and Nanomaterials Group
  • 7/6 “The Impact of Automated Frequent Testing on Learning in Undergraduate STEM Courses,” by Matt West, an associate professor, Mechanical Science and Engineering
  • 7/13 “What Does a Brain Do?” by Mark Nelson, a professor of molecular and integrative physiology, and member of the Cellular and Molecular Foundations of Intelligent Behavior Group

Illini 4000 Meet and Greet
3 pm Tuesday, June 5
Room 1005 Beckman Institute

Greet the Illini 4000 cyclists as they make a stop in Urbana at the Beckman Institute. The Illini 4000 is a cross-country bicycle ride to raise money for cancer research and patient support services.
Chancellor Robert Jones is one of the administrators who will pedal along a segment of the June 5 ride to Urbana-Champaign. They'll be raising money for the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. The cyclists are scheduled to arrive at Beckman around 3 pm.

Save the date:
3D Scanning Workshop
10 am to Noon Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Beckman Institute
Register at by July 2, 2018.

Note from the Director
Thank you to everyone who was able to attend the May 3 Town Hall. The video and slides (pdf) are available and can be accessed by clicking the following link and logging in with your net id and password,

I look forward to continuing the discussion about future Beckman directions and developing plans with all of you.

Jeff Moore
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology