Three University professors receive Sloan fellowship

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

Three University professors are among 126 recipients of the 2018 Sloan Research Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, earning them a two-year $65,000 opportunity to further their research.

The awards honor early careers scholars whose achievements mark them as among the best scientific minds working today.  

This year’s recipients are materials science and engineering professors Qian Chen and Pinshane Huang and chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Ying Diao. All three professors joined University faculty in 2015.

Chen said in an email that the award makes her feel proud of herself and of her research team.

Chen’s research focuses on active soft matter, an artificial analog of living systems that can replicate, regenerate and ultimately evolve in a changing environment.

“It will allow us to see the dancing of macromolecules, molecules made through connections of the so-called repeating units, in the liquid environment, a secret for many artificial and living systems to function, yet not directly imaged before,” Chen said.

Receiving the award also has special meaning for Chen and her family.

“This award means a lot to me personally, especially as the mom of a 4-year-old girl,” Chen said. “A great example for me to tell her, capability has no gender bounds.”

Huang uses advanced electron microscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy techniques to study the structure, bonding, electronic and optical properties of materials at the atomic scale and to design new nanomaterials and devices.

Diao works to reinvent methodologies for directed assembly of functional molecules inspired by living systems and to realize high-performance printed functional materials to advance soft electronics and personalized healthcare.

“Our university has done a lot to support women faculty and make it a nurturing environment for women with career and family,” Chen said.

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