Illinois chancellor and chemist elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Chancellor Robert J. Jones and chemistry professor Catherine J. Murphy were inducted as members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in October ceremony.

Written by Jodi Heckel

Chancellor Jones at AAASOn October 12, 2019, Chancellor Robert J. Jones and chemistry professor Catherine J. Murphy were inducted as members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest honorary societies in the nation.

They are among more than 200 individuals with compelling achievements in academia, business, government and public affairs to be elected to the academy this year.

Jones became the chancellor of the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus and a vice president of the University of Illinois System in 2016, after serving as president of the University at Albany, State University of New York since 2013. He served in several academic administrative roles at the University of Minnesota System from 2004 to 2013, including as the senior vice president for academic administration.

Jones has been a leader in developing new approaches to place-based engagement strategies to create university and community partnerships that build more sustainable and more collaborative social and economic development on the local and regional scale.

Jones is an internationally respected authority on plant physiology, and he holds a tenured position in the crop sciences department at Illinois. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Fort Valley State College, a master’s degree in crop physiology from the University of Georgia and a doctorate in crop physiology from the University of Missouri, Columbia. He is a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America.

Murphy is the Larry Faulkner Endowed Chair in Chemistry at Illinois. Her research focuses on developing diverse nanomaterials for applications in biology and biotechnology for imaging cells, chemical sensing and photothermal therapy. She also studies the environmental impact of nanoparticles and how their chemical properties influence their behavior. She is the associate director of the Materials Research Laboratory and is affiliated with the Micro and Nano Technology Laboratory and with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois.

Murphy received two bachelor’s degrees, in chemistry and in biochemistry, from the U. of I. in 1986, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1990. She joined the faculty in the chemistry department at Illinois in 2009. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1780 to honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good. The work of the honorees is now focused on the arts, democracy, education, global affairs and science.

“While the work of this class includes work never imagined in 1780 – such as cultural studies, cybersecurity, disease ecology, nanotechnology, paleoclimatology and superconductivity – these members embody the founders’ vision of cultivating knowledge that advances, in their words, a ‘free, virtuous and independent people,’” said Nancy C. Andrews, the board chairwoman of the academy.



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