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Spotlight on Scholars

Spotlight on Scholars is a quarterly feature created to acknowledge the many talented individuals in our international student and scholar community. Our international population plays a significant role in research and development, as well as culturally enhancing our institution.

Tejabhiram Yadavalli

Department: Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Home Country: India
Home Town: Hyderabad

Dr. Tejabhiram Yadavalli is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Ocular Virology Lab, which is within the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences in the College of Medicine. Originally from Hyderabad, India, Dr. Yadavalli heard of UIC from his wife, who is a UIC graduate. He was drawn to Chicago to be in proximity to world-class institutions, like UIC, as well as the infrastructure, public transit system, and Lake Michigan.

Dr. Yadavalli’s research centers on understanding the cell and molecular biology of herpes simplex viruses. Ocular herpes infections are the number one cause of infectious blindness in the U.S. He works in the field of discovery, development, and delivery of antiviral drugs by testing potential chemicals for their antiviral properties in cells and lab mice. So far, 3 potential novel therapeutics against Herpes viruses have been found. Dr. Yadavalli’s research involving adding charcoal to the drugs to increase their efficacy has been published in several journals, such as Science Advances, and was also picked up by several websites, including ScienceDaily, and NewAtlas. This cost-effective, carbon-based drug delivery system can provide relief for a longer time with fewer doses.

Dr. Yadavalli hopes to become a Research Assistant Professor and eventually a tenure-track Professor after his postdoctoral studies, as he comes from a long line of academics. He enjoys UIC’s focus on research and the sophisticated equipment that is only available through UIC’s Research Resources Center.

While in the U.S., Dr. Yadavalli has marveled at our “accessibility culture” and how the physically challenged can access most places without relying on external assistance. Going to the Museum of Science and Industry reminds him how far humanity has come in scientific advancements; he particularly enjoys the railroad exhibit. Dr. Yadavalli recommends hitting the tourist spots in Chicago, like Navy Pier, boat tours, Willis Tower, or Lincoln Park Zoo (visit the tigers in the summer and penguins in the winter!), but also to try a sensory deprivation chamber. They are located throughout the city and allow you to meditate or relax while having all physical senses removed.

During his search for Chicago’s best biriyani, a famous rice dish from India, Dr. Yadavalli found his favorite so far at Siri on Taylor Street. His favorite Mexican restaurant is Jarabe, also on Taylor Street; he recommends their chilaquilles. Dr. Yadavalli also enjoys biking and walking around Chicago. He tries to cover the entire lakefront trail on his bike and hopes to complete an Olympic triathlon in the next couple of years! During the cold winter months in Chicago, Dr. Yadavalli records audio books in Telugu (his native language) to share with his family and friends.


Previous Spotlights

Sathya Subramanian

Department: Disability and Human Development 
Home country: India
Home Province: Chennai

Sathya Subramanian graduated with a MS from UIC’s Bioengineering program and currently works as an Assistive Technology Specialist in the Department of Disability and Human Development. He heard about UIC from his brother who is an alumnus of UIC. He is originally from the city of Chennai, formerly known as Madras, TamilNadu in India.

The Assistive Technology Unit, which is part of the Department of Disability and Human development in the College of Applied Health Sciences, serves people in the community in their homes, work places or schools to provide services to clients with disabilities. In his position as an Assistive Technology Specialist at UIC, Sathya assesses and evaluates on a need-basis, people’s access and independence in using computers and technology. He works with a team of Rehabilitation Engineers, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists and Architects to conduct research regarding customizable solutions and built-in accessibility options for technology such as computers, smartphones, and tablets. For example, 3-D printing is one adaptation that is currently being developed. Sathya would like to become a certified Assistive Technology Professional to further hone his skills.

Sathya likes UIC’s urban setting as it gives a great balance between being in a university and a bustling city. The access to the city for work and leisure is a definite plus unlike a typical university town. He has learned that indulging in meaningful conversations with people he does not know is a “big yes” in American culture. He has also noticed a keenness in learning about different cultures from around the world.

