Illinois Ignite: Researchers to Showcase Breakthroughs in Healthcare, Computing, and Advanced Manufacturing

Illinois Ignite 2020 will feature technologies and startups from the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois-Chicago, and Illinois Institute of Technology. The virtual showcase will focus on breakthroughs in healthcare, computing, advanced manufacturing, and more.

Pre-recorded presentations will be posted on September 24, 2020, and will remain live until October 9, 2020.

>> Register for the virtual event, here.


University of Chicago researchers presenting, include:

Advanced Materials and Manufacturing //

  • John Anderson: Bringing Batteries to the Molecular Scale: Fundamentally New Tunable Materials for High-Performance Cathodes

John Anderson joined the University of Chicago in 2015 after completing his post-doctoral work at Northwestern University and doctoral research at California Institute of Technology. His research focuses on developing inorganic synthetic chemistries to solve problems relevant in nature, energy, and new materials. He is the recipient of the 2019 Sloan Research Fellowship, 2018 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, and 2017 National Science Foundation Career Award.

  • Jiwoong Park: Building Atomically Thin Circuits for Future

Jiwoong Park is focused on building atomically-thin integrated circuitry and exploring novel electrical, optical and optoelectronic properties in low-dimensional nanostructures for the development of advanced devices. He is an expert in the emerging field of 2D layered materials having participated in the 2018 TedxKFAS as a speaker, recipient of an NSF CAREER award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and is an Associate Editor of Nano Letters.

  • Bozhi Tian: Tissue-like Materials: From Bioelectronics to Trainable Systems

Bozhi Tian’s research is focused on probing the molecular-nano interface between biological and semiconductor systems, placing an emphasis on novel material synthesis and device conception to solve biological problems. He has established an approach for the systematic design of silicon structures for multiscale and optically-controlled bio-interfaces. Using this approach, he has developed free-standing silicon nanomaterials for neuronal and immune cell modulation and a silicon mesh for remote modulation of organ electrical activity. Dr. Tian’s accolades include Inaugural ETH Materials Research Prize for Young Investigators (2017), C&EN’s Talented 12 (2017), Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) (2016), NIH new innovator award (2016), ONR young investigator award (2016), and Sloan fellowship (2016).

Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Autonomy //

  • Ravi Chugh: Everyday Coding with Graphical User Interfaces

Ravi Chugh develops programming language technology spanning type systems, synthesis algorithms, and other program analysis techniques for applications in software engineering and human-computer interaction (HCI). The overarching theme of his current research efforts is the development of direct manipulation programming systems that integrate the expressive power of programming languages with the ease-of-use of GUIs. His most recent work in this space is the Bidirectional Evaluation with Direct Manipulation algorithm, which synthesizes program changes based on output changes made by the user. He joined the University of Chicago in 2014 as an Assistant Professor and is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Career Award.

Oncology //

  • James Labelle: Drugging FOXP3 Through Molecular Mimicry and Delivery of Peptide Therapeutics Using Supramolecular Nanoparticles

James LaBelle’s research focuses on dissecting and pharmacologically targeting intracellular proteins to induce cancer cell death and manipulate the immune response. His group focuses on using portions of the actual proteins, or peptides, as drugs and biological tools to uncover specific molecular pathways in diseased and normal cells. Peptide-based therapeutics have enormous potential for immune modulation and direct cancer treatment, but have traditionally lacked efficient stabilization and delivery within patients, and thereby, have had limited clinical applications. His group is working to overcome these barriers within the lab and through collaboration with nanotechnologists and chemical engineers. Labelle is a recipient of the 2016 Hoogland Lymphoma Pilot Project Award, the 2016 Abbvie-UChicago Collaboration in Oncology Award, the 2018 Hyundai Hope on Wheels Scholar Award, and the 2020 American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award.

Rare Diseases & Autoimmunity //

  • Yamuna Krishnan: Sub-Cellular Nanotechnology for Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

Yamuna Krishnan builds quantitative chemical maps of organelle lumens using the tools of bionanotechnology. The dysfunction of lysosomes, organelles that engulf and degrade nutrients and cell debris in most living cells, is associated with several human ailments, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, as well as certain rare genetic disorders. With this technology, her work is looking to classify diseases such as Alzheimer’s into different sub-types and then start looking at specific drugs for specific sub-types. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2017 Infosys Prize and Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award for Chemical Sciences. She is also the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Esya Labs.

Synthetic Biology //

Wu’s research is dedicated to understanding the dynamics, signaling, and clinical applications of epidermal stem cells. He is using genetically modified skin as an engineering platform to provide a solution for diseases beyond skin disorders. He is the founder of two companies, GeCell Therapeutics and Maponos Therapeutics, and recipient of the 2012 V scholar award.

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