Beckman Institute celebrates 30 years

The+Beckman+Institute+sits+north+of+the+Engineering+Quad+in+Champaign+on+Oct.+4%2C+2016.+This+year%2C+the+institute+celebrates+its+30th+anniversary+with+events+throughout+the+year.
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Beckman Institute celebrates 30 years

The Beckman Institute sits north of the Engineering Quad in Champaign on Oct. 4, 2016. This year, the institute celebrates its 30th anniversary with events throughout the year.

The Beckman Institute sits north of the Engineering Quad in Champaign on Oct. 4, 2016. This year, the institute celebrates its 30th anniversary with events throughout the year.

The Daily Illini File Photo

The Beckman Institute sits north of the Engineering Quad in Champaign on Oct. 4, 2016. This year, the institute celebrates its 30th anniversary with events throughout the year.

The Daily Illini File Photo

The Daily Illini File Photo

The Beckman Institute sits north of the Engineering Quad in Champaign on Oct. 4, 2016. This year, the institute celebrates its 30th anniversary with events throughout the year.

By Sarah O'Bierne, Staff Writer

This year, the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology celebrates its 30th anniversary on campus. The institute opened in 1989 after a $40 million donation from alumnus Arnold Beckman and his wife, Mabel.

Beckman, a prominent chemist and inventor, graduated with his master’s from the University in 1923. He was the founder of the biomedical company Beckman Instruments, a professor at the California Institute of Technology, and a philanthropist.

Today, the institute embodies Beckman’s memory as a center for interdisciplinary research. The research encompasses integrative imaging, intelligent systems, molecular science and engineering.

Allison Wuller, sophomore in LAS, has participated in a psychology study at the Beckman Center and was intimidated by the grandeur of the building.

“Walking in was very intimidating,” Wuller said. “It’s a very professional environment. I showed up in sweats and felt so out of place.”

As a student architect, Phoebe Glimm, sophomore in FAA, appreciates the post-modern architecture of the building, which includes elements of the past with a modern touch.

“In that area, there are a lot of different kind of styles of buildings,” Glimm said. “But the Beckman Institute really jumps out at you. It looks like a rocket ship.”

Glimm said the purpose of the building influences the architecture.

“I think the Beckman building shows that they are doing new, cool stuff in here,” Glimm said. “You want to be able to convey the message through the exterior of what’s going on the inside so it draws people in.”

In total, 240 professors and 800 students from 50 departments across campus work there. Dr. Patricia Jones, associate director for research, coordinates the research efforts going on within the building.

Beckman has two facilities available to all campus users, the Biomedical Imaging Center and the Imaging Technology Group.

“Within BIC, we have the only magnetic resonance imaging scanners for human subjects on campus,” Jones said. “Within ITG, we have the only Visualization Lab complex that includes a 2 million frame per second camera, 3D scanner, 100-megapixel cameras, and high-end computer workstations with the latest image processing software.”

The institute, located on the south side of University Avenue between Matthews Avenue and Wright Street in Urbana, includes over 313,000 square feet of space with 11 bridges connecting the different wings. It houses a three-story laboratory and a five-story office wing.

Students and staff can see the institute at the anniversary events throughout 2019.

March 8-9 will be the next Beckman Institute open house. On April 10, there will be an artistic and spoken word performance followed by a reception.

Jones said the Beckman Institute is an important part of the University since its opportunities draw in top professors and students.

“At a larger scale, Beckman helps the University succeed,” Jones said. “We help support new superstar professors by providing them with office and lab space. We recruit outstanding young scholars to campus with our Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows programs, support outstanding Illinois students with a variety of student award programs, and we have cool community programs like concerts in the Atrium and a biannual public open house.”

The Beckman Institute offers unique research opportunities where experts from all fields work alongside each other.

“Beckman supports a unique mix of research that happens nowhere else,” Jones said. “Nowhere else would an aerospace engineer, materials scientist and chemist be able to have shared office and lab space to invent the next generation of self-healing polymers. Nowhere else would a toxicologist partner with a computer scientist to invent new eye tracking technologies for newborn babies in order to assess cognitive effects of chemical exposures.”

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