Five professors named Swanlund Chairs

URBANA — The University of Illinois has announced five new Swanlund Chairs, the highest endowed titles for professors on the Urbana campus.

The new Swanlund chairs include Eric Freyfogle, law; Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, chemistry; Thomas Huang, electrical and computer engineering; John Rogers, materials science and engineering; and Stephen Sligar, biochemistry.

"Their contributions in teaching, discovery and engagement continue to push the boundaries of what we know and how we use that knowledge to make a better world," said Chancellor Phyllis Wise. "These five distinguished members of our faculty raise the expectations and the aspirations of all of us in the Illinois family," she said in a release.

Freyfogle's work draws upon history, philosophy, biological sciences, economics and literature and is guided by a conservation ethic that seeks better ways for humans to live in nature. He is the author or editor of 12 books focusing on issues involving the complex relationship between humans and nature and has lectured around the world on these topics.

Hammes-Schiffer's research focuses on the investigation of proton, electron and proton-coupled electron transfer reactions in chemical, biological and interfacial processes. Her research has important implications for protein engineering and drug design, and for the interpretation of experimental results in this field.

Huang has spent his career making major contributions to human-centered computing in general and to image processing/computer vision in particular. Because of his work, there are now a seemingly endless number of ways to capture, store and share images, according to the UI release. He has contributed more than anyone else to the technical underpinning of current international fax, image and video-compression standards.

Rogers' groundbreaking research on flexible formats for electronic devices has transformed the way the world thinks about electronics manufacturing, devices for solar-energy conversion, and the interfaces between electronics and biology. His research includes fundamental and applied aspects of nano- and molecular-scale fabrication as well as materials and patterning techniques for unusual electronic and photonic devices, with an emphasis on bio-integrated and bio-inspired systems. Two major startup companies have evolved from his work: MC10 and Semprius.

Sligar revolutionized mammalian gene expression and mutagenesis by creating novel synthetic genes for bacterial expression. He invented "nanodisc" device technology to isolate, characterize and deliver membrane proteins. He has made pioneering and seminal contributions to metalloprotein biochemistry and biophysics, including cytochrome P450s, hemoglobin, myoglobin and electron transfer proteins.

This year's five new chairs join 10 other scholars who are current Swanlund chairs. The program was made possible by a gift from alumna Maybelle Leland Swanlund. Swanlund received a degree in library studies from Illinois in 1932 and died in 1993. She provided the UI with a $12 million endowment for chairs to attract leaders in the arts and sciences at the university and recognize current faculty members who have made exceptional contributions in their fields. The awards are for five years and may be renewed.

The other Swanlund chairs are Tamer Basar, electrical and computer engineering; May Berenbaum, entomology; Leon Dash, journalism; Nigel Goldenfeld, physics; Laura Greene, physics; Frederick Hoxie, history; Arthur Kramer, psychology; Gene Robinson, entomology; Klaus Schulten, physics; and Daniel Sullivan, theater.

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