2017 School News

In collaboration with the Drennan group at MIT, graduate student Emily Ulrich and Prof. Wilfred van der Donk report the molecular basis for methane formation in the oceans in Science. MIT News.

Diwakar Shukla is a recipient of a New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award for his project demonstrating the use computational biophysics in the understanding of fundamental questions in plant biology. ChBE News.
Shukla and his interdisciplinary colleagues utilized Blue Waters to model plant enzymes' processes critical for growth and development. ChBE News.

Human clinical trials of the anti-cancer drug PAC-1, developed by Paul Hergenrother for use against varieties of brain cancer are progressing at a steady pace. University of Illinois News.


Huimin Zhao and collaborators are developing new metabolic engineering methods that combine genetic manipulation steps that were time consuming when performed in sequence. IGB News.

Yi Lu has been named one of the 2017 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers. He was also on the list in 2015 and 2016. University of Illinois News.

Paul Lauterbur (Nobel Prize, 2003) was inducted (posthumously) into the Engineering & Science Hall of Fame. ECE News.

Two Dept. of Chemistry faculty members were chosen as 2017 Magnificent Tens by the Analytical Scientist magazine. Shuming Nie is in the "Giants of Nano" section and Jonathan Sweedler is in the "Leaders" section.

In a new study, Charles Sing and colleagues tune electrostatic charges in synthetic polymers to drive self-assembly processes to create potentially useful new synthetic materials. University of Illinois News.

Chemical Engineering alumnus, David V. Boger (PhD '65, Westwater) awarded a 2017 LAS Alumni Achievement Award for his work on fluid movement and ways to prevent tailings dam disasters. LAS News.

Chemistry alumnus, Michael J. Sofia (PhD '84, Katzenellebogen) receives a 2017 LAS Alumni Achievement Award for discovering the cure for Hepatitis C. LAS News.

Huimin Zhao will receive the 2018 Marvin Johnson Award from the Biochemical Technology Division of the American Chemical Society for his outstanding research contributions toward the advancement of microbial and biochemical technology. ChBE article.

The Kenneth Rinehart Endowment has enabled Paul Hergenrother to pursue pioneering research developing antibiotics that affect drug resistant bacteria. This LAS News article also includes a profile of Kenneth and Marilyn Rinehart.

School faculty members, Andrew Ferguson, Martin Gruebele, So Hirata, Nancy Makri, Charles Sing, Charles Schroeder, and Kenneth Schweizer, are members of the Computational Molecular Science (CMS) Group recently established at the Beckman Institute. Beckman Institute News.

Graduate student, Erin Nissen (Dlott) was one of five to be awarded a first-year fellowship by the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration in 2017. Chemistry News.

ChBE alumnus Fikile Brushett (PhD '2010, Kenis) was named one of "C&EN's Talented Twelve". ChBE News.

Wilfred van der Donk's research is highlighted in the first "LAS Experts" feature. Read his interview titled "Unlocking new antibiotics" in this LAS article.

Drs. Charles Sing, Ying Diao, Damien Guironnet, and Simon Rogers were awarded a $1.2 million NSF grant to advance the frontiers of 3-D printing. ChBE News.


The self-assembly of electrically-active biohybrid materials research by Charles Schroeder and collaborators may aid solution-based processing of the next-generation of optoelectronic materials. ChBE News.

ChBE alumni Ashlee Ford Versypt (PhD 2012, Braatz) and Meagan Lewis (BS 2008) are on AIChE's '35 Under 35' list of outstanding engineers. ChBE News.

NSF awards Illinois $3 million for interdisciplinary graduate student training. Hyunjoon Kong is co-lead investigator and Jonathan Sweedler is a co-director on the project. U of I News Bureau.

Three chemistry faculty, Martin Gruebele, Sharon Hammes-Schiffer and Catherine Murphy, have been named Center for Advanced Study Professors. U of I News Bureau.

The research groups of Ying Diao and Diwakar Shukla have developed bio-inspired dynamic templates used to manufacture organic semiconductor materials that produce printable electronics. U of I News Bureau.

Ying Diao has been chosen to take part in the National Academy of Engineering’s 23rd annual U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium. ChBE News.

Kami Hull has won a 2017 Amgen Young Investigator Award. The award recognizes young chemists who are making significant contributions to the field of organic chemistry and pharmaceutical research. Chemistry News.

