Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

UIC faculty recognized at 2022 Researcher, Scholar, and Inventor of the Year Awards

Ceremony at Chicago's Field Museum celebrated outstanding research achievements

Fourteen UIC faculty members were honored at the 2022 Researcher, Scholar, and Inventor of the Year awards ceremony, held April 12th at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History. Vice Chancellor of Research Joanna Groden presented five Distinguished Researcher and Scholar awards and seven Rising Star awards to faculty hailing from colleges and departments across the UIC campus, celebrating their outstanding achievements and contributions to their fields. Suseelan Pookote, Senior Director of the Office of Technology Management, presented the award for Inventor of the Year to two UIC faculty members.

You can read more about the winners below a gallery of photos from the event.

Researcher, Scholar, and Inventor of the Year Awards 2022 Heading link

  1. Ian Battaglia
    Vice Chancellor of Research Joanna Groden presents the award for Rising Star in Basic Life Sciences to Yu "Tom" Gao, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences.
  2. Ian Battaglia
    Vice Chancellor of Research Joanna Groden presents the award for Rising Star in Clinical Sciences to Afsar Naqvi, associate professor of peridontics, and adjunct associate professor of microbiology and immunology.
  3. Ian Battaglia
    Vice Chancellor of Research Joanna Groden presents the award for Distinguished Researcher in Clinical Sciences to Krista Varady, professor of kinesiology and nutrition.
  4. Ian Battaglia
    Vice Chancellor of Research Joanna Groden presents the award for Rising Star in Social Sciences to Jennifer A. Jones, associate professor of sociology and Latin American and Latino studies.
  5. Ian Battaglia.
    Inventor of the Year awardees Michael Caffrey, professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, and Igor Paprotny, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Basic Life Sciences

Rising Star: Yu (Tom) Gao, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy. Gao studies interactions between proteins and other small molecules to understand cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, asthma, cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases. His research combines tools from chemical biology, mass spectrometry and bioinformatics to gain information on these intermolecular interactions at a level and sensitivity not previously possible.

Distinguished Researcher: Yulia Komarova, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Regenerative Medicine, College of Medicine. Komarova’s research interests include vascular biology, lung biology and pathophysiology, inflammation signaling mechanisms and cell receptors & signaling.  Her work helps identify novel therapeutic targets to treat inflammatory diseases.

Clinical Sciences

Rising Star (tie): Zackery Bulman, PharmD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy. Bulman’s research addresses the problem of antibiotic resistance, a critical threat to humans. His research aims to repurpose existing antibiotics for emerging pathogens by applying a precision medicine approach to infectious diseases that uses the bacterial genotype to select optimal antibiotic regimens specific for each patient’s pathogen.

Rising Star (tie): Afsar Naqvi, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Periodontics, College of Dentistry. Naqvi’s research focuses on dissecting epigenetic regulation of periodontal disease, an infectious disease of the gums that affects approximately 47% of adults over the age of 30 and is the most common cause of tooth loss in the United States. His work focuses on identifying and characterizing the role of non-coding RNAs in pathogen-host communication.

Distinguished Researcher: Krista Varady, PhD, Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, College of Applied Health Sciences. Varady’s research addresses the treatment and prevention of obesity, specifically, the efficacy of intermittent fasting diets to help individuals lose weight and lower their risk of diabetes and heart disease. Her lab was the first to show that time restricted eating naturally reduces energy intake by about 500 calories/day and produces significant weight loss in people with obesity.

Natural Sciences and Engineering

Rising Star (tie): Yayue Pan, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, College of Engineering. Pan is the founder and director of the Additive Manufacturing Research Laboratory, which focuses on novel additive manufacturing processes, multi-material and multi-functional 3D printing and geometric modeling for direct digital manufacturing. The lab has established several hardware test beds and software test beds to perform experimental and theoretical research.

Rising Star (tie): Ian Tobasco, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Tobasco is an applied analyst, a mathematician with deep understanding of pure analysis and differential equations who makes a conscious effort to engage engineers and scientists in problems arising in the world. He is best known for his work on a mathematical framework that treats wrinkling patterns, which aims to understand what patterns of wrinkles emerge from some kind of “crumpling” motion and has application in engineering problems.

Distinguished Researcher: Eben Alsberg, PhD, Richard Loan Hill Chair, departments of Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Pharmacology and Regenerative Medicine, and Orthopaedic Surgery, colleges of Engineering and Medicine. Alsberg specializes in engineering functional biologic replacements to repair damaged or diseased tissues in the body. His research examines the complex signals that are implicated in tissue morphogenesis, repair and homeostasis and uses them as a template for the development of innovative strategies for tissue regeneration.

Social Sciences

Rising Star: Jennifer A. Jones, PhD, Associate Professor, departments of Sociology and Latin American and Latino Studies, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Jones conducts research at the intersection of the sociology of race, immigration and politics that transforms the understanding of how race shapes group and individual identities, and how it shapes meaning-making.

Distinguished Researcher: Alexandra Filindra, PhD, Associate Professor, departments of Political Science and Psychology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Filindra’s scholarship focuses on the meaning and scope of democratic citizenship, exploring this idea in multiple ways and settings, primarily through immigration and gun politics. Her work on gun politics is situated at the intersection of race and gender politics and draws on critical race theory, history, criminal justice perspectives and political psychology.

Humanities, Arts, Design and Architecture

Rising Star: Ronak K. Kapadia, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Kapadia conducts interdisciplinary research that engages critical ethnic studies, transnational queer and feminist studies, visual culture and performance studies and critical studies of US empire and the national security state.

Distinguished Scholar: Mark Canuel, PhD, Professor, Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Canuel’s research focuses on political theory, aesthetics and literary form. He explores the ways in which literary art is central to the conceptualizing and reshaping of modern institutions.

Inventor of the Year

Michael Caffrey, PhD, Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, College of Medicine, and Igor Paprotny, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering. Caffrey and Paprotny developed an automated air quality monitoring sensor for viruses and other small sized particles to tackle a lack of quality control methods used in monitoring systems. Caffrey is a structural biologist instrumental in defining the structures of several viral proteins and leveraging these insights to understand how viruses enter cells. Paprotny’s expertise is in the design, modeling and fabrication of mechatronic and air-microfluidic devices based on nano- and microfabrication technologies.