November 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 98: Nov. 30, 2018

Note from the Director

As we prepare for many physical changes at the Beckman Institute, we also are discussing something a bit less tangible: the culture at Beckman.

Beckman's future success depends on energizing its community members by strengthening and expanding our interdisciplinary research role on campus. Beckman is successful because of the people who are passionate about what happens here. Every Beckman faculty member who has space here should be an example of a “power collaborator.”

But numbers alone (collaborative publications, grant support) do not tell the whole story or define a power collaborator. Certainly, the expectations will depend on career stage—from an enthusiastic assistant professor who shares a new expertise and ideas with an established collaborative team to a senior faculty member who organizes and guides interdisciplinary teams and mentors younger faculty.

This spring, I will meet with each full- and part-time Beckman faculty member. My challenge to each PI is simple: convince me you are a Beckman power collaborator. I look forward to discussing the future of Beckman with each of you.

With this in mind, we have tweaked our mission statement and core values to sharpen our focus and goals and provide a decision-making foundation. While seemingly simple and straightforward, these are a set of guiding principles to follow every day and promote purposeful choices. The core values define our dedication to something greater than our own success or discoveries, and they will determine how the institute will operate, assign space, and allocate its resources.

For example, should we find space for faculty who are new to Beckman and desire to engage in collaborative projects or should we invest in longstanding Beckman faculty members whose record of collaboration is underwhelming? How much of the institute's space should be dedicated to non-collaborative (single PI) activities? What equipment investments should we make in shared facilities? Should we wind down an existing, underutilized facility in order to create another? These kinds of decisions are regularly being made.

Please join me at the Beckman Insitute Town Hall meeting at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, in the auditorium to help chart Beckman's course for future prosperity. Play an active role in rejuvenating our collaborative culture. Be a power collaborator, and help ensure Beckman's bright future.

Jeff Moore
Director of the Beckman Institute


Five Beckman Faculty Among Researchers Ranked Among Word's Most Influential
Five of nine faculty members at the U of I that have been named to the 2018 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list have Beckman appointments: Thomas Huang, a research professor of electrical and computer engineering (engineering); Prashant Jain, an associate professor of chemistry (cross-field); Catherine Murphy, a professor of chemistry (cross-field); Yi Lu, a professor of chemistry (chemistry); and Shuming Nie, a professor of bioengineering (plant and animal science). The list recognizes “leading researchers in the sciences and social sciences from around the world,” according to Clarivate Analytics.

Aluru Among Four Illinois Faculty Members Elected AAAS Fellows
Narayana Aluru, a professor of mechanical science and engineering and a member of the Computational Molecular Science Group, was among four Illinois faculty members to be elected 2018 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This lifetime honor will be presented at the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Singer Among Three Named Presidential Fellows
Andrew Singer, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and member of Beckman’s Computational Imaging Group, is one of three Presidential Fellows named by U of I President Tim Killeen. The fellows will help in the development of the Discovery Partners Institute, which is the cornerstone of a statewide network led by the U of I System to accelerate the breakthrough research discovery and entrepreneurship that drives innovation, job creation, and economic growth.

Ostoja-Starzewski Awarded Worcester Reed Warner Medal for Contribution to Engineering Literature
Martin Ostoja-Starzewski, a professor of mechanical science and engineering and a member of Beckman’s Computational Imaging Group, was awarded the 2018 Worcester Reed Warner Medal from ASME. The medal is awarded annually to an individual for outstanding contributions to the permanent literature of engineering. Ostoja-Starzewski received the award for his book, “Microstructural Randomness and Scaling in Mechanics of Materials.”

Building News

Beckman to Get Energy Upgrades Through ESCO Project

The Beckman Institute is part of the next energy service company (ESCO) project at the U of I. Schneider Electric presented details about the project, which will upgrade Beckman laboratory facilities. For FAQs about ESCOs and the project at Beckman, go to Beckman’s new ESCO updates website, If you missed the meeting earlier this month, Beckman community members may access a PDF of the PowerPoint presentation and a video of the presentation through the site. Once the project is underway, you can go to this website to access Schneider’s updates on the project.

Clery Act Mandates Reporting of Student Travel
Through the Clery Act, there is a federal mandate to report overnight student travel that is sponsored or sanctioned by the university. The mandate relates to the university’s responsibility in obtaining crime statistics for locations where students stay overnight (for both domestic and international travel). Travel that must be reported can be submitted online via the University Police Department website. A representative from the Division of Public Safety will host an informational session at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, in Beckman Room 5602 to clarify the reporting requirements for student travel. More information is on the Clery Liaisons website.