He misses his family and friends back home but has a few favorite things in Chicago. His favorite restaurant is Couscous on Taylor street for great food and their awesome chef who inspires him; his favorite location is the observation deck at the John Hancock; and his favorite museum is the Art Institute of Chicago. He would recommend taking a friend on a long walk along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and to the observatory at the John Hancock tower. Outside of Chicago, he likes going on hikes in Northern Michigan for the breathtaking views.




Guiping Zhang


Department: Chemistry 
Home country: China
Home Province: Hunan

Guiping Zhang is a Research Scholar from Hunan Province in China. He began his time at UIC in March 2016 with the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy in the College of Pharmacy. Dr. Zhang was drawn to UIC due to the reputation of the College of Pharmacy and his previous supervisor, Professor Emeritus, Alan P Kozikowski. Several of Dr. Zhang’s professors in China had also previously worked with Professor Kozikowski. Due to Professor Kozikowski leaving UIC to work in a start-up company, Dr. Zhang decided to change departments in January 2018, and is now affiliated with Professor Duncan Wardrop, in the Department of Chemistry.

Dr. Zhang’s research involves developing safe and efficient drugs to potentially treat obesity and central nervous system disorders, such as schizophrenia and drug addiction. The drug design focuses on experimenting with subtype-selective and functionally selective 5-HT2c receptor agonists, which produce a biological reaction in the body. The hope is the drugs will be more efficient and produce fewer side effects, specifically lethal cardiac vulvopathy, where the heart valve becomes inflamed and stiff.

His research team has several patents pending, which will then be leased to the pharmaceutical industry. Along with his team members, Dr. Zhang won second place for the Innovate@UIC Innovation Prize at the College of Pharmacy’s 2017 Research Days. He has also presented his work at the 55th Annual MIKI (Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas, and Illinois) Medicinal Chemistry Meeting and at the 254th American Chemical Society National Meeting. Once he completes his program at UIC, Dr. Zhang hopes to return to his career as an entrepreneur in the pharmaceutical industry in China.

Dr. Zhang misses his family, including his wife, children and parents, who are all back home in China. He also misses the river around his childhood village where he would often see fish jumping. Dr. Zhang is enjoying the varied cuisine of Chicago and would recommend visitors to Chicago take advantage of the many restaurants. His favorites are restaurants in Chinatown, specifically Spicy Spirit, and also Thai, Mexican, and Italian restaurants on Taylor Street near UIC’s campus. However, nothing is quite like his mother’s cooking! His favorite thing about UIC is working with colleagues from many disciplines, such as biology, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK), pharmacology, and more. Outside of his research, Dr. Zhang likes using the gym to keep up his good health and also to meet new friends from other UIC departments.


Department: Disability and Human Development
Home country: The Netherlands
Home Town: Oss

Lieke is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Disability and Human Development. She is originally from Oss, The Netherlands. Her research at UIC focuses on the aging of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is interdisciplinary, drawing from the fields of critical social gerontology, Disability Studies and intellectual and developmental disabilities. She bridges aging and disability theories and methods to further our understanding of aging with disability. She promotes a vision of aging that recognizes both “ablebodiedness” and disability as valid parts of the aging experience. Lieke’s research methodology is guided by the disability rights’ philosophy: “Nothing about us, without us.” By designing accessible research materials and methods she enables people with disabilities to fully participate in the research process, allowing her to retrieve their perspectives on their lives and needs.

Lieke learned about UIC when she was completing her Master’s in Psychology in the Netherlands. She was interested in the aging of people with intellectual disabilities and knew of Dr. Tamar Heller’s work in the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Developmental Disabilities and Health within UIC’s College of Applied Health Sciences.  She was excited to come to Chicago to learn about the research done at the Center and to participate in it. This is her first time in the U.S.

