CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Three University of Illinois professors have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the longest-standing honorary societies in the nation. Tere R. O'Connor, a professor of dance; John A. Rogers, the Swanlund Chair of Materials Science and Engineering; and Wilfred A. van der Donk, the Richard E. Heckert Endowed Chair in Chemistry, will join other new members in an induction ceremony in October at the academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.
O'Connor, a choreographer since 1982, has created commissioned work for the Lyon Opera Ballet; the White Oak Dance Project and its artistic director, Mikhail Baryshnikov; and more than 35 pieces for his New York-based company, Tere O'Connor Dance. He has received a Doris Duke Artist Award (2013), three New York Dance and Performance Awards (Bessies), and has been named a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow (2009) and a Guggenheim Fellow (1993). He is known for his dance advocacy through writing, teaching, mentoring and speaking engagements.
Rogers, the director of the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, has pioneered flexible, stretchable electronics, creating pliable products such as cameras with curved retinas, medical monitors in the form of temporary tattoos, a soft sock that can wrap an arrhythmic heart in electronic sensors, and LED strips thin enough to be implanted directly into the brain to illuminate neural pathways. His work in photovoltaics serves as the basis for commercial modules that hold the current world record in efficiency. Rogers is affiliated with the U. of I. Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and holds joint appointments in the departments of bioengineering, chemistry, electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical science and engineering. His most notable honors include the 2013 American Ingenuity Award in physical sciences from Smithsonian Magazine; a MacArthur Foundation "genius" fellowship (2009); and a Lemelson-MIT Prize (2011). He has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering and has been named a fellow of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Physical Society, the Materials Research Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Van der Donk, who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, focuses on harnessing enzyme functions for the discovery and design of new anti-inflammatory agents and antibiotics, particularly the activity and synthesis of lantibiotics and phosphonate antibiotics, with the aim of using natural synthesis pathways to find new compounds or enhance the medical properties of known compounds. He was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011, and is affiliated with the U. of I. Institute for Genomic Biology.