CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Center for Advanced Study has appointed seven new members to its permanent faculty. CAS professors are selected based on their outstanding scholarship, and the appointments are one of the highest forms of campus recognition at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
The new CAS professors are Sharon M. Donovan, food science and human nutrition; Jeffrey S. Moore, chemistry and materials science and engineering; Harriet Murav, Slavic languages and literatures; Cynthia Oliver, dance; Donald R. Ort, plant biology and crop sciences; Gary Parker, civil and environmental engineering; and Nancy Sottos, materials science and engineering.
They join 24 other CAS professors with permanent appointments. CAS professors deliver the annual lecture, serve on the committee that selects the CAS associates and fellows each year and are called upon for advice on matters related to the center.
Deans, directors, department heads and current CAS professors submit nominations of the campus’s most productive faculty members for permanent appointment to the center. For science faculty members, election to the relevant national academy is a criterion for appointment as a CAS professor. Faculty members in the humanities, social sciences and the arts should have a distinguished publication or creative repertoire and received significant national grants or awards to be considered.
Donovan is an internationally recognized leader in the field of nutrition. Her lab conducts research in pediatric nutrition, currently focused on optimizing intestinal and cognitive development of neonates, development of the gut microbiome and prevention of childhood obesity and picky eating in children. She is the author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, and has received more than $35 million in grant support. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and recently was appointed as director of the new Personalized Nutrition Initiative at Illinois.
Moore is the director of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. His lab is studying the intersection between chemistry and mechanics, testing the “mechanophore hypothesis,” which states that force drives chemical change in selective and productive ways. The goal is to invent materials that have new functionality, such as the ability to repair themselves when damaged. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has published more than 400 articles covering topics from technology in the classroom to self-healing polymers, mechanoresponsive materials and shape-persistent macrocycles.
Murav is a literary scholar whose research focuses on Russian and Yiddish literature. She is the author of five books and the editor of Slavic Review. Her new project is “Hefker: The Literature of Abandonment and the Russian Civil War,” thinking about the overlap between phenomenology and Yiddish and Russian poetry and theory of the 1920s, and how experimental poetic language – particularly sound – transfers experience to readers. Her awards include the MLA Scaglione Prize for Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Oliver is an associate vice chancellor for research in the humanities, arts and related fields. Her work is a mélange of dance theater and spoken word, incorporating textures of Caribbean performance with African and American sensibilities. Her most recent choreographic work, “Virago-Man Dem,” which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, examined the nuances and complexities of contemporary Black masculinities. Her scholarly writing focuses on the politics of the dance scene, relations between dance and other contemporary art movements, and the lives of Black women in the Caribbean.
Ort’s research seeks to improve photosynthesis performance in crops under changing environmental conditions including rising carbon dioxide levels, high temperatures and drought. He is the acting director of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, where he leads the Genomic Ecology of Global Change research theme that aims to create a more robust agricultural system despite climate changes. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has been listed by ISI/Clarivate Analytics as one of the most cited authors in animal and plant biology every year since 2016.
Parker’s research activities involve the use of fundamental techniques of fluid mechanics and applied mathematics to treat interesting geomorphological problems. His major research interests are the mechanics of sediment-laden flow in rivers and turbidity currents. Related special research includes the mechanics of river meandering; oceanic turbidity currents; sorting of mixed gain sediment by fluvial processes; bank erosion and protection using permeable dikes and vegetation; and reservoir sedimentation. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards related to hydraulics research.
Sottos is the department head and Swanlund Chair of materials science and engineering and leads the Autonomous Materials Systems group at the Beckman Institute. Her research involves the study of the mechanics of complex, heterogeneous materials such as self-healing polymers and advanced composites; mechanochemically active polymers; and novel materials designed for reliable energy storage. She is a Fellow of the Society of Engineering Science and the Society for Experimental Mechanics, and she’s been elected to the National Academy of Engineering.