Lieke most misses her family, but also the wonderful Dutch food and biking through the Dutch country side. When her friends come to town, she likes to take them on the Architectural River Tour to see Chicago from a different perspective. She has enjoyed spending time at the lake and the lakefront trail and she also loves the Dutch Indonesian Restaurant ‘de Quay’. She enjoys playing music and is the flugelhorn player with the Chicago Brass Band (an international award-winning 30-piece brass and percussion ensemble). They promote the British brass band tradition, but with Chicago flair. She also enjoys traveling the U.S. with her husband who is a pilot. Lieke enjoys all the community engagement work her department does, as well as the diversity on the UIC campus. She hopes to secure a faculty position after the completion of her postdoc position


Department: Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy
Home country: Nigeria
Home Town: Lagos

Bamisaye is a Research Scholar in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy in the College of Pharmacy. He is originally from Lagos, Nigeria’s most populated city and commercial center. His research involves isolating the medicinally active compounds in a Nigerian medicinal plant in the hopes to chemically synthesize these compounds. This plant is used to treat coughs, toothaches, fevers (including malaria), venereal diseases, high blood pressure, and intestinal parasites. The powdered form of the plant can also be applied to wounds and sores. The aim of the research is to isolate the compounds responsible for the treatments which could lead to new antibiotics, antiulcer, and antihypertensive medications. Other cures or treatments may also be found through additional testing. The research at UIC will be used to complete his PhD at the University of Lagos.

Bamisaye first heard of UIC from his supervisor back home and from a colleague who came to UIC previously. The modern equipment and environment at UIC, including the abundance of quality mentors, faculty members, and researchers, are what Bamisaye enjoys most about researching at UIC. He plans to finish his PhD and hopes to become a professor one day.

Bamisaye misses his family the most – his wife, 3 brilliant sons, and his mother. He gets a taste of home through cooking and has found Nigerian products and ingredients here in Chicago. He is learning many things about American culture including punctuality, time management, and our often direct approach to things. As he arrived in early fall of 2016, he has not yet explored Chicago as much as he hopes to once the weather is better. Bamisaye plans to visit Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, and the Field Museum of Natural History. Outside of research, Bamisaye enjoys reading, watching football (soccer), listening to news about everything from politics to sports, and meeting new people and making friends.



Department: Neurology & Rehabilitation
Home country: France
Home Town: Clermont-Ferrand

Fabien Dachet is a Research Specialist in the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation at the Illinois Neuropsychiatric Institute. Prior to coming to UIC, he was a postdoc at Wayne State University at the College of Medicine, in the Department of Neurology. Before coming to the U.S., Fabien received his Ph.D in Microbiology from Laval University in Quebec City, Canada.

Fabien is from Clermont-Ferrand, France. What he misses most about Clermont-Ferrand is the relaxing way of life, the food, and the arts. Clermont-Ferrand is in central France, west of Lyon. It is also one of France’s oldest cities. It is home to the Puy-de-Dôme, a volcano that is part of the Chaines des Dômes. It is also home to the sculpture Vercingetorix, by Frédéric Bartholdi. Bartholdi was also responsible for creating the Statue of Liberty.

Fabien is passionate about his research. He states his favorite thing about his work at UIC is, “exploring the electric activity of the human brain and actively developing a new type of genetic medications targeting the real causes of epilepsy.” He then goes on to add, “By comparison, to the surgery used nowadays to cure patients, these new medications have the potential to lead to a cure for epilepsy with a less invasive outcome for patients.”

Outside of work, he enjoys different styles of music. Some of the groups he is currently listening to are: The Plain White T’s, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Daft Punk, as well as many more. During the spring he likes to garden. In the summer he appreciates road trips on his motorcycle. His favorite food is cheese and a glass of wine and his favorite dish to cook is crepes. He also proclaims that he makes the best crepes in Chicago! If one is looking for a great place to eat, Fabien’s favorite restaurant in town is Cyrano’s Farm Kitchen, located on North Wells Street, in the River North neighborhood. He highly recommends this restaurant because of Chef Didier. He says, he is an extremely talented cook that brings French culinary art to its best. He also says, the Chef delivers “authentic French farm food.”

