U of I Engineering Prof Among ‘Genius’ Grant Winners


The list of 21 recipients of ‘genius’ grants from the MacArthur Foundation includes U of I Environmental Engineer Tami Bond, who looks at the effects of black carbon emissions on human health.

The Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor and other MacArthur Fellows each receive $625-thousand over a five-year period.

MacArthur says Bond has working to unravel the global effects of black carbon emissions on climate and human health, and to comprehensively understand how energy interfaces with the atmosphere.  

According the Foundation, black carbon, or soot, is created essentially any time something is burned - from diesel engines and agricultural burning to home heating and cooking - and varies considerably by source.  Yet traditionally, large-scale global climate models have worked with rough estimations and little fidelity at the source level.

The 50 year old professor came to the U of I in 2003.  Prior to that, she was a visiting scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. 

Bond said the grant will give her the freedom to research climate issues that go beyond her work in the college of engineering.

"There’s so much understanding of what people do, how people choose things, how people respond to information... that I think needs to be brought into this field in order to understand how people, in general, can make choices and choose a lower emissions future," she said.

Black carbon, or soot, comes from combustion – including diesel engines, agricultural burning and home heating and cooking. 

Bond said that while the pollutant washes out of the atmosphere in about a week, it has a significant effect on climate change. She also says reducing black carbon is one way to relatively quickly cut down on atmospheric heating.

Her career also includes post-doctoral research at the NOAA-Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratories.  Her degrees including a doctorate from the University of Washington.  Prior honors include a National Science Foundation Career Grant. 

The other grant recipients (including two others based in Illinois) are listed below:

---- Danielle Bassett, 32, Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania physicist who
applies mathematical approaches to analysis and modeling of brain connectivity.
---  Alison Bechdel, 54, Bolton, Vermont. Cartoonist and graphic memoirist whose
narratives explore family relationships.
---- Mary Bonauto, 53, Boston. Civil rights lawyer, director of the Gay & Lesbian
Advocates & Defenders and a leader in the marriage equality movement.
---- Steve Coleman, 57, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Jazz composer and saxophonist
who is being recognized for creating a "distinctive new sound.''
---- Sarah Deer, 41, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Professor at William Mitchell College
of Law and advocate for Native American women at risk of domestic abuse and
sexual violence.
 ---- Jennifer L. Eberhardt, 49, Stanford, California. Stanford University social
psychologist investigating how racial bias and stereotypes affect law
enforcement and criminal sentencing.
 ---- Craig Gentry, 41, Yorktown Heights, New York. Computer scientist at the IBM
Thomas J. Watson Research Center whose work has led to the possibility of more
secure cloud computing.
 ---- Terrance Hayes, 42, Pittsburgh. Professor of writing at the University of
Pittsburgh and poet whose work has focused on race, gender and family.
 ---- John Henneberger, 59, Austin, Texas. Co-director of the Texas Low Income
Housing Service who has worked to expand affordable housing and make sure all
communities have equal access to federal relief funds after natural disasters.
---- Mark Hersam, 39, Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern University materials
scientists investigating physical, chemical and biological properties of
---- Samuel D. Hunter, 33, New York, New York. Playwright whose work confronts
what the foundation calls the "socially isolating'' aspects of contemporary
American life.
----  Pamela O. Long, 71, Washington, D.C. Historian of science and technology who has researched scholarship and craftsmanship in Renaissance societies.
 ---- Rick Lowe, 53, Houston. Public artist who worked to revitalize a long-neglected Houston neighborhood.
 ---- Jacob Lurie, 36, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard University mathematician who created a new conceptual foundation for derived algebraic geometry.
 ----- Khaled Mattawa, 50, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Poet and translator of contemporary Arab poetry at the University of Michigan, where he is an associated professor in the Department of English Language and Literature.
 ---- Joshua Oppenheimer, 39, Copenhagen, Denmark. Documentary filmmaker who has covered topics such as state-sponsored violence.
---- Ai-jen Poo, 40, New York, New York. Labor organizer who has pushed to improve working conditions for domestic or private-household workers.
 ---- Jonathan Rapping, 48, Atlanta. Criminal lawyer who founded program to help public defenders provide quality legal representation to the indigent.
 ---- Tara Zahra, 38, Chicago. Professor at University of Chicago whose research and analysis about twentieth-century Europe helped create a "transnational understanding of events,'' according to the foundation.
 ---- Yitang Zhang, 59, Durham, New Hampshire. University of New Hampshire mathematician who is being recognized for a landmark achievement in analytic number theory.

Story source: WILL