Sharon Hammes-Schiffer has been selected as the winner of the 2019 G.M. Kosolapoff Award by the Auburn Local Section of the American Chemical Society and Auburn University.

David Flaherty and Daniel Bregante are working on a greener way to produce plastic and resin precursors that are derived from fossil fuels. U of I News Bureau.

Wilfred van der Donk will receive the Vincent du Vigneaud Award from the American Peptide Society. du Vigneaud studied chemistry at the University of Illinois and later became a faculty member. He was awarded the 1955 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on peptide hormones.

Postdoctoral researcher Fengjiao Zhang and Professor Ying Diao developed devices for sensing disease markers in breath. U of I News Bureau.

The Martin Burke group and collaborators have developed molecular prosthetics, small molecules that can treat protein deficiencies. These have the potential to treat incurable diseases such as anemias and cystic fibrosis. LAS News. Cosmos.

Through modifying a drug used against gram-positive bacteria, the Hergenrother group found a much needed broad-spectrum antibiotic. They did so using multi-approach methods of computation, screening and modification of natural product libraries. UIUC News Bureau.

SCS undergraduates Jerome Davis, Dongkwan Lee, and Kang Yong Loh, were awarded Beckman Institute Awards to do summer research. Ashley Lenhart received a Janssen Family Undergraduate Research Award, and Michael Jorgensen was awarded a Neurotechnology for Memory and Cognition Award. LAS News.

Prashant Jain has won a 2017 Campus Distinguished Promotion Award. This award is given each year to a very few of the faculty on campus whose contributions were truly exceptional in terms of quality of work and overall achievement.

Jeffrey Moore, the Murchison-Mallory Professor of Chemistry, a professor of materials science and engineering, and a long-time Beckman faculty member, has been named director of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. LAS News.

Prashant Jain was chosen as the Kavli Foundation Emerging Lecturer for the Fall 2017 ACS meeting. This lecture is a high profile, general audience lecture that highlights one of the top young chemists in the United States.

Alison Fout was one of 13 to receive a 2017 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. The program supports the research and teaching careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences. Her project is "Ligand Influences on Base Metals for Multi-Electron Reactions"

Martin Burke is an inaugural faculty member of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. The faculty will consist of prominent researchers, administrators and medical professionals with a broad range of expertise invaluable to building the world’s first engineering-based college of medicine. LAS News article.

Jeffrey Moore was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest professional honors a scientist can receive. He and his group investigate polymer synthesis to invent mechanically responsive materials. UIUC News Bureau article.

Martin Burke proposes billion-dollar project to synthesize most of the hundreds of thousands of known organic natural products in search of new medicines. The effort would harness an automated synthesis machine that he and colleagues developed to snap together molecules from a set of premade building blocks. Science Magazine article.

David Sarlah was one of four faculty members named a Lincoln Excellence for Assistant Professors Scholar. He is being recognized for his outstanding teaching and research. LAS News article.

Catherine J. Murphy has been named a 2017 Materials Research Society Fellow. Her work in gold and silver nanoparticles has provided a springboard for herself and others for use of the materials in sensors, drug delivery agents, therapeutic agents, optical switching devices, electronic inks, and more. MRL News article.

Scott E. Denmark has been elected a 2017 Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He joins some of the world's most accomplished scholars as a member of the Academy for his invention, stereochemical study and mechanistic understanding of new synthetic reactions. UIUC News Bureau article.

The Zhao group and collaborators in Singapore used CRISPR technology to activate silent gene clusters in Streptomyces bacteria, a potential treasure trove of new classes of drugs. They published their research in in the journal of Nature Chemical Biology. UIUC News Bureau article.

Alumnus, Freddy Nguyen (PhD 2015, Gruebele), received a prestigious Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue his research developing nanosensors for in vivo monitoring of cancer therapeutics at MIT. Chemistry News article.

Alumna, Danielle Mai (PhD 2016, Schroeder), was awarded a prestigious Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellowship for her work developing bioinspired polymers for rapid and selective removal of biological toxins. She is currently at MIT. ChBE News article.

Chemistry graduate students, Sudharsan Dwaraknath, Lucas Hernandez, Erin Nissen, and Yusef Shari'ati have received 2017 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships. Seven other Chemistry students received honorable mentions. Chemistry News article.

