Jain receives Distinguished Promotion Award, Alumni Scholar position


With special recognition, faculty member Prashant Jain has been promoted to full professor, effective in August, and has been named to the Alumni Scholar position within the Department of Chemistry.

Jain is among 11 faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who were recognized with the Provost’s Campus Distinguished Promotion Award for 2020, a special recognition in the annual promotion review process. The Campus Committee on Promotion and Tenure recognizes a select number of promoted scholars whose contributions have been extraordinary in terms of scope, quality and impact of their research, teaching, service and engagement.

Jain, who is also a professor in the Materials Research Lab and the Beckman Institute and an affiliate faculty member in physics, said he is elated to receive these honors.

 “They are truly in recognition of the creativity and efforts of my group at using materials to control light and harvest energy from it,” said Jain, whose lab is best known for using nanoscale-confined light for artificial photosynthesis and for probing the hidden workings of complex materials and catalysts, leading to discoveries of new solid-state phases and plasmon resonances in a range of semi-conductor nanostructures.

He said recent work has shown how light excitations can be used as reaction equivalents for important redox processes such as those involved in carbon and nitrogen fixation, and researchers have used visible light to tailor the responses of noble metal catalysts and elicit new behavior from them.

In addition to his research accomplishments, Jain teaches graduate and undergraduate physical chemistry for which he has previously been awarded the School of Chemical Sciences Faculty Teaching Award.

Jain’s position as the next Alumni Scholar Professor will also be effective in August. This named position was created with support from alumni and donors of the department to recognize a faculty member for continued research excellence and leadership. The position includes an annual stipend to support research and scholarship.

“With the support of these awards, I hope to continue to ask important questions that are driven by sheer curiosity,” he said. “I also hope to be able to share this curiosity and sense of wonder with students, both in my laboratory and in the physical chemistry courses I teach. I am thankful to the many members of my group, current and former, for their many contributions to these efforts, and to my supportive colleagues and the alumni and donors who have helped our chemistry program to be exceptional.”

Jain received his B.Tech. from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai and his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Georgia Tech. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard and a Miller Fellow at the University of California Berkeley before coming to the University of Illinois faculty.

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