Four LAS Faculty Receive 2014 UIC Researcher of the Year Awards

The University of Illinois at Chicago Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCR) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2014 UIC Researcher of the Year awards. These honors recognize the efforts and commitment of scholars who have demonstrated outstanding research and scholarly achievements to advance the knowledge in their field of expertise.

The Distinguished Researcher award is given to five UIC researchers who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in their field of expertise. The Rising Star award is given to five UIC early career scholars who have demonstrated outstanding promise to become future leaders in their area of expertise.

The 2014 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Honorees are:

*Distinguished: Wonhwa Cho, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Chemical Biology, Chemistry, Liberal Arts & Sciences. Dr. Cho has made several seminal advances to his field of chemical biology in the area of protein-lipid interactions. In 2011, his group developed a breakthrough sensor-based fluorescence imaging technique that allows accurate time-resolved determination of local lipid concentrations in living cells. This technique not only provided a powerful new tool for monitoring all lipid processes but also revealed critical new information that lipids serve as local allosteric regulators that control a wide variety of biological processes. This paradigm shifting discovery has been widely recognized and will continue to have significant impact on drug-development strategies to treat major classes of diseases. Dr. Cho is the sole PI on three NIH R01 grants.

*Rising Star: Roger Reeves, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, English, Liberal Arts and Sciences. Dr. Reeves emergence as a major poet has been extraordinarily swift and decisive since his first faculty appointment as an Assistant Professor at UIC in 2011. Reeves poetry has had an effect on the literary field by virtue of the combination of extraordinary technical skill and scope, from poems focused on the African American experience, both historical and contemporary, to other moments of historical and personal trauma . Professor Reeves takes his work into the community through readings and activities in Chicago Public Schools. His individual poems have won a series of major prizes and national fellowships including at the National Endowment for the Arts and Princeton University. His first book, King Me, received the 2014 Larry Levis Reading Prize and the John C. Zacharis First Book Award. His work has been endorsed by major scholars including Natasha Trethewey, Poet Laureate of the United States.

*Rising Star: Robert Klie, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Physics, Liberal Arts and Sciences. Dr. Klie's group focuses on atomic-resolution characterization of materials using scanning transmission electron microscopy and spectroscopy. He has pioneered new techniques to explore the fundamental mechanisms that govern the structure-property relationships in condensed matter systems. He was responsible for bringing the JEOL JEM-ARM200CF to UIC, a state-of-the-art aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscope, one of the highest resolution instruments in the United States. In 2013, Klie's team discovered a novel approach of encapsulating liquid containing samples between two single layers of graphene, allowing samples to be directly imaged at atomic resolution in their native state. In addition to the substantial improvement in resolution, he demonstrated that the superior conductivity of graphene can be used to prevent damage to biological samples expos ed to electron beams, comparable to standing a few feet from a nuclear blast. Klie's group has worked with collaborators from bioengineering, chemistry, and dentistry to image the structure and dynamics of proteins in tooth enamel, the composition of cells in diseased lung tissue, and the dynamics of cathodes for next generation batteries. His work was featured in Advanced Materials, one of the highest impact favor journals in Materials Physics.

*Rising Star: Stewart Shankman, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Psychology, Liberal Arts and Sciences. Dr. Shankman examines emotional and neurobehavioral mechanisms that connote risk for psychiatric disorders. He is perhaps most known for his work on what emotional processes separate depression from anxiety disorders (two disorders that co-occur a great deal but are separable). Dr. Shankman uses a multi-method approach utilizing neuroscience, physiological measures, and more recently, genetics. He successfully leveraged a Chancellor's Discovery Fund award into a NIH R01 longitudinal study examining multiple emotional and cognitive risk factors for depression and anxiety disorders. He has published several high impact papers showing that a low responsively to rewarding stimuli is more related to depression than anxiety and a heighted response to unpredictability is more related to anxiety than depression. With the increased diagnosis of mood disorders and the negativ e and costly implications on the workforce, this multidisciplinary approach to understand the pathophysiology and treatment of mood disorders can have a tremendous impact on society. Dr. Shankman is already helping to mentor the next generation of researchers and is currently the primary sponsor for two predoctoral NRSA fellowship grants and the mentor on three NIH K awards.

The OVCR would like to thank the campus community for the wealth of compelling nominations submitted for the Researcher of the Year Awards which are a testimony to the depth and range of scholarly excellence at UIC.

In honor of the recipients of the UIC Researchers of the Year Award, an awards ceremony and reception will be held on February 25, 2015 from 3:30 pm to 6:00pm in the Michele M. Thompson Rooms of the UIC Student Center West at 828 South Wolcott Avenue.

To RSVP for the award ceremony, or for more information, please go to