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Bill Hammack, U. of I. engineering professor, named Jefferson Science Fellow

Sarah Scalia, News Bureau



CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Bill Hammack, a professor of chemical and of biomolecular engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been named a Jefferson Science Fellow by the U.S. Department of State.

Hammack is one of five tenured research scientists and engineers chosen to work alongside senior diplomats and policymakers for a year in Washington, D.C. Jefferson Science Fellows are asked to advise and also to educate.

Candidates for Jefferson Fellowships are selected based on their scientific achievements, communication skills and their ability to describe scientific topics accurately for non-expert audiences. They must also be interested in issues at the intersection of science, diplomacy and foreign policy.

Committed to enhancing what he calls engineering awareness and to adding a human face to the engineering enterprise, Hammack produces “Engineering and Life,” weekly radio essays on topics from air conditioning to Tupperware. The two- to three-minute essays are distributed by Illinois Public Radio, and can be heard locally on WILL-AM (580) on Tuesdays at 7:20 and 9:20 a.m. Hammack also teaches an engineering course for non-majors, “The Hidden World of Engineering.”

The Jefferson Science Fellows program was started in 2003 with grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArther Foundation and the Carnegie Corp. The fellowships are named for President Thomas Jefferson, who was interested in experimentation and promotion of scientific discovery as a citizen-scientist.

Hammack received his bachelor’s degree from the Michigan Technological University in 1984 and his master’s and doctorate, both from the U. of I., in 1986 and 1988, respectively.

Hammack has won the Excellence in Teaching Award in the U. of I.’s School of Chemical Sciences, the President’s Award from the American Society for Engineering Education, and the award for Distinguished Literary Contributions Furthering the Public Understanding of the Profession from the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers.