Celebrating LAS

LAS Welcomes President's Award Program Students

Students and faculty chat

Dean Tantillo (center) and Associate Dean Mannie Pollack (right) share a laugh with students. Photo by Matthew Kaplan

On September 20, Dean Astrida Orle Tantillo hosted the first College reception for LAS's President’s Award Program recipients. LAS recipients had the opportunity to meet their fellow scholarship students, faculty members and department heads, as well as senior administrators and academic advisors. Students gathered helpful tips about internships, course choices and activities options.

For the 2012-13 academic year there are 426 PAP students campus-wide; 307 of them are affiliated with LAS. The PAP is a merit-based award that was established in 1985 to attract high-achieving students from traditionally underrepresented groups to the University of Illinois. The PAP scholarship offers financial assistance of at least $5,000 per year and is available for four years.

Amalia Pallares at podium

Amalia Pallares delivers the keynote talk. Photo by Matthew Kaplan

Dean Tantillo provided welcoming remarks. Amalia Pallares, associate professor in the Latin American and Latino Studies Program and the Department of Political Science, gave a heartfelt and very personal address, discussing her experiences as the first member of her family to attend an American university and the challenges that experience posed. “I remember when I started college at the University of Houston,” she said. “I was the first of my siblings to start college in an American university. I was studying the school catalog as I prepared to register for my classes and I asked my father, who graduated college in Ecuador, what a credit hour was. He stared at me with a blank face. That’s when I knew I had my work cut out for me.”

Pallares also spoke about the self-doubt and insecurity new college students face and strongly advised that students reach out, form community, and not be afraid to ask questions. She elaborated on several specific pieces of advice, a number of which she had gathered from an informal Facebook-friends survey:

Do not confuse self-discipline and growing independence with isolation or pure self-reliance. Although college is a major transition from high school and no one will be keeping tabs on your schedule, don’t make the mistake of thinking that developing self-discipline means you have to be completely self-reliant. Find allies, build relationships with professors, and tap into the resources, people and mentors that are available to you.

If you don’t know, ask. Asking for help when you are stuck is not a sign of weakness but of strength.

Challenge yourself and try something different. Take at least one class that puts you outside your comfort zone, even if you don’t get as high a grade as you had hoped. Take something each semester that you will enjoy—even if it is outside your major.

Change is not failure. Don’t be afraid to withdraw from a course if it’s not what you expected and don’t think you can’t change your semester plan—or your master plan.

A poor grade is not the end of the world. It will happen occasionally. Consider it a challenge rather than a failure and use it as a motivator to persevere and build your skills.

College is not only a means to an end. Take the time to get involved in something meaningful. And definitely “savor the experience, the time in your life, the ability to be in an environment where the pursuit of knowledge is at the core, where you can discuss ideas, be exposed to art and culture and engage in fun activities. Enjoy it, it goes by too fast.”

Governor Visits Lab of Physics Professor Siva Sivananthan

Sivananthan, Pat Quill, Astrida Tantillo

Siva Sivananthan, Governor Pat Quinn, Astrida Orle Tantillo.

On September 21, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn visited the Sivananthan Laboratories where he learned about the lab’s pioneering research and ongoing innovation in molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), a technology widely used in the manufacture of semiconductor devices. MBE has more recently been found to be critical in the production of efficient solar cell energy and that is a major area in which Professor Sivananthan and his colleagues are currently innovating. Participating in the Governor’s fact-finding tour with Sivananthan were Jennifer Woodard, UIC associate vice chancellor for civic and corporate relations, Nancy Sullivan, director of UIC’s Office of Technology Management, and LAS Dean Astrida Orle Tantillo.

“It was an honor and a pleasure to be able to share the achievements of Siva Sivananthan—one of our outstanding alumni (PhD, ’88 physics) and faculty members—with Governor Quinn,” the Dean said. “I was delighted to visit Siva’s lab and to learn firsthand about its active role in building bridges between industry, academia and government. The College and Sivananthan Laboratories share a common belief in the importance of innovation, collaboration and education for overcoming complex economic and scientific problems.”

Professor Sivananthan was named an LAS Distinguished Professor in 2011 when he was honored for his work in the field of experimental condensed matter. He is Director of the Microphysics Laboratory in the Department of Physics. He has been a pioneer in the growth of single-crystal II-VI materials on silicon for 20 years and proposed their use for the manufacture of ultrahigh-efficiency single-crystal II-VI on silicon photovoltaic solar cells 15 years ago. Sivananthan founded EPIR Technologies in 1997 for the commercialization of MBE-grown CdTe on silicon (CdTe/Si) for defense infrared night vision applications and the development of ultrahigh-efficiency photovoltaic solar cells. EPIR has grown over the past decade out of Sivananthan’s basement into a world-class research and development organization and, more recently, a manufacturing enterprise. His honors include a 2005 “Friend of the Night” award by the U.S. Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate for his leadership in this field. Sivananthan serves as a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Infrared and Millimeter Waves and the National Advisory Board for the Nanotechnology Core Facility. His continuing contributions to the field of II-VI semiconductor research and development are evidenced by his over 200 refereed publications and his numerous invited talks.

BOV Members Party with the Stars at the 2012 Emmy Awards

John Leverence with Marian and Fruman Jacobson

John Leverence (center) with Fruman and Marian Jacobson.

Patricia and Michael Hausknost

Patricia and Michael Hausknost.

On September 23, LAS Board of Visitors members Patricia Hausknost (’74 teaching of German) and Fruman Jacobson (’70 history), along with their spouses Michael and Marian, rubbed elbows with Hollywood glitterati courtesy of LAS alumnus John Leverence (’68 English), senior vice president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The Hausknosts and Jacobsons were Leverence’s guests at the 64th Emmy Awards, enjoyed a special backstage tour, and attended the Governor’s Ball as part of their whirlwind weekend. Leverence has supervised the awards function at the Television Academy since 1980. About 13 million people watched the awards telecast this year. Photos by John Huebler

LSRI Welcomes Colleagues to Their New Space

Jim Pellegrino, Astrida Tantillo, Lon Kaufman, Susan Goldman

Jim Pellegrino, Astrida Orle Tantillo, Lon Kaufman, Susan Goldman.

On September 28, the Learning Sciences Research Institute celebrated its state-of-the-art new space in the Innovation Center by hosting an open house for friends and colleagues. Co-directors Susan Goldman and Jim Pellegrino gave a presentation on the history and mission of the LSRI. Dean Astrida Orle Tantillo and Provost Lon Kaufman provided congratulatory remarks. Visitors toured the facility and learned about the work of LSRI researchers via small-group discussions and demonstrations.

Man explains project in front of computer

Learning Sciences doctoral student Brian Slattery explains a project.

LSRI works toward improving educational practice through research, development and outreach. The field of Learning Sciences draws on expertise in behavioral, computer, developmental, educational, engineering, natural and social sciences. LSRI offers a five-year PhD program in which students combine study in the learning sciences with specialization in a traditional academic discipline. There are currently more than 100 institute members—a community that includes faculty, permanent and visiting staff, research associates, research faculty, post docs, and graduate and undergraduate students. Photos by Joshua Clark

LAS Faculty Services Awards: Mary Ashley and Nikos Varelas

Nikos Varelas, Astrida Tantillo, Mary Ashley

Nikos Varelas and Mary Ashley with Dean Astrida Orle Tantillo (center). Photo by Agnes Herget

On October 2, the LAS community celebrated the service of Mary Ashley, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and Nikos Varelas, professor in the Department of Physics. The LAS Faculty Service Award recognizes faculty members who have made extraordinary contributions to LAS via direct involvement with College committees and initiatives and through service to their departments, professions, and the community that bring benefit to, and further the mission of, the College.

Mary Ashley is an expert in the field of ecological genetics and conservation ecology. An outstanding and highly regarded biologist, she has also dedicated her services to the university and the College through various committees and research projects. In Professor Ashley’s 20 years at UIC, she has been Coordinator of the Ecology and Evolution group within the Department of Biological Sciences, served on 29 graduate student thesis committees, advised 17 minority undergraduate students in her laboratory, and provided advising for students conducting research at establishments such as the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Brookfield Zoo and the Field Museum of Natural History. Professor Ashley has also served on various university and College committees and research projects including a multimillion dollar National Science Foundation IGERT LEAP grant that provided fellowships to 25 graduate students. Professor Ashley also served on the LAS Executive Committee, the All Campus Promotion and Tenure Committee, the Ad Hoc Committee on Tenure-Line Faculty Teaching Assignments, the LAS Academic Priorities Task Force and the Graduate College Diversity Committee. She played a pivotal role in obtaining the ADVANCE WISEST grant from the NSF and served as the first senior faculty mentor for the program.

