Word came down from the Campus Committee on Promotion and Tenure in month three of the global pandemic, when good news was getting harder and harder to come by.
Seven years after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Georgia Tech, JESSICA CONROY was being bumped up from assistant to associate professor, one of just four such distinguished promotion awards given by the committee.
That was among several pieces of good news the geology professor has received since arriving in Champaign-Urbana, joining a list that also includes a National Science Foundation Career Award (2019), the UI Campus Research Board’s Arnold O. Beckman Award (2013) and four appearances on the Teachers Rated as Excellent charts.
A western New York native with one degree from Ohio’s College of Wooster and two from the University of Arizona, Conroy took us for a guided, virtual tour of some of her favorite places and spaces on and off campus.
Favorite place without walls on campus
I am in love with the Arboretum, especially the majestic bald cypress. I take many walks there with my husband and little ones in all seasons.
Just this last week, my daughter took her first steps in the Idea Garden.
Where I was when I got great news
I was in my office one spring day, very pregnant with my daughter, when I opened my email and learned I had won an NSF Career Award.
The first place I’d take a campus newcomer I wanted to impress
It would be my own gorgeous, red brick building, ‘NHB’ (the UI’s Natural History Building).
It’s a National Historic Landmark that’s been completely gutted and redone on the inside, complete with state-of-the art classrooms and labs.
The wooden atrium and stairwell on the north side are absolutely lovely.
Where my hosts took me when I interviewed here
NHB was in a different state when I interviewed there in 2012. It was quite shabby, and parts had even been condemned.
I remember having to navigate through a maze of metal poles supporting the ceiling. The department still won me over, though.
My hosts took me to Big Grove for dinner. It was a brisk November evening and I remember eating bratwurst, potato dumplings and sauerkraut, with a dark beer.
It felt like a good sign this was the place to be.
Reminds me of home
I grew up in Chautauqua County, located in rural, forested, western New York.
Walking around the woods of Allerton is about the closest I get to feeling like I’m at home.
The one thing I can’t wait to do once the pandemic outlook improves
I can’t wait until my kiddos are vaccinated so I can take my family out to dinner at a restaurant.
Favorite place to think
Walking and thinking go hand in hand for me.
I tend to do laps around the Quad when I’m not glued to my screen writing papers and proposals.
Favorite order at a local restaurant
A slice of spotted goat at Manolo’s.