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Integrative Biology

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Professors Alison Bell and Alex Harmon-Threatt recognized for leadership and research

Four professors in the College of LAS have been named Richard and Margaret Romano Professorial Scholars for their leadership and research.

Richard Romano (BS, ’54, chemical engineering) and his wife, Margaret, established the program, which provides faculty members with $25,000 per year for their work. This year’s scholars include Alex Harmon-Threatt and Alison Bell.

Alison Bell, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior

Allison Bell’s research focuses on the nature and variance of humans through studying the behavioral variation of stickleback fish, a species whose social behavior, parental care, aggression, learning, and cognition resembles human beings.

She recently took lead of the Gene Networks in Neural & Developmental Plasticity research theme at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, where she collaborates with an interdisciplinary team of faculty to apply genomic technologies and computational analytical approaches to collected data. The award will be implemented towards enabling Bell’s lab to pursue new projects that are not funded by existing grants, explore new directions, and take more risks, she said.

“It is a great honor to be given this kind of recognition by my colleagues and peers who I respect very much,” she said. “And it's such a generous donation on the part of the Romano family to make this position available to faculty.”

Alexandra Harmon-Threatt, Department of Entomology

As one of this year’s Richard and Margaret Romano Professorial Scholars, Alexandra Harmon-Threatt said that she is thankful to have been selected as a scholar and that the importance of ecology and conservation research is understood.

A pollination ecologist, Harmon-Threatt said she will dedicate some of the funds to a high-risk, high-reward project that she has been working on for several years, but is difficult to fund. She said she also hopes to fund some underrepresented students in the lab.

“It is nice to have the importance of that work validated,” she said. “On a more personal level, I am one of very few Black women in the sciences at Illinois and I hope it shows that diversity of perspectives is welcome and valued amongst both our students and faculty.”

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Publication Date: 11/24/2020
Editor: Kimberly Belser, Samantha Boyle, and Kimberly Wilson