Nikos Varelas is an internationally-acclaimed expert in the field of precision studies of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD). He is a member of the D-Zero experiment at the Tevatron Collider at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and of the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Professor Varelas’s service is far-ranging. Through committees such as the Laboratory Renovation Committee he developed and implemented laboratory renovations central to the educational mission of the College. He also works with Fermilab and CERN to provide internships and research experience for undergraduate and graduate students. In the physics department, Professor Varelas has served on the Departmental Vision Committee, the Physics Advisory Committee, the Electronics Shop Task Force, and as an advisor for the Physics Secondary Education program. At the College level, Professor Varelas is a valued member of the LAS Executive Committee. In addition, he works with Quarknet, a National Science Foundation-funded program designed to introduce high school teachers and students to High Energy Physics research, and is chair of the Outreach Subcommittee of the Users Executive Committee at Fermilab. In recognition of his collaboration with the international team of scientists searching for the Higgs boson and his contributions to the advancement of science, Varelas received the Dean’s Outstanding Faculty Award at the 17th LAS Recognition Dinner.

Primary Documents Highlight Library Exhibit

Visitors at exhibit

The opening of the library’s Special Collections exhibit.

On October 5, approximately 50 people attended the opening of Commerce in Human Souls: The Legacy of the Atlantic Slave Trade, a Special Collections exhibit at the UIC Library. The exhibit, which features materials from three collections, provides a host of resources on the Atlantic Slave Trade for scholars, students and interested members of the public.

Man and woman discuss exhibit

UIC Librarian Mary Case (left) with Professor Toyin Falola.

Two women discuss exhibit

Exhibit curator Nancy Cirillo explains a document to visitor.

The library’s holdings include the Atlantic Slave Trade Collection, the Sierra Leone Collection and the H.D. Carberry Collection of Caribbean Studies. The exhibit was curated by Professor Emerita of English Nancy Cirillo, who rediscovered the collections while doing research on postcolonial literature. The exhibit, which runs through May 2013, was timed to open in conjunction with the Institute for the Humanities’ conference Slavery and Its Aftermath in the Atlantic WorldPhotos by Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

UIC Alumni Achievement Award to Barry Ganetzky

Ilona Rodan and Barry Ganetsky

Barry Ganetzky (right) and Ilona Rodan. Photo by Brian Kay

Among the honorees at the 2012 UIC Alumni V Awards was Dr. Barry S. Ganetzky (‘71 biological sciences), Steenbock Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received the Alumni Achievement Award at the celebratory dinner on October 12, in recognition of his work in genetics research and his contribution to the understanding of human neurological disorders, drug development and screenings. Ganetzky’s research has profound implications for conditions ranging from cardiac failure to neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006.

LAS Distinguished Professor Vladimir Gevorgyan

Vladimir Gevorgyan

Vladimir Gevorgyan. Photo by Matthew Kaplan

On October 23, the work of the College’s newest Distinguished Professor was celebrated as Vladimir Gevorgyan of the Department of Chemistry delivered a lecture on “Serendipity and Logic in Development of New Chemistry.”

A member of the organic chemistry faculty and the head of the Gevorgyan Group, Gevorgyan’s research interests focus on the development of regio- and chemoselective transition metal-catalyzed annulation reactions and their application in the synthesis of multifunctional, polysubstituted aromatic compounds; the development of novel robust transition metal-catalyzed methodologies for the synthesis of heterocyclic compounds; the development of novel direct and directed C-H functionalization methods; and the development of robust methodologies amenable for synthesis of small molecules libraries for wide biological screening. The focus of these projects is application: to develop new methodologies that can be used to synthesize molecules that are valuable building blocks in synthetic organic chemistry and material science and are of pharmaceutical relevance.

Professor Gevorgyan is the author of more than 170 scientific publications and has been cited more than 5,500 times worldwide. He was elected UIC Researcher of the Year (2008), Honorary Professor of St. Petersburg State University (2012) and a UIC University Scholar (2012).

The Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor Award was established in 2006 to commend exceptional faculty for their contributions to the LAS and UIC communities, as well as for their significant and sustained intellectual scholarship in their chosen fields. Each year, the Executive Committee of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences considers superlative candidates in the humanities, social sciences, the natural sciences or interdisciplinary fields.

Humanities Institute Focuses on Public Programming

Luis Urrea

Luis Urrea.

