Martha Gillette, director of the Neuroscience Program, Alumni Professor of cell and developmental biology, and Carle Illinois professor, has been named the Beckman Institute’s 2021 winner of the Vision and Spirit Award.

The annual award, which includes $150,000 in research funding, was created to honor Beckman Institute Founder Arnold Beckman by recognizing a faculty member who has fostered collaboration in their research and exemplifies Beckman’s vision. Beckman and his wife, Mabel, gave $40 million to the University of Illinois to create the Beckman Institute.

Beckman Institute Director Jeff Moore announced Gillette as the 2021 winner during a virtual award ceremony April 9. April 10 is the 121st anniversary of Arnold Beckman’s birth.

Gillette said she’s “extremely thrilled,” and that the award also recognizes the members of her research group and her interdisciplinary collaborators at Beckman.

“I met Arnold and Mabel Beckman several times when the ideas that became founding principles for the Beckman Institute were being discussed with Bill Greenough and Ted Brown,” Gillette said, referring to the mid-1980s when the institute was founded. “The decision to foster Arnold’s vision of innovation and cross-disciplinary research was extremely forward-looking. It continues to generate discoveries that could take place only in this environment. For me, being here has opened up exceptional opportunities and new discoveries.”

Gillette has been a Beckman faculty member since the institute opened, and she became a full-time faculty member in 2015. She works closely at Beckman with a long list of faculty collaborators from chemistry; bioengineering; electrical and computer engineering; chemical and biomolecular engineering; evolution, ecology, and behavior; and molecular and integrative physiology. She is also a member of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine Internal Research Advisory Board.

Moore recognized her enthusiasm for learning and growing, despite the challenges that come with interdisciplinary research.

Editor’s note: The original version of this article by the Beckman Institute can be found here.