University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Top University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Discoveries:
John Bardeen et al. formulated a theoretical explanation of superconductivity, earning the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physics. This was Bardeen’s second shared Nobel Prize; his first was for the 1947 discovery of the transistor effect.
In the 40s isolated a Streptomyces, a soil bacterium. This bacterium produced an antibiotic compound that was developed into Chloramphenicol, which helped save countless lives as one of the most important antibiotics of the “golden age of antibiotics.”
Mosaic, the first popular graphical browser for the World Wide Web, was created by Marc L. Andreessen and Eric J. Bina at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Upon its 1993 release to the public, Mosaic gave Internet users easy access to multimedia sources of information. Web browsers have transformed the exchange of information.
Herbert S. Gutowsky showed that nuclear magnetic resonance could be used to establish molecular structure and to measure rates of chemical and biological reactions and motion in solids. As a result of his work beginning in 1948, nuclear magnetic resonance became a standard tool in chemistry, molecular biology, and medical imaging.
Combining the administrative and computer experience of Louis N. Ridenour, the mathematical ability of Abraham H. Taub, and the electrical engineering background of Ralph E. Meagher, in 1952 the Digital Computer Laboratory developed ILLIAC I. The first digital computer built and owned entirely by an educational institution, it weighed five tons and contained 2,800 vacuum tubes. The ILLIAC series continued with ILLIAC II, a transistorized computer, and culminated in the mid-1960s with the ILLIAC IV supercomputer, the largest and fastest in the world
In 1961, Don L. Bitzer, co-inventor of the plasma display panel, and Chalmers W. Sherwin introduced PLATO, the first computer-based education system, the first time-shared education system, and the home of the first on-line community. By the early 1970s, PLATO included early forms of electronic mail, newsgroups, and computer games and provided hardware and software innovations for the computer industry. By the late 1980s, PLATO offered instruction on approximately 100 subjects to students around the world.
The first public demonstration of sound recorded simultaneously with pictures on film took place at the Urbana campus on June 9, 1922. Joseph T. Tykociner’s double-feature motion picture included ringing a bell and reading the Gettysburg Address. The invention was not patented. The first commercial talking film in 1927 used a phonograph, and Tykociner’s invention was only later recognized. It is still used for sound on film.
Joseph M. Hunt was a pioneer in the study of child development. He provided experimental evidence for the powerful and lasting effects of early experience on the development of intelligence and personality. Hunt helped to convince the Kennedy and Johnson administrations to develop and extend the national Head Start program for preschool children.
In 1944, Thomas K. Cureton became the director of the Physical Fitness Research Laboratory, one of the first of its kind in the nation. He developed methods to test motor and cardiovascular fitness and aquatic performance and to appraise the human physique. Cureton played a major role in the development of the fitness movement in America.
Under the administrations of Phineas L. Windsor (1909-1940) and Robert B. Downs (1943-1971), the Library grew from fewer than a million volumes to nearly five million volumes and became one of the world’s great libraries. Windsor aggressively built the holdings to meet the scholarly needs of leading departments and researchers. Downs added significant special collections of interest to scholars around the world while also achieving an international reputation for his extensive studies of library resources.
From the 1930s through the 1980s, Norman D. Levine conducted research on protozoa and other parasitic organisms that cause disease and can be transmitted from animals to humans. His work resulted in advances in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of parasitic diseases, including malaria and toxoplasmosis.
In the late 1950s, Samuel A. Kirk established the Institute for Research on Exceptional Children, the first multidisciplinary research unit of its kind in the world. Kirk’s research and his development of the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities led to the concept of “learning disabilities” and to new techniques of remedial education.
In 1949, Wilbur Schramm organized a conference of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters, which laid the philosophical basis for public broadcasting in the United States. From that beginning, grew both National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
From 1895 to 1904, Arthur W. Palmer analyzed thousands of Illinois water samples in the newly established Illinois State Water Survey. He created the first systematic documentation of the quality of Illinois water. These data became the basis for sanitary and public health reform, standards of water quality, and the science of aquatic ecology.
Paul Rolland was the first to use science-based research to consider the role of movement in the acquisition of stringed-instrument performance technique. His movement-centered approach has had world-wide influence in the teaching of children to play stringed instruments.
“James G. Randall raised the study of the Civil War and Reconstruction era to a new level and changed the direction of Lincoln biography through research, analysis of primary sources, and rigorous scholarly standards. His multi-volume Lincoln the President (1945) established Randall as the “”dean”” of Lincoln studies in his time.
Lejaren A. Hiller and Leonard M. Isaacson created the first substantial computer-produced musical composition. The premiere of the “Illiac Suite” for string quartet on August 9, 1956 at the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois changed how people thought about music and its relationship to science.
During the 1950s and 1960s, two faculty members pioneered approaches to the study of anthropology. Through life histories collected from individuals, Oscar Lewis introduced the notion of “the culture of poverty” as a way of life that endures over generations within families and communities. Challenging the views of his day, Julian Steward demonstrated that cultures develop according to several recognizable patterns, and not merely along a single trajectory as previous scholars had thought.
Theodore B. Peterson, with Fred Siebert and Wilbur Schramm, wrote Four Theories of the Press (1956), a book that applied classical philosophical principles to understanding the role of the press in modern societies. Peterson introduced students to the historical and philosophical meanings of freedom of the press. His work helped transform how journalism and media ethics are studied.
Nathan C. Ricker, the first person to graduate in architecture in the United States, established an architectural program here at his alma mater in 1873. Ricker emphasized the application of science and technology to design. He strove to create an indigenous American architecture, and his students were recognized as among the best in their field. He was largely responsible for the first Illinois licensing law for architects.
In 1932, Harold R. Wanless introduced the term cyclothem to describe the succession of sedimentary rock layers found in coal-bearing formations. The understanding of cyclothems remains an indispensable tool for predicting the location of coal deposits and for defining the processes by which sea levels change.
Allen S. Weller led the Urbana campus to a period of great artistic growth and innovation from 1954 to 1971. His imagination and efforts were the force behind experimentation in the visual arts, dance, and music, and the development of Krannert Art Museum, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and the Festival of Contemporary
Shao L. Soo’s research at Illinois from 1959 to 1992 helped clarify the intricacies in the physics and equations of motion governing multiphase flows, in particular the electric effects in gas/solid particle flows. Soo’s work allowed scientists to predict the motions of fluids composed of multiple phases, which had a significant impact on energy conversion, combustion processes, and particle transport systems.
Today’s swine industry was fundamentally changed by the animal nutrition research of D. Eugene Becker. In the 1950s, he demonstrated that it was possible to ensure swine growth with a simple combination of corn, soybean meal, vitamins and minerals. This discovery of a diet formulated with out animal protein created a feeding regimen that was rapidly adopted worldwide, benefiting both consumers and producers.
In 1953, John R. Laughnan discovered that kernels of a mutant corn that were “unusually sweet.” Within eight years, Laughnan had developed the “Illini Supersweet” hybrid that revolutionized the sweet corn industry. Supersweet, now a dominant variety internationally, is higher in protein and lower in calories than conventional sweet corn.
In the early 20th century, Clarence W. Alvord gathered sources for Illinois history, directed the Illinois Historical Survey, edited the Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, wrote histories of colonial Illinois and the Mississippi Valley, and for years edited the Mississippi Valley Historical Review. He planned the six-volume Centennial History of Illinois and wrote one of the volumes himself.