On November 3, the Institute for the Humanities and the College sponsored a program with LAS Distinguished Professor Luis Urrea as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival. Urrea, a professor in the Department of English Program for Writers, and a best-selling novelist, whose book Into the Beautiful North has been chosen for the 2013 BIG READ by the National Endowment for the Humanities, interviewed emerging Latina novelist Cristina Henriquez about contemporary Latino fiction. Following the program, guests enjoyed a reception with Urrea, Dean Tantillo and Institute Director Susan Levine.


Fall term was a very busy one for the Institute. In addition to the Urrea program, working group brown bags and a host of scholarly programs and lectures, they presented three major conferences: Slavery and Its Aftermath in the Atlantic World, which examined the history and repercussions of the Atlantic Slave Trade; Inequality and Exclusion: The Theory and Practice of Human Rights, which celebrated the 300th anniversary of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s birth and explored the influence of his Social Contract; and The Holy War Conference, which looked at iterations of religious violence across temporalities and space. In the spring, they will host a major international conference on Food Justice.

17th Annual LAS Recognition Dinner

The Dean, the Provost and LAS donors

Left to right: UIC Provost Lon Kaufman, LAS Dean Astrida Orle Tantillo, John Sullivan (’69 mathematics), Marian Jacobson, Fruman Jacobson (’70 history).

Alumni, students, faculty and friends celebrated the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on November 1 when they gathered for the LAS Recognition Dinner. Emcee for the evening was Marya Schechtman, associate dean and professor of philosophy. Dean Astrida Orle Tantillo provided welcoming remarks and presented awards for scholarship, research and philanthropy.

Two women

Celina Bondie (left) and Wendy Baxter.

Lucia Woods Lindley and Daniel Lindley were honored for their support of the Woods-Lindley Prize which provides funds in the teaching of English program for an outstanding student and teacher team each year. Awardees honored were Celina Bondie (2012 teaching of English) and her mentor Wendy Baxter, a classroom teacher at Roberto Clemente High School. John Huntington, interim head of the Department of English, accepted the award for the Woods-Lindleys.

Two women

Helga Kauf-Berman (left) and Michelle Reyes.

Michelle Reyes, a PhD candidate in Germanic Studies, received an award for her research scholarship and her benefactor, Helga Kauf-Berman, received the Special Recognition Award for her establishment and long-time support of excellence in research and teaching via the Robert Kauf Scholarships in Germanic Studies. Ms. Kauf-Berman gave a moving acceptance address and spoke about her late husband’s love of teaching and his commitment to his UIC students.

group of men and women

Left to right: Misty Richmond, Sandra Troxell-Smith, Lindsay Karson, Astrida Orle Tantillo, Jeff Coltman, Marta Witek.

The LAS Alumni Association Merit Awards were presented by LASAA Scholarship Chair Misty Richmond (2003, biological sciences). Receiving undergraduate awards were Jeff Coltman, psychology, and Lindsay Karson, neuroscience. Sandra Troxell-Smith, biological sciences, and Marta Witek, chemistry, took the graduate awards.

group of men and women

Left to right: Rick Cavanaugh, Cecilia Gerber, Astrida Orle Tantillo, Nikos Varelas, Mark Adams, David Hofman, interim head of physics.

Four members of the College’s High Energy Physics group received the Dean’s Outstanding Faculty Award for their contributions to scientific research and participation in the international search for the Higgs boson. Recipients were Professor Emeritus Mark Adams, Professors Cecilia Gerber and Nikos Varelas and Assistant Professor Richard Cavanaugh.

A woman and a man

Victor Harnack and Zizi Papacharissi, head of the communication department.

The LAS Donor of Distinction Award went to Professor Emeritus Victor Harnack in recognition of his philanthropy for establishing the Martha and Victor Harnack Endowment for the Department of Communication.

Astrida Tantillo and Howard Buhse

Howard Buhse and Dean Tantillo.

Howard E. Buhse, Jr., professor emeritus of biological sciences, received the Sustainer Achievement Award for his long-term philanthropy to his department. Both men were also honored for their years of dedicated service to the College and their departments.

Upcoming Events/Save the Date

How Did Chicago Become the Queer Crossroads of America?
Friday, March 8, 2013, 7:00 p.m.

Jennifer Brier, associate professor history and gender and women's studies presents a free History Mysteries program. Reception following. Space is limited, RSVP required: Lindavp@uic.edu

Food Justice: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
April 4-6, 2013

An Interdisciplinary group of scholars explores issues of food justice in historical context as well as in terms of contemporary policy debates. Information: lvavra@uic.edu; 312-996-6352