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Illinois Chemist named Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor

July 1, 2014
By: Liz Ahlberg

Illinois Chemist named Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has named Jeffrey S. Moore, the Murchison-Mallory Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois, an HHMI Professor.

This distinction honors respected researchers who also are transforming education within their fields. Beginning in September 2014, Moore will receive a five-year grant from HHMI and will join the 40 other distinguished scientists to have been named HHMI professors since 2002.

According to the institute, “HHMI professors are accomplished research scientists who also are deeply committed to making science more engaging for undergraduates. Their innovative approaches to teaching are infusing undergraduate science with the excitement and rigor of scientific research, and are becoming models for fundamental reform of the way undergraduate science is taught at research universities.”

Moore’s teaching philosophy hinges on student autonomy and curiosity-driven learning in large enrollment courses. He has been instrumental in course design for organic chemistry at the U. of I., using online resources and webcasts rather than traditional lectures or textbooks and Web-based conferencing technology for live, interactive discussion sessions. Emphasis on student participation and problem solving allows students to develop skills, with the instructor in the role of expert and encourager.

“Professor Moore’s visionary innovations as both a researcher and an educator are – without any exaggeration – changing the national conversation about how students should learn and about what constitutes an optimum educational environment,” said Ilesanmi Adesida, the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs of the Urbana campus. “His fundamental belief that great student outcomes aren’t determined by the size of a class, but rather through designing a curriculum that empowers and requires students to take charge of their experience and that requires educators to leave behind some traditional tools. These are ideas we have seen put into successful action in our organic chemistry program here and ones that we believe can be a model for any university. This is a well-deserved recognition for professor Moore.”

See Moore give a TEDx Talk on “College Coaching for Training 21st-Century Minds.”

In his research, Moore integrates ideas from physical organic chemistry and engineering with polymer synthesis to invent mechanically responsive materials. Motivated by the technological need for materials that are safer and last longer, Moore strives to understand and design polymers that produce chemical signals or undergo chemical reactions following mechanical activation – for example, materials that heal themselves, warn of high stress, or repair electrical circuits. Recently, he and frequent collaborators Nancy Sottos and Scott White demonstrated plastics that not only heal after damage, but regenerate, thanks to specialized chemicals pumping through vascular channels within the material, similar to blood in a circulatory system.

Moore earned his doctorate at the U. of I. in 1989 and returned to join the faculty in 1993. He also is a professor of materials science and engineering, a member of the Institute for Genomic Biology, a member of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, and the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory at the U. of I. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Chemical Society. He also has been named a Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar and a Sloan Fellow.


July 1, 2014
By: Liz Ahlberg


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