Fabien also finds time for other activities such as reading, and outdoor sports. His favorite sports are volleyball and soccer. His favorite book is Nature’s Destiny, by Michael Denton. Fabien says the author was able to put “science through a global point of view by doing a scientifically accurate unification of the fields of philosophy, physics and genetics, by doing this, Michael Denton’s success to give sense and reason to the whole picture of science, life and religion where no one before him managed.”

If you’re new to Chicago, he highly recommends visiting all of Chicago’s different art museums. He also encourages biking along the lake front.




Department: Microbiology and Immunology

Home country: Egypt

Amira Farouk Ahmed Hussein, is currently a Visiting Research Scholar in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago. One of Amira’s favorite things with her research at UIC is working with experts in her field of virology. Virology is the study of virus’ and virus classification.

Amira is originally from Cairo, the capital of Egypt. There she worked at Kasr Al Aini Hospital and at Cairo University as an Assistant Lecturer in Clinical Pathology. What Amira misses most about home are her family and friends. And what an amazing family, she is the fourth child from a family of five, and they are all doctors!

Egypt is also home to the Suez Canal, the Valley of the Kings, and the Pyramid of Giza, as well as many other wonders. It is also has access to major water resources such as the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Nile River. The Nile River is the longest river in the world and moves through 11 different countries in the continent of Africa.

Outside of work, in Chicago or Cairo, Amira enjoys going for walks, and she finds it as an excellent way to get exercise. Her favorite type of music is classical, and she also plays the piano. It is one of her beloved hobbies. Her favorite kind of food is fried or grilled chicken.

Due to the winter weather and her busy research schedule, Amira has only been able to visit few places, Michigan Avenue and Water Tower Place. She highly recommends visiting them both to check out the shopping and the iconic buildings. When the weather gets better she looks forward to visiting the lake front this spring to enjoy the beautiful views.



Department: Computer Science

Home country: Vietnam

Home town: Hue

Dr. Phu H. Phung is currently working in the Department of Computer Science as a Visiting Research Associate. One of his favorite things about the research he does at UIC is working and collaborating with well-known researchers in the field.

Phu is the oldest in his family and has a younger sister and brother. His family is originally from Hue, Vietnam. Hue was the old imperial capital of Vietnam before 1945. It is located in central Vietnam on the Perfume River. What Phu misses most about home is the food. His favorite dishes to cook are Bun Bo Hue, a style of noodle specifically to Hue and dumpling dish called Banh Bot Loc.

Prior to coming to the University of Illinois at Chicago though, he was at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, which is also where Phu did is Ph.D in Computer Science. Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden and is on the west coast on the North Sea. Outside of work, Phu loves to sing and play guitar, and he prefers pop music. His favorite sport to play is Badminton, however since he has been here he hasn’t had the opportunity to play. His favorite book is Anger: The Wisdom for Cooling the Flames, by Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known Zen Master. Anger is a Buddhist philosophical text on dealing with one’s anger and Phu has read it several times as well as listened to the audio version.

When visiting Chicago, Phu recommends visiting his favorite going to the Magnificent Mile, Michigan Avenue, for shopping and dining. He also suggests visiting Navy Pier, the Sears Tower, and Chicago’s lake front.


Department: Criminology, Law and Justice

Home country: Australia

Home town: Brisbane

Kathryn Wenham is a Ph.D student studying Public Health from Griffith University in Australia. She is currently here at the University of Illinois at Chicago as a student intern conducting research for her dissertation in the Department of Criminology, Law and Justice.

The focus of her research is a comparative analysis on health, wellbeing, education, and cultural constructions of gender interaction in the African immigrant community in Brisbane, Australia and Chicago. Her research looks at changes in food and diet, socioeconomics, education, gender and gender roles. Initially when she started it was by making a correlation between traditional diet and long term health versus adapting to a Western diet. Gender is looked at and how relationships are affected during the process of adapting to a new culture and environment. Kathryn was drawn to this because it is fascinating to her and there has not been a lot of research done on this topic.

