Tunji Toogun at a poster presentation.
Tunji Toogun

Named in honor of Tunji Toogun, a PhD student in the Department of Cell & Developmental Biology who passed away in 2007, this award recognizes CDB graduate students for their outstanding research accomplishments. Born in Nigeria, Toogun received his BS from the University of Illinois in 2001 and a posthumous PhD in 2007. Remembered as a bright and kind student, Toogun had boundless enthusiasm for research and learning. Friends, classmates, and faculty established the fund to honor his memory.

Visit our Giving Page to make a gift in his name.

Award Recipients

Hailun Zhu (Xin Li Lab)


Qinyu Hao (KV Prasanth Lab)


John Li (William Brieher Lab)
Yo-Chuen Li (S. Prasanth Lab)


Phil Kenny (Stephanie Ceman Lab)


Mahdieh Jadaliha (KV Prasanth Lab)


Harini Iyer (Phillip Newmark Lab)


Keaton Schuster (Rachel Smith-Bolton Lab)


Sumanprava Giri (Supriya Prasanth Lab)


Frank Echtenkamp (Brian Freeman Lab)
Nimish Khanna (Andrew Belmont Lab)

Remembering Tunji

"Tunji Toogun was an excellent scientist, friend, and person. I could not have asked for a better first graduate student. He is dearly missed."

-- Professor Brian Freeman

"Tunji was such an amazing individual and there is hardly a day that goes by that I do not briefly think of him and smile."

-- Diane (DeZwaan) McCabe, PhD

"I knew Tunji when he was still an undergraduate, when I was his TA for Developmental Biology (then CSB 301). He constantly worked to improve himself, always asked excellent questions and often challenged me to be a smarter teacher. His energy and ethic were an inspiration to us all."

-- Adam D. Wolfe, MD, PhD

"I TA'd a class for incoming graduate students while I was a slightly more senior graduate student.  Tunji was a student in that class. My only impressions of him were that he was everything an instructor could want in a student.  He was friendly (always), engaged, bright, enthusiastic and worked hard. I had only positive experiences and memories of Tunji.  His loss was tragic on so many levels. If this Memorial Fund provides support of future students with even a part of the promise, dedication and personable, enthusiastic amiability Tunji displayed so naturally, it will be a fitting tribute."

-- Scott Siechen, PhD