Update/Verify Your Phone Number Now
The Beckman Institute directory automatically displays your Lync phone number. To verify the correct number is in your profile or have a different number displayed, update your details at “My Profile” on the University HR website, You also may update your emergency contacts. Please contact the Beckman Help Desk at or 217-244-2904 with any questions.

Register Your Lab/Group for Open House
The 2019 Beckman Institute registration form for labs and groups who will host exhibits at next year’s open house is now live. Register now at Open House will be 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, March 8, and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, March 9.

Please assign one person to be the contact for your open house exhibit and have them register your group. Remember, we encourage exhibits to be interactive with activities that appeal to various age groups and your booth must be staffed with volunteers. Also, remember to select three “tags” that best describe your exhibit to make it searchable in Engineering Open House’s new app. Visitors will be able to select which tags appeal to them most and then the app will suggest exhibits (and locations) for them to visit.

Café Holiday Hours
The Beckman Café will close at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6, to prepare for the institute’s holiday party, which is scheduled for 2:30-4:30 p.m. that day. The café will be closed for winter break beginning at 3:15 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, and will reopen at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2.

New Hires

Welcome to the Beckman Institute to the following new employees:

  • Yi Wang, 0% Visiting Scholar (G. Popescu)
  • Lei Liu, 0%  Visiting Scholar (G. Popescu)
  • Zilong Huang, 0% Visiting Scholar (T. Huang)
  • Ryan Hubbard, Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Pedro Pacutti, 0% Visiting Scholar (E. Tajkhorshid)
  • Rami Ammourah, 71.36% Visiting Scholar (N. Sobh)
  • Anita Boone, Grants and Contracts Coordinator (Business Office)
  • Hongwei Niu, 0% Visiting Scholar (N. Aluru)
  • Hannah Jones, Visiting Research Specialist (M. Fabiani)

Recently Awarded Grants

  • “Multiphoton Image Analysis and Visualization for Use in Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Strategies” (PI: S. Boppart, Mayo Clinic)
  • “Supplement: Machine Learning in Primary Care Imaging of the Ear” (PI: S. Boppart, NIH)

Featured Student Researcher

Meet our latest Student Researcher of the Week: Noah Trebesch. He is a graduate student and member of the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group. Is there a student researcher you’d like featured? Email


Wednesdays at Noon, Beckman 5269 (tower room)
Remaining fall dates: Dec. 5 & 12. Yoga will continue next semester at the same time and place, Jan. 16-May 15 (with no class March 20 due to spring break).

Information Session on Reporting Student Travel
10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, Beckman Room 5602
The Division of Public Safety will review reporting requirements for overnight student travel.

Graduate Student Seminar
Noon Wednesday, Dec. 5, Room 1005. Lunch will be served.
Three current Beckman graduate students will give short talks about their research.

  • Evan Center, Beckman Institute Graduate Fellow in the Mechanisms of Cognitive Control Group
  • Huiying Liu, graduate research assistant in the Autonomous Materials Systems Group
  • Zhenglin Yang, works with members of the Integrated Imaging theme

Fall 2018 Frontiers in Miniature Brain Machinery (MBM) Lectures
4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2269 Beckman Institute.
Diane Beck, professor of psychology and in the Neuroscience Program
“The Importance of Prior Knowledge for Vision”

Director’s Seminar
Noon Thursday, Dec. 6, in Room 1005 Beckman. Lunch will be served.
Junlong Geng, Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow
“Imaging and Mapping Crown-Like Structures in Intact Adipose Tissues”

Beckman Institute Town Hall
1:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, Beckman auditorium
Hosted by Jeff Moore, the director of the Beckman Institute, the meeting will include updates on current initiatives and activities at the institute.

Beckman Institute Holiday Party
2:30-4:30 Thursday, Dec. 6 in the Beckman atrium
Join us for some holiday cheer (and lots of good food) at our annual holiday gathering. This year we are collecting books and toys for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots as well as food donations for the Feeding Our Kids organization. Donations will be accepted through Dec. 14. Collection boxes are in the east atrium.

Curious and Eclectic Seminar Series
Noon on selected Fridays, Room 1005 Beckman. Lunch will be served.
Dec. 7: Judith Pintar, research professor of sociology, “The Appeal of an Endless Horizon: Collaborative Game Design as Meta-hodological Play”