Kathryn’s home town is Brisbane, Australia. Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland, and is the third largest city in Australia. Brisbane is a city that has many immigrants which influences many of the cuisines there. Kathryn’s favorite foods derive from Mediterranean and Thai cooking. However when cooking, her favorite dish to make is a dessert called “Pavlova.” Pavlova is a meringue based dessert topped with fresh fruit and cream. There is a friendly argument between Australians and New Zealanders though as to where the origins of Pavlova have come from, Australia or New Zealand?

What Kathryn misses most about home are her friends and summer activities. For example, she misses going to the beach, picnics in the park, and African and Brazilian dancing. Kathryn has been doing both types of dance for 10 years. Her favorite style though is “Samba de Gafieira,” a Brazilian form of dance that she performed with her dance school in Rio De Janiero at a dance congress there. Kathryn recommends any form dance to meet new people and one does not even need to speak the same language.

Kathryn’s favorite film is based on the book by Yann Martel, Life of Pi. It is a story about a boy and a tiger that are dependent on each other for survival while stranded on the ocean on a small boat after their ship has sank. What Kathryn found most appealing about the film besides imagery was how dissociation can be used in surviving trauma. For books, she prefers biographies about ordinary people who survive extraordinary difficulties and circumstances. Kathryn, not putting fiction completely aside though, recommends, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson. It is a story about growing up in the Midwest during the 1950s. The story and the characters made her laugh out loud.

For local activities in Chicago, Kathryn recommends visiting her favorite, the Field Museum. She is a self-proclaimed geek regarding all things related to anthropology. She loves the cultural display at the Field Museum, specifically the African exhibit. Other Chicago activities and places Kathryn suggests are taking the Chicago Architectural Boat Tour, visiting The Old Town School of Folk Music, for a show or a class in music or dance. It recently featured Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and an Australian favorite, singer and songwriter Paul Kelly. She also recommends doing some shopping, visit the summer festivals, and explore different neighborhoods like Hyde Park


Louise Flensted-Jensen Rønberg

Louise Flensted-Jensen Ronberg

Department: Curriculum and Instruction

Home country: Denmark

Home town: Skovlunde, suburb of the capital city Copenhagen

Ms. Louise Flensted-Jensen Rønberg, is currently working as a student intern and doing research for her dissertation in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education.  Louise’s dissertation titled ”Components of Children’s Reading Comprehension,” is part of her Ph.D. studies a the University of Aarhus.  Her research focuses on learning new techniques with an emphasis on learning to read, reading comprehension and vocabulary.

By being a parent of three children attending public schools in the Chicagoland area, Louise will also gain further insight of the education system of the United States through her own children’s perspectives that will inform her research. This experience allows her to compare the differences in the teaching styles and methods used in the United States and Denmark.

When it’s time to relax, Louise enjoys a wide range range of music from Classical, to Jazz, Rock and Blues.  Her favorites include Eric Clapton,  Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and the Beatles, to Scandinavian artists such as Swedish jazzists Lisa Nilsson and Real Group.  For culinary treats, Louise also enjoys a wide array of cuisines, two of her favorites are Italian and Thai.   When she has leisure time for reading, she  looks to both fiction and non-fiction genres, including books by author John Irving.  Among her favorites is Immaculee Ilibagiza’s,  ”Left to Tell,” a autobiographical tale of survival during the Rwandan genocide.  For inspiration for life and learning, she looks to the Bible, which she refers to as ”the big book.”

Louise’s entire family shares her love for learning, travel, and the arts.  In addition to her family with her here in Chicago, she keeps in close touch with her siblings back home and their wonderful accomplishments.  Her brother is a pianist and her sister is currently working on her master’s thesis in film and media studies.

