Urbana, Ill. – Chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Diwakar Shukla is among four early-career professors who have been recognized by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences as Lincoln Excellence for Assistant Professors (LEAP) Scholars for their outstanding contributions and potential in research and teaching.

The LEAP award is granted to faculty early in their career based on scholarly productivity and contributions to the educational mission of their departments and the College of LAS. The selected LEAP Scholars will hold the title for two years and receive discretionary research funding for each of those two years. This is the fifth year for the Lincoln Excellence for Assistant Professors (LEAP) Scholars program to recognize early career professors. 

Diwakar Shukla joined the U of I in 2015.  He and his research group are working to develop computational methods to understand the structure and functions of proteins, and to understand biological processes in atomistic detail using molecular simulations. Diwakar is also a researcher for the Cancer Center at Illinois. He plans to use the funds from the LEAP award to complete projects at their initial stages, hire student help, or purchase equipment.

“I think encouragement is always good for an assistant professor or a junior faculty member, and it helps us work harder to focus on future problems and just focus on our research,” he said. “The recognition is basically just telling you that you are on the right path. The other aspect of the award is that it’s a recognition for the entire team.”

The other awardees include Carolyn Fornoff in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese; John Paul Meyers in the Department of African American Studies; Lisa Olshansky in the Department of Chemistry.


– Written by Kimberly Besler, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 

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