Fundamental Science & Math
Advancing Scientific Knowledge
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.
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.
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 the presence of both nutrients and toxic elements.
Related Resources and Awards
An Aberration Corrected Cold Field Emission Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope (JEOL JEM-ARM200CF), housed at the RRC, was purchased with a $2 million NSF grant awarded to Dr. Robert Klie (Physics). The instrument is capable of atomic resolution imaging of light elements while the cold field emission electron source allows for electron energy loss spectroscopy with high energy resolution. In addition to the original grant, Dr. Klie received an additional $600,000 for technological additions to this instrument. Dr. Klie’s involvement was instrumental is setting up an electron microscopy user center at RRC focused on atomic-resolution and in-situ materials characterization.
Dr. Mark Schlossman (Physics) was awarded an NSF grant to support a purchase of PILATUS3 X CdTe 1M for ChemMatCARS and GSECARS at the Advanced Photon Source to support research in the areas of chemical, material, and earth sciences. Located at the Argonne National Laboratory, the instrument also supports research at ChemMatCARS and GeoSoilEnviroCARS (GSECARS), national user facilities with a broad impact on the nation’s research and educational infrastructure. The instrument serves about 1,400 users annually. Studies of materials using this detector provide the foundation for our scientific understanding of materials at the atomic level.
The Departments of Chemistry and Physics run a fully equipped and staffed Machine, Electronics, and Glass Shop that allows them to develop non-commercially available instruments and equipment. The departmental NMR facility provides use of six high-field NMR spectrometers including a three-channel Bruker DRX 500 and a Bruker DPX 400 instruments.