Elizabeth Ainsworth and Phillip Newmark have been named as University Scholars, a program created to recognize the university’s most talented teachers, scholars and researchers.
Begun in 1985, the scholars program recognizes faculty excellence on the three U. of I campuses and provides $10,000 to each scholar for each of three years to use to enhance his or her academic career. The money may be used for travel, equipment, research assistants, books or other purposes.
Elizabeth Ainsworth, a professor of plant biology and an affiliate of the Genomic Ecology of Global Change theme, works at the interface of basic and translational plant biology. She has investigated the current and potential impacts of global and environmental change on natural and managed plant ecosystems. Published in 2005, her analysis of 120 published studies on free air carbon dioxide enrichment was the most highly cited paper that year in the journal New Phytologist. Her analysis has been cited more than 500 times. She is studying the genetic basis for tolerance to the normally damaging effects of ozone pollution on soybean yield.
Phillip Newmark, a professor of cell and developmental biology and an affiliate of the Regenerative Biology & Tissue Engineering theme, recognized that his discipline’s next frontier would be in the biology of tissue and organ regeneration. He now is recognized as one of the foremost proponents of reviving the use of planaria as a new model organism ideally suited for molecular and genetic analysis of regeneration. Today, a growing number of scientists use the planarian system in their research. He has applied his planarian system to several key problems in regeneration biology, including stem-cell differentiation, and germ-cell specification and differentiation. An increasing number of scientists now are using the planarian system in their work, attesting to the impact of Newmark’s work.