Five MatSE faculty, one grad student bring home Excellence Awards


Emily Jankauski

Five MatSE faculty, including Pascal Bellon, Pinshane Huang, Nicola Perry, André Schleife and Nancy Sottos, are among the provost's and dean's office Excellence award-winners.
Five MatSE faculty, including Pascal Bellon, Pinshane Huang, Nicola Perry, André Schleife and Nancy Sottos, are among the provost's and dean's office Excellence award-winners.

URBANA, Ill. — Our faculty raise the standard of excellence when it comes to higher education and materials science and engineering research. Five MatSE faculty and one graduate student have been recognized for their excellence.

Pascal Bellon, the Donald W. Hammer Professor, is the recipient of the Provost’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.

Dean’s excellence award-winners include Pinshane Huang, associate professor and Ivan Racheff Faculty Scholar, earning the Rose Teaching Award; Arghya Patra, a MatSE grad student, bringing home the Ross J. Martin Award; Nancy Sottos, the Swanlund Chair of Materials Science and Engineering, Center for Advanced Study Professor and MatSE department head, receiving the Excellence in Translational Research Award; and Nicola Perry and André Schleife — assistant professor and associate professor, respectively — securing Excellence in Research awards.

“Congratulations to our faculty award-winners who have distinguished themselves for excellence in both teaching and research in materials science,” Sottos said.

That encouragement makes all the difference for faculty like Schleife, who is “humbled” to receive this award.

“It makes me very happy to be in an awesome research environment,” said Schleife, who aims to create cheaper and more efficient electronics and materials for bioimaging as well as contribute to finding future materials needed to build a quantum computer. “Collaborations are the strength of this university and department, and this is highly fruitful for my group and rewarding for me.”

Perry appreciates this collaborative environment in her efforts to design and discover new materials addressing the urgent issues of climate change and sustainability. She particularly enjoys investigating how defects, crystal chemistry and new nano-structures can be assembled to achieve unprecedented performance for energy applications.

“My group gets to combine creativity with detective work,” Perry said. “Given powerful, emerging tools — some of which we create — and a large materials space to explore, now is an exciting time to be working on solid-state ionic materials.”

Along the way, she aims to impart a love of learning to her students.

“My hope for the students is not only that they will become excellent scientists in the way they think and work in the lab, but more broadly that they will find joy in working together in our group with a healthy perspective on priorities and empowerment to apply their training to produce a beneficial impact,” Perry said.

That love of learning also resonates with Bellon, who views his work in the department as a “continuous” learning process.

“I love learning new things, sharing that knowledge and applying it for the greater good in society,” Bellon said. “I am grateful for the opportunities I found at Illinois and for the support I receive from colleagues and students.”

Speaking of opportunities, Sottos is thankful to conduct research that’s making a real-world impact. She enjoys being able to create top-notch research alongside so many brilliant Illinois collaborators.

“I appreciate the recognition for translating success in our research lab to new companies with potential for economic impact,” Sottos said.


Congratulations to all award-winners for their excellence.