College of Arts and Sciences

Programs of Excellence

Program of Excellence LogoThe Program of Excellence initiative was established to promote an innovative, cutting-edge, interdisciplinary academic program that will help bring distinction to the College and the University.

Guidelines for the Program of Excellence

The guidelines for the Program of Excellence specify that the program should be clearly interdisciplinary, drawing substantively on the disciplinary expertise of two or more academic departments. Unique and innovative disciplinary collaborations were highly encouraged, even those across collegial borders. The program itself should be clearly distinctive, unlike any other program in the state of Illinois. As such, the program should attract considerable national attention. The proposed program should draw on existing personnel and resources as much as possible. The program may be an undergraduate or graduate certificate program, a new minor, a new sequence in an existing major, or a program devoted exclusively to primary research.

Biomathematics: MS Sequence and Cross-Disciplinary Research at the Interface of Biology and Mathematics

Scientist looking into an electron microscope. The “Biomathematics: MS Sequence and Cross-Disciplinary Research at the Interface of Biology and Mathematics” is a new master’s sequence that incorporates cross-disciplinary research as integral to the curriculum. Through this Master’s sequence, students will choose a series of courses concentrated in one of three critical areas of Biomathematics (theoretical and applied statistics, deterministic and stochastic modeling, or computation and bioinformatics) and conduct thesis research within the cross-disciplinary field of Biomathematics. The program draws on the expertise of 17 faculty: from Biological Sciences, Diane Byers, Kevin Edwards, Paul Garris, Craig Gatto, Steven Juliano, Sabine Loew, Scott Sakaluk, and Charles Thompson; from Mathematics, Fusun Akman, Olcay Akman, Fuxia Cheng, Roger Eggleton, Saad El-Zanati, Heather Gavlas, Dong-Yun Kim, and Shailesh Tipnis. There is no other Biomathematics MA program in Illinois, and the few existing programs in the nation typically do not exhibit the strong and balanced emphasis on course work in both disciplines the Biomathematics program will offer.

Click here to go to the Biomathematics web site.

The Mind Project Learning and Research Center

3D rendered human head
      The Mind Project's Virtual Cyd
Testing a Mind Project experiment.

“The Mind Project Learning and Research Center” builds on the existing strengths of ISU’s Mind Project and is “positioned to become not only the Internet destination for state-of-the-art research and curriculum materials, but a digital public square where innovation abounds.” The project will, for example, facilitate student-faculty collaborations, sponsor national and international teleconferences, offer entire sequences of distance education courses, publish electronic books and articles, and debate research and public policy issues. It draws on faculty from 9 CAS departments and from CeMaST, the College of Education, and CAS-IT, as well as faculty from off campus: from Anthropology, Jim Stanlaw; from Biological Sciences, Paul Garris; from CAS-IT, Neal Lawson, Sarah Walczynski, and Owen Williams; from CeMaST, Karen Lind; from Chemistry, William Hunter; from English, K. Aaron Smith; from Foreign Languages, Lorie Heggie; from Mathematics, Jeff Barrett and Shailesh Tipnis; from the Milner Library, Morag Boyd and Rick Satchwell; from Philosophy, David Anderson, Chris Horvath, Kenton Machina, and Todd Stewart; from Physics, Dan Holland and Hiroshi Matsuoka; from Psychology, Cooper Cutting, Valeri Farmer-Dougan, Byron Heidenriech, J. Scott Jordan, Dawn McBride and Jeff Wagman; from the College of Education, Barbara Meyer; as well as teams from the Central Illinois Neuroscience Foundation (CINF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the MIT Press.

Click here to learn more about the Mind Project.

Nanotechnology Education and Research

A microchip the size of a pupil is held with tweezers.Nanotechnology Education and Research is an innovative integration of an academic program, a research agenda, technology transfer to industry, public outreach, and national and international collaboration among researchers. In addition to research and public education on nanotechnology, the project will work to develop an interdisciplinary graduate program and partnerships with industry leaders such as those at Caterpillar. It is headed by an interdisciplinary team of faculty from 4 CAS departments, as well as from CeMaST and CAS-IT: from Biological Sciences, Paul Garris and Dave Williams; from CeMaST, Karen Lind and Bob Turner; from Chemistry, John Baur, Greg Ferrence, Craig McLauchlan, and Lisa Szczepura; from the College of Applied Science & Technology, Anu Gokhale; from Mathematics, Fuxia Cheng; from Physics, Ross Bogue, David Marx, Sheng-Fen Ren, Epa Rosa, and Carl Wenning; as well as national and international collaborations with Argonne National Lab, Los Alamos National Lab, and universities such as MIT and UC-Berkeley.

Click here to go to the Nanotechnology web site.

Energy Science

 The Mind Project's Virtual Cyd

The Program of Excellence in Energy Science will develop interdisciplinary graduate programs and conduct research on topics such as the development of biofuels; the ecological, economic, and geographic impact of the development of alternative energy sources and technologies; fundamental chemistry and physics of new fuel technologies; and the geological study of coal deposits, oil reservoirs, saline reservoirs, and hydrogeology in relation to energy conversion and carbon sequestration. The team is led by John Sedbrook of Biological Sciences and also includes Roger Anderson, Angelo Capparella, and William Perry of Biological Sciences; Cliff Dykstra, John Baur, and James Webb, Chemistry; Dagmar Budikova, Skip Nelson, Dave Malone, Johanna Hass, Amy Bloom, and Heather Conley, Geography-Geology; Shang-Fen Ren, David Marx, Brian Clark, and Dan Holland, Physics; Rajeev Goel and David Loomis, Economics; Gary Bachman, Tom Bierma, Guang Jin, David Kennell, Bryon Wiegand, and Randy Winter, College of Applied Science and Technology. In addition, the team will collaborate with scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offices in Peoria and Albany, CA, and will do educational outreach to specific industries as well as to the general public.

Photodynamic Enhancement of Pharmacological Activities

The Program of Excellence in Photodynamic Enhancement of Pharmacological Activities of Drugs will utilize existing talent and infrastructure to conduct research and education in the field of photodynamic therapy, defined as the treatment of disease by the action of light. Specifically, light energy can be used to activate or enhance the effectiveness of chemical compounds used to treat a wide variety of diseases, including several forms of cancer. This team will initially focus on the treatment of Leishmaniasis, a tropical disease caused by a blood parasite that affects about 12 million people around the world. Photodynamic treatment of diseases related to disorderly neuron activity will also be explored. The interdisciplinary research team will develop new compounds, test their effectiveness, study their mechanisms, and develop treatment delivery systems. Led by David Cedeño of Chemistry, the POE team includes John Bauer, Marge Jones, Tim Lash, and Steve Peters of Chemistry; Kevin Edwards and Laura Vogel of Biological Sciences; and Ricardo Vallejo of the Millennium Pain Center and BroMenn Hospital.

4 panels depicting a drug destroying diseased tissue.
*/Photo: Warren Gretz, NREL-obtained at/ renewable_energy/gasifier.jpg