Fundamental Science & Math

Advancing Scientific Knowledge

physics formula on chalkboard

LAS has a distinguished history of groundbreaking research in basic science and mathematics. The work performed by the faculty in our science and mathematics departments has laid the foundation for advances in health, energy, environment, materials, and other applied fields.

One reason for our continued and growing strength in the basic sciences is the College’s strategic investment of royalties from one drug (Prezista®) which has generated over $24 million for LAS ‐ ‐ the most successful royalty producing patent ever developed by a UIC faculty member.  A portion of these funds is being used to create four LAS Endowed Chairs in the Natural Sciences and one professorship, as well as increased support of our most promising scientific research.

  • National Science Foundation Awards

    The Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science (MSCS) is nationally recognized for its excellence in the field of pure mathematics. It holds the most NSF awards of any department at UIC and has 7 active CAREER awards (Dr. Julius Ross, Dr. Laura Schaposnik, Dr. Benjamin Antieau, Dr. Irina Nenciu, Dr. Christof Sparber, Dr. Dima Sinapova, Dr. Yichao Wu, and Dr. Wenliang Zhang), 3 of which were awarded in the past 7 months (Drs. Ross, Schaposnik, and Zhang). In addition, the department is also home to 5 Simons Fellows, a prestigious private foundation fellowship that supports outstanding investigators in mathematics and theoretical physics (Dr. Roman Shvydkoy, Dr. Irina Nenciu, Dr. Daniel Groves, Dr. Alexander Furman, and Dr. Christian Rosendal).

  • Maximizing Investigators’ Research Awards

    The Departments of Chemistry and Physics are also home to 10 previous and current NSF CAREER awardees. Dr. Wonhwa Cho, the Head of the Department of Chemistry, was the first UIC recipient of the prestigious MIRA (Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award) grant from NIGMS, which supports broad investigations into the basic principles of life. In addition to Dr. Cho, Dr. Huan-Xiang Zhou, a Distinguished Chair with dual appointments in Chemistry and Physics, has also been awarded the NIGMS MIRA award.

  • Organic Synthesis Cluster

    Continuing the esteemed tradition of synthesis of biologically active compounds, our Department of Chemistry is home to a highly active organic synthesis cluster. Dr. Vladimir Gevorgyan has developed methods for efficient synthesis of cyclic compounds and their improved catalysis for functionalization, a critical process in development of small molecule inhibitors. Dr. Daesung Lee, also a Professor of Chemistry and a previous Sloan Fellow, is investigating how metal-catalyzed reactions, aryne chemistry, and aminocyanation can be applied to synthesis of structurally novel and biologically active natural products. Dr. Neal Mankad studies multimetallic cooperativity in catalysis and the biological mechanisms that rely on them, which has led to design of new synthetic catalysts with potential applications in agriculture, energy storage, and medicine.

  • Next Generation Battery Hub

    Dr. George Crabtree, a member of the National Academy of Sciences member, is a Professor of Physics and has been instrumental at establishing and leading the JCSER battery hub at Argonne National Laboratory, a $120 million investment from the Department of Energy, with satellite groups at UIC and other collaborating institutions. He is supported in his work by Dr. Robert Klie (Physics) and Dr. Jordi Cabana (Chemistry). Dr. Nicholas Huggett, from the Department of Philosophy, leads a Templeton Foundation funded project aimed at advancing our understanding of the philosophical consequences of quantum gravity.

  • Essential Partnerships

    The Department of Physics is renowned for its work in particle physics and has close ties to National Laboratories, including Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Laboratory, and Brookhaven National Laboratory, as well as the international European Laboratory for Particle Research (CERN). High-energy particle physicists Dr. Rick Cavanaugh, Dr. Cecilia Gerber, Dr. Corrinne Mills, and Dr. Nikos Varelas all held leadership positions within both of the international collaborations that discovered the Higgs Boson, a key fundamental particle.

  • Photoemission Spectroscopy

    LAS is home to Sloan Fellow Dr. Misha Stephanov and a winner of the American Physical Society Buckley Prize, Dr. JC Campuzano, who was cited for innovations in angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy that transformed the study of strongly-correlated electronic systems.

  • Earth Science Research

    Dr. Kathryn Nagy, the Head of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, is investigating geochemical and biochemical reactions in Earth’s surface and near-surface regions that modulate presence of both nutrients and toxic elements.