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CHAMPAIGN — Eight University of Illinois professors have been elected fellows of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science for outstanding contributions to the field.

Among the 443 people to be honored in Washington, D.C., in February are: plant biology Professor Elizabeth “Lisa” Ainsworth; mechanical science and engineering Professor Andrew Alleyne; materials science and engineering Professor David Cahill; chemistry Professor Paul Hergenrother; entomology Professor Andrew Suarez; and computer science Professors Sheldon Jacobson, Klara Nahrstedt and Tao Xie.

Ainsworth is research leader of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit, examining genetic variation in crop responses to air pollution and climate change.

Alleyne, a scientific adviser to the Air Force, is recognized for his contributions to the theory and practice of automatic control, with applications in advanced manufacturing.

Cahill was head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering from 2010 to 2018 and is an expert on minimum thermal conductivity and transient optical measurement techniques.

Hergenrother is an expert in the molecular basis of disease and has translated discoveries into real-world applications, including advances in the way new medicines for cancer are discovered and developed.

Jacobson uses his expertise in operations research and data science to inform public policy, from election analysis and political redistricting to pediatric vaccines, cellphone use while driving, NCAA “bracketology” and links between obesity and transportation.

Nahrstedt, director of the Coordinated Science Laboratory, is an expert in multimedia systems and networks. Her work on energy-efficient operating systems for mobile multimedia devices is widely recognized in academia and industry.

Suarez, head of the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior, is an ant expert and a leading figure in conservation and invasion biology. He pioneered an approach to understanding the success of invasive species that is considered the gold standard in the field.

Xie is an expert in software testing, analytics and security; the intersection between software engineering and artificial intelligence; and educational software engineering.


Julie Wurth is a reporter covering the University of Illinois at The News-Gazette. Her email is, and you can follow her on Twitter (@jawurth).