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Eight Illinois faculty members elected fellows of AAAS

Wilfred van der Donk
Photo by
Don Hamerrman

Wilfred van der Donk, the Richard  E. Heckert Endowed Chair in Chemistry, was one of eight Illinois professors elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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12/6/2011 | Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor | 217-244-1073;

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Eight University of Illinois faculty members have been elected fellows in the American Association for the Advancement of Science: Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, Rashid Bashir, Debasish Dutta, K. Jimmy Hsia, Keith W. Kelley, Wilfred van der Donk, M. Christina White and James Whitfield.

Fouad Abd-El-Khalick

Fouad Abd-El-Khalick

Rashid Bashir

Rashid Bashir

Debasish Dutta

Debasish Dutta

K. Jimmy Hsia

K. Jimmy Hsia

Keith Kelley

Keith Kelley

Christina White

M. Christina White

James Whitfield
James Whitfield

Photos by L. Brian Stauffer except Dutta

The Illinois researchers are among 539 new fellows chosen by their peers for their efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. The new fellows will be honored at the AAAS annual meeting in February.

“These faculty members embody the spirit of excellence that characterizes Illinois scholarship,” said Phyllis M. Wise, the chancellor of the Urbana campus and a vice president of the university. “Such commitment to quality inspires their colleagues and students, and advances Illinois as a leader in academics, research and innovation.”

Abd-El-Khalick, a professor and the head of curriculum and instruction, was elected for his outstanding research on teachers’ and students’ conceptions of the nature of science that helped provide a foundation for this field of research.

Bashir, the Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering in the departments of electrical and computer engineering and bioengineering, was honored for distinguished contributions to the field of BioMEMS and biomedical nanotechnology, particularly development of miniaturized sensors for medical and biological applications.

Bashir also directs the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory and is affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, the Institute for Genomic Biology and the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Lab.

Dutta, the dean of the Graduate College and associate provost, was recognized for distinguished and sustained contributions to the field of product design automation and life cycle management, and for leadership in interdisciplinary graduate education. He is the Gutgsell Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering and a professor of industrial and enterprise systems engineering.

Hsia, a professor of mechanical science and engineering and of bioengineering, was chosen for contributions to applied mechanics including the understanding of crack propagation in brittle materials and the role of mechanics in biological materials. He is the associate vice chancellor for research for new initiatives, and is affiliated with the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory.

Kelley, a professor of immunophysiology in the department of animal sciences, was selected for exceptional and scholarly contributions in brain, behavior and immunity by recognizing and advancing the physiology of immunology and its role in communicating with the brain. Kelley also is a professor of pathology, of nutritional sciences and of neuroscience.

Van der Donk, the Richard  E. Heckert Endowed Chair in Chemistry, was recognized for pioneering contributions to the discovery of natural products and the elaboration of their biosynthesis. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator and an affiliate of the Institute for Genomic Biology.

White, a professor of chemistry, was honored for discoveries of novel, highly useful catalytic methods for oxidative functionalization of aliphatic and allylic C-H bonds and delineation of predictable rules for reaction selectivities.

Whitfield, a professor of entomology, was chosen for groundbreaking contributions toward understanding the evolution, diversification and classification of the hyperdiverse parasitic Hymenoptera and their mutualistic polydnaviruses. Whitfield is affiliated with the Illinois Natural History Survey, a unit of the Prairie Research Institute at the U. of I.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, was founded in 1848. Fellows are chosen for their outstanding contributions to the field, a tradition since 1874.

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