Since coming to Chicago, Louise has found time to visit the John Hancock Restaurant and Observatory on the 95th floor, one of the most recommended sites in the city.  The skyscraper’s views are impressive and do not disappoint.   Never forgetting her civic responsibilities back home, Louise voted in a recent election at the Danish Consulate.

As Louise is getting acclimated to life in Chicago she finds she misses the Danish bakeries from home, particularly the Danish rye bread, but she found that IKEA sells a comparable Swedish Rye Bread mix that she is able to use for the time being.  Avid animal enthusiasts (Louise’s nickname is Misser, which means ”cat” in Danish), she and her family miss their Australian Parrot, a Blue Budgeriagar.  As a temporary replacement for the beautiful bird is a Lego lizard that the family purchased from the Lego store in Schaumburg to keep them company while Louise completes her dissertation research.


Shweta Chaudhary

Shweta Chaudhary

Department: Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Home country: India
Home town: Mumbai

Dr. Shweta Chaudhary has been a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences since December 2009. She describes her research in Lead Corneal Neovascularization in which she studies the cornea in mice eyes as “innovating, and cutting edge.” Prior to her work at UIC, she worked at an eye hospital and research center in Chennai, India, and as a Fellow in Cambridge, England, at the International Council of Ophthalmology. She completed her studies, including a specialization in Ophthalmology, in Mumbai and Chennai, India.

Although she is very happy in Chicago, she misses her family and friends back home, as well as the flavorful local food, and riding her motorbike. One of Shweta’s favorite dishes to cook and is stuffed eggplant curry. She also enjoys Thai cuisine. The best gift that Shweta has ever received is her one year old nephew. She says that he is the cutest.

When she is not working, Shweta is also an artist, and enjoys painting. After she is done with a piece, she likes to give her artwork to her friends. Her favorite book is “Not Without My Daughter,” by Betty Mahmoody. The book describes a broad range of emotions of the female protagonists. Shweta describes the book as, “A mother’s struggle to free herself and more importantly, her daughter from her oppressive and conservative father.” Of the book, Shweta says “All in all it is a heartwarming, inspirational, and eye opening book.”

On the lighter side of things, Shweta has plenty of ideas for anyone new to Chicago. A self described “veggie fan,” she enjoys going to the Celtic Knot for their excellent Veggie Burgers, great ambience and live music. During Chicago’s warmer seasons, Shweta recommends taking the Chicago Architectural Tour. After the tour, one should walk from Navy Pier to North Beach along the lake front. This is a great way to enjoy the Chicago skyline. Other great things to do during any time of year she recommends are driving along Lake Shore Drive from Hyde Park, to Wilmette. On the way, one can visit the Adler Planetarium, Foster beach, Pratt Beach, Northwestern University in Evanston, and the Bahai Temple in Wilmette.


Koushik Banerjee

Koushik Banerjee

Department: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Major: Electrical Engineering (Solid-State Devices)
Home country: India
Home town: Kolkata

Koushik Banerjee is a PhD student in Electrical Engineering with a focus on solid-state devices. Solid state devices are a contrast to older devices such as hard drives found in your computer. Koushik explains, “In my research, I get a chance to deal with all aspects of solid-state devices, starting from (the) design of the device to its fabrication, characterization and data analysis. That gives me an all-around experience and expertise”. Koushik’s next project may end up in your laptop!

Although he is a master with electronics, Koushik admits he cannot cook but that does not stop him from enjoying a variety of cuisines. Some of his favorite cuisines are Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Middle-Eastern, Ethiopian, and Italian just to name a few. With Koushik’s never-ending list of favorite foods, he feels that Chicago is the right place to be to try out all the different cuisines.

In his spare time, Koushik enjoys exploring the Museum Campus located on the lakefront. The Museum Campus includes the Field Museum of Natural History, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium. Koushik recommends everyone to visit the Museum Campus because it gives a splendid view of the Chicago skyline. Koushik says, “You immediately realize that you are in a great city. At the same time, you can experience the lake, the vast waterbody stretching up to the horizon. It is relaxing.”

