The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology honored three faculty and staff members who show visionary spirit and dedication on the 124th anniversary of founder Arnold Beckman’s birth.

Congratulations to Emad Tajkhorshid, J. Woodland Hastings Endowed Professor of Biochemistry, who won the faculty Vision and Spirit Award! Teppie Peyton and Michael Marana won the inaugural Staff Spirit and Dedication Award. Beckman Interim Director Cathy Murphy announced the winners at an April 10, 2024, ceremony at the institute.

The Vision and Spirit Award honors Beckman Institute Founder Arnold Beckman by recognizing a faculty member who has fostered collaboration in their research and exemplifies his vision. Beckman and his wife, Mabel, gave $40 million to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the 1980s to create the Beckman Institute.

Emad Tajkhorshid, J. Woodland Hastings Endowed Chair in Biochemistry

What does it mean to you to win this award?

It is, of course, a great honor to have the vote of confidence from my esteemed colleagues and be recognized by this award. Being among the top colleagues in our great university who have received this award in prior years is indeed among the greatest feelings one can have. It feels similar to the time I received the University of Illinois Scholar award.

Do you have a plan for using the research funding associated with the award?

The funds will be likely used for strengthening our computational power in Beckman for the variety of projects that the students and postdocs are engaged in. I am thinking of using some of it to augment the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group’s educational activities, especially for the public (for example, the equipment and material needed for the Beckman Institute Open House every year).

What advice would you share for other faculty members who want to become better interdisciplinary collaborators?

One has to be open to the idea of collaboration with the whole heart. It is not just about publishing together. Collaborators need to delve themselves into the collaboration by trying to nearly fully understand what is happening in the collaborating lab and how to connect to it with their own methods and tools. Just leaving the students and postdocs [to] talk to each other does not cut it.