Four faculty elected to National Academy of Sciences


Diana Yates, Illinois News Bureau

Six University of Illinois professors have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest professional honors a scientist can garner. Four of the new members are from College of Engineering units.

Engineering at Illinois faculty membersTaekjip Ha, John A. Rogers, Catherine Murphy, and Steve Granick joined psychology professors Renée Baillargeon, and Gary Dell among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates announced by the Academy on April 28.

“National Academy memberships are among the highest academic honors our nation bestows,” said Phyllis M. Wise, the chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus. “These faculty members are recognized today as leaders in biophysics, chemistry, engineering, molecular biology and psychology. This is a great day for these scholars and for our campus.”

Taekjip Ha
Taekjip Ha
Taekjip Ha, the Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Endowed Professor in Physics, uses physical concepts and experimental techniques to study fundamental questions in molecular biology. He has developed new techniques that have enhanced the study of individual molecular interactions. His most recent work uses single-molecule measurements to understand protein-DNA interactions and enzyme dynamics.

Ha is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and is affiliated with the Beckman Institute and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. He also is co-director of the NSF-funded Center for the Physics of Living Cells at Illinois. Ha has previously been recognized with the Ho-Am Prize (Korea) and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, and is one of three Illinois faculty members recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the longest-standing honorary societies in the nation.

John Rogers
John Rogers
John Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering and director of the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, is a pioneer of flexible, stretchable, and transient electronics. He combines soft, stretchable materials with microscale and nanoscale electronic components to create classes of devices with a wide range of practical applications from medicine to sensing to solar energy.

Rogers is affiliated with the Beckman Institute and the departments of chemistry, bioengineering, electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical science and engineering. He has been awarded a MacArthur fellowship, a Lemelson-MIT award, and the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Materials Research Society, and the National Academy of Engineering.

Catherine Murphy
Catherine Murphy
Catherine Murphy, the Markunas Professor of Chemistry, works to develop inorganic nanomaterials for applications in biology and technology. Her group develops methods to manufacture tiny nanorods made of metals such as gold, silver, and copper, and investigates their uses for imaging cells, chemical sensing, and photothermal therapy. She also studies the environmental impact of nanoparticles and how their properties influence their behavior.

Murphy is the associate director of the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, and also is affiliated with the Micro and Nano Technology Laboratory and the Beckman Institute. She has received an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Steve Granick, professor emeritus of materials science and engineering, is an expert in the chemistry and physics of colloids and polymers. His work focuses on soft materials, working across disciplines to explore imaging, assembly, behavior, and interactions of molecules in living cells and specially designed colloidal particles. His work has broad applications in medicine, biology, chemistry, and manufacturing.

Granick also is affiliated with the departments of chemistry, physics, and chemical and biomolecular engineering at Illinois. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society. He retired from the University in 2014, and is currently director of the IBS Center for Soft and Living Matter, Korea.

Renée Baillargeon, a professor of psychology, is the director of the Infant Cognition Laboratory, where she studies infants’ physical, psychological, and moral reasoning. Her work has challenged previous theories of infant development by demonstrating that even very young infants are able to differentiate events that are physically possible from those that appear to be physically impossible, and that an infant’s ability to reason about how others will behave is more sophisticated than previously thought.

Psychology professor Gary Dell studies how people produce and understand sentences. He developed the first computational model of language production and used it to simulate properties of speech errors, or “slips of the tongue.” He later used related models to understand patterns of pathological speech production resulting from brain damage. His recent work focuses on how linguistic abilities change with experience and how such changes can be captured in neural networks.

"At the forefront of their respective fields, these faculty members exemplify the outstanding scholarship and innovation that makes the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign a portal of transformative knowledge and global impact," said Andreas Cangellaris, dean of the College of Engineering. "We are incredibly proud of this distinctive recognition of their contributions and accomplishments."

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. Founded in 1863, the Academy acts as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.