Martin Gruebele with colleagues Peter Wolynes and Eduardo Berrios have simulated reactions in two dimensions that, if extrapolated to three, could lead to a viable path to controlled nuclear fusion. Rice University News article.

ChBE graduate students, Jason Adams, Raul Sun Han Chang, Jason Madinya, and Aleczandria Tiffany have been awarded prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. ChBE News article.

Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow, Semin Lee (Moore), designed a method for synthesizing conjugated nanohoops, which are reminiscent of the shortest segment of a carbon nanotube. Beckman Institute News article.

Chemistry researchers Wilfred van der Donk and Chad Rienstra along with their MCB collaborators are highlighted in Spring LAS News magazine article about basic medical research on campus. LAS News article.

Alumna Allene Rosalind Jeanes (PhD '38, Adams, R.) will be inducted posthumously into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May for, in part, creating a blood plasma extender used by medics in the Korean and Vietnam wars. LAS News article.

The Douglas Mitchell research group reports the development of a tool that searches through microbial genomes, identifying clusters of genes that indicate an organism’s ability to synthesize therapeutically promising molecules. IGB News article.

Yang graduate student, Thao Ngo was selected to participate in the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting this summer. She is a NSF Graduate Research Fellow whose research focuses on studying the growth and dissolution of Pt-based nano catalysts using in situ electron microscopy and x-ray based techniques. ChBE News article.

Martin Gruebele is the recipient of the ACS 2017 Nakanishi Prize. The ACS award is given biennially to recognize and stimulate significant work that extends chemical and spectroscopic methods to the study of important biological phenomena.

Prashant Jain’s research group found that ultrasmall nanoclusters of copper selenide could make superionic solid electrolytes for next-generation lithium-ion batteries. UIUC Bureau News article, Smithsonian Magazine article.

Paul Hergenrother is the recipient of a 2017 Cope Scholar Award. He was cited for innovative use and application of organic synthesis to solve critical problems at the frontiers of chemical biology and translational drug discovery. ACS News listing.

Brendan Harley and Ji Sun Choi are developing biomaterials that show promise in treating hematopoietic cancers and for understanding the process of bone marrow failure and other hematopoietic diseases. They reported their findings in Science Advances. UIUC News Bureau article.

Jefferson Chan, David Sarlah and Josh Vura-Weis have been selected to receive 2017 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowships. UIUC News Bureau article.

Jinqi Li and Martin Burke will receive the ACS Nobel Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry. They were cited for transforming iterative cross-coupling with MIDA boronates into a powerfully simple and increasingly general automated platform for complex natural products synthesis.

Hyunjoon Kong was selected as an American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) Fellow. He was elected for his outstanding contributions to the fields of biomaterials, bioimaging contrast agents and tissue engineering. ChBE News article.

Huimin Zhao and graduate student Behnam Enghiad have fashioned a tool that can create highly active artificial enzymes of great specificity, enabling the production of a desired biological function or reagent. Their research was reported in ACS Synthetic Biology. IGB News article.

David Sarlah is the recipient of a 2017 NSF CAREER Award for his proposal "New Dearomative Methods and Strategies for Organic Synthesis".

BogerSCS Alumni David V. Boger (PhD '65, Westwater) and Jennifer Holmgren (PhD '86, Shapley, J.) were elected members of the National Academy of Engineering. Boger was cited for his discoveries and fundamental research on elastic and particulate fluids and their application to waste minimization in the minerals industry. Holmgren was cited for developing technologies to improve our energy future, from renewable energy and chemicals to combinatorial chemistry and materials discovery. ChBE News article.


Charles Sing photoCharles Sing was awarded a 2017 NSF CAREER Award for his proposal, "Developing the design rules of charge sequence to inform polymer self-assembly". ChBE News article.

Postdoc Lydia Kisley was featured in the Forbes Under 30 List for 2017. She is the first Beckman-Brown Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellow and works with Profs. Leckband, Gruebele, and Braun. ChBE News article.

Jeff Moore, Nancy Sottos and Scott White, pioneers in the field of self-healing polymers, have published an extensive review of state-of-the-art autonomous polymers and lay out future directions for the field in Nature. Beckman Institute article.