One of his favorite books is a Bengali classic called “Chander Pahar” (Mountain of Moon) by Bibhutibhusan Bandyopadhyay. In the adventure novel, Shankar, a young man that recently graduated from college goes to Africa in pursuit of a hidden treasure. In Koushik’s words, “The adventure in the book is extraordinary and I can so easily relate to the main character in the story.” For UIC’s international students coming to the U.S. in search of education (and hidden treasure), they can definitely relate to Shankar’s journey except that they will have to survive pop quizzes and papers rather than poisonous snakes and man-eating lions.

Koushik’s Awards and Recognitions:

  • Received Provost’s Award, Fall 2010, for outstanding graduate research work at UIC
  • Received the Chancellor’s Student Service Award 2009-10 for accomplishments in a leadership role within student organizations at UIC
  • Received the Chicago Consular Corps Scholarship 2007-08 for Excellency in research and academic standing; Awarded to ten graduate/undergraduate students at UIC
  • Ranked 20th in the state of West Bengal, India in the Higher Secondary Examination, 2001 among approx 0.2million students

Dr. Leslie Deane

Job title: Assistant Professor of Urology
Home country: Barbados
Home town: Bridgetown

Dr. Leslie “Les” Deane joined UIC’s Department of Urology in August 2007. His favorite part of his research at UIC is “it is new, exciting and innovative.” Prior to his arrival to the UIC community, he was an Assistant Professor of Urology at the University of California Irvine, and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Department of Urology at Long Beach Veterans Affairs Hospital. He has also co-authored many peer reviewed publications, and has done many video presentations.

Even though Les puts in a lot of hours in the Urology department, he is still able to enjoy the city of Chicago. The lake front is a favorite spot for him to relax and enjoy the scenery. His favorite Chicago restaurant is “Japonais,” for the atmosphere and Asian fusion cuisine. This does not take away from his favorite food though, a traditional Barbados dish of flying fish and macaroni pie. Macaroni pie is similar to Mac’ and Cheese and is baked. Macaroni and Cheese also happens to be Dr. Deane’s favorite food to cook at home. When he is not cooking Macaroni and Cheese, he enjoys tennis, Hip Hop/Reggae/Caribbean rhythms and watching thorough bred horse racing. His favorite movie is “The Rock.”

For those who are visiting Chicago, he recommends that you visit in the summer for a number of art and street festivals that take place. In the morning you should visit the Lake Shore walking and bike path. Visit the Signature Room at the 95th floor of the John Hancock building for brunch or go to Cafe Orange for breakfast. For dinner try one of Chicago’s eateries or relax on a rooftop lounge to see the Chicago Skyline. Also recommended are Gino’s East or Giordano’s for Chicago deep dish pizza, or have a polish dog at Maxwell Street. These are all a part of the Chicago experience.



Zhichun Zhu

Zhichun Zhu

Dept: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Job title: Assistant Professor
Home country: China
Home town: Zhuzhou, Hunan

Since completing her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the College of William and Mary, Zhichun has worked in the Department of Electrical Engineering at UIC as an Assistant Professor, specializing and publishing many articles in the field of Computer Science. Her favorite part of her research is searching for solutions to intellectually challenging questions.

Personally, although her favorite thing to do in Chicago is visiting the lakefront and finding a great place to relax, she does miss her family, friends, and food back home. For a little taste of home, she prepares her favorite dish, “Pork Rib Soup” and listens to Chinese folk music. If a friend were to visit Chicago, she would recommend that they pay a visit to Navy Pier. When Zhichun is not working on the next generation of computers, she knits as a hobby and takes care of her pet fish.

To find out more about the work and research Zhichun is doing and see a list of her selected publications. You may also have seen Dr. Zhu featured in the March 17, 2010 Edition of UICNews.

Pork Rib Soup


Interested in Being Spotlighted?

If you are interested in being featured in this series, contact OIS at Please provide your current CV and write a brief description of why you would like to be selected for Spotlight on Scholars.