Research Strengths

At UIC, renowned researchers lead programs that affect the way we live

Broad-ranging research initiatives at the University of Illinois at Chicago encourage a level of collaboration within and across disciplines. These powerful partnerships lead to new worlds in computer science, sustainability, bioengineering, health sciences, psychology and education.

Urban education

UIC College Prep student

Urban school systems face unique challenges, often with limited funding. Education researchers at UIC focus on making Chicago schools more effective while designing national models for training urban educators.

Urban Education Leadership is a doctoral program that produces principals who transform urban schools. Principals and assistant principals are recruited into this program, where they reach their full potential with coaching by UIC faculty who are former principals.

The Center for Literacy works with schools, governments and nonprofits to improve literacy education. Staff and volunteers serve adults who want to earn a GED or learn English, children in Head Start programs, parents and teachers of autistic children and many others.

The Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education researches issues that affect urban schools and their students. It publishes often-cited reports on topics like elected vs. appointed school boards, school closings and the need for bilingual communications.

The Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as links UIC with three southwestern universities to research math education and brings together experts in education, math, languages and culture to collaboratively work to improve the math skills of low-income Latino students.

The Research on Urban Education Policy Initiative publishes papers on school issues affecting Illinois children. The analyses and recommendations are designed for lawmakers, parents and others who need unbiased information based on current research.

 

Urban planning and public affairs

Janet L. Smith outside the Abla-Robert Brooks Homes

The College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs conducts research to empower citizens of Chicago and cities around the world. Five of its research centers address specific aspects of urban life. Two centers devise surveys and data visualization tools to aid UIC researchers.

The Great Cities Institute offers fellowships for UIC researchers to conduct research that improves the quality of urban life. Most of the centers also host public forums and collaborate on community projects.

The Center for Urban Economic Development explores industries that can create jobs in the three-state Chicago region, and studies the economic effects of industries’ wages and working conditions.

The Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement analyzes neighborhood change, housing costs and the need for specialized housing.

The Urban Transportation Center advises government agencies and corporations involved in public transit, railroads, highways and streets.

The Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy researches the root causes of racial and ethnic injustice in the U.S. and offers policymakers research-based solutions.

The Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement encourages citizens to engage with their governments and leaders.  It offers grants for research on policy issues and social trends.

The Center for Public Safety and Justice (CPSJ) offers programming that will help to improve public polices and government decision-making by providing research and analysis about criminal justice issues.

Computer science

Group inside the EVL looking at chemical molecules

Computer science at UIC is nationally ranked as one of the most innovative in the country and one of the top programs for studying gaming.

The Electronic Visualization Laboratory was established in 1973 as a joint effort of the College of Engineering and School of Art and Design. The Electronic Visualization Lab, or EVL, is the oldest formal collaboration between engineering and art in the United States. The EVL has grown into an internationally renowned interdisciplinary research laboratory as the explosion of big data has created a need for high-performance visualization, virtual reality and advanced networking infrastructure for collaboration.

Data mining at UIC has some of the most cited researchers in the field working to extract meaning from huge data sets in ways that will revolutionize everything from marketing to medicine. Computational biology brings the power of computers to the world of animal conservation.

Computer science faculty engaged in cybersecurity programs are exploring everything from understanding how data is collected and used to finding better ways to protect online purchases on smart phones. A $2 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation supports undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing careers in cybersecurity.

UIC’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory developed and maintains the Illinois Department of Transportation’s real-time traffic map, the Gateway system.

UIC’s computer science faculty include leaders in natural language processing, networked systems, database investigations and computer science theory.

Public health & health policy

Three Ethiopian men sitting in the waiting room of a clinic

UIC researchers take an active part in local, national and international public health and policy conversations, and their contributions have led to changes that are saving lives.

From Project HEAL, which has increased the number of Chicagoans who know their HIV status, to research that has shown that male circumcision does not increase risky sexual behavior, UIC researchers are making a real impact on reducing the unintended spread of HIV in neighborhoods at home and abroad.

By seeing violence as a public health epidemic that spreads like a contagious disease, UIC’s Cure Violence program prevents shootings and killings through mediation and by building relationships with community leaders. The program has been proven effective in interrupting the violence that leads to the tragic loss of life on the world’s most violent streets.

Researchers in UIC’s CDC-funded Illinois Prevention Research Center, housed in the UIC Institute for Health Research and Policy, conduct research that will help guide public health policies and environmental changes aimed at improving nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco avoidance to reduce chronic disease risk — and to diminish disparities among population groups in these health behaviors and outcomes.

Their work will look at how numerous social determinants of health, including access to healthy food, transportation and the availability of places for recreation and exercise impact health.

 

Pharmacy

Joanna Burdette looks through a microscope as Hyun-Young Jeong looks on

A cure for Alzheimer’s disease, easing the pain linked to sickle cell disease, or uncovering new treatments for ovarian and breast cancer may one day occur through research at the College of Pharmacy.

UIC researchers go to great lengths to find new discoveries that impact the world’s health. Scientists comb the depths of the oceans and Great Lakes to collect bacteria that can potentially be used to develop new antibiotic drugs to cure infectious diseases. They search the Asian rainforests to find plants that may contain biologically active molecules that may one day be developed to cure cancer, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Look on the shelf of any health store and you will find a natural product that is being studied at UIC’s Botanical Center. Scientists are testing the safety and value of botanicals — especially those that may help women — focusing on plants that are commonly available as dietary supplements. Hops, licorice, black cohosh and red clover are just some of the natural products studied at UIC.

For more than a decade, the College of Pharmacy has consistently ranked in the top 7 in external research funding, according to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

Sustainability

Ann Schlenker giving a tour to a group at Argonne National Laboratory

As a public research university in the heart of Chicago, UIC is especially aware of its impact on the city and the role it plays in bringing sustainable practices and policies to the campus, the city, the state and the world through example and research.

The Chancellor’s Committee on Sustainability and Energy has recently developed a set of Climate Commitments that will help the university achieve carbon neutrality, become a zero waste and net zero water campus and increase biodiversity on campus grounds.

There are many ways to make sustainability the focus of your studies at UIC. Earth and Environmental Sciences, Civil and Materials Engineering, Urban Planning and Policy and several other departments offer different paths to careers in sustainability.

Courses in nearly every department reflect the broad scope of this issue. At UIC, you are urged to think about how sustainability applies to every aspect of life, whether you study accounting, art, education, geography, physics or public health.

Dentistry

Woman sitting at desk with dentistry imagesd on computer monitors

There’s more to dentistry than cleaning teeth, filling cavities and performing root canals. The College of Dentistry has 16 clinics that treat patients of all ages and trains the most dentists in the state of Illinois.

Oral health researchers conduct groundbreaking studies, from working toward a future of eliminating tooth decay, to studying whether green tea can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in smokers, to performing studies on how proteins can regrow dentin to one day bring a new way to fill cavities.

To prepare a capable and dedicated workforce that addresses the oral health needs of vulnerable and underserved populations, fourth-year dental students are required to participate in service-learning experiences at community-based rotations in partnering clinics. The health centers are located throughout the Chicago area, Illinois, Colorado and internationally, including Guatemala, China and Tanzania.

The college has several specialty facilities, including the Center for Wound Healing and Tissue Regeneration, where a community of scientists and clinicians investigate how the body reacts to injury, as well as mechanisms of repairing and regenerating tissues.

Bioengineering

Richard Magin using an MRI machine

Bioengineering is where biology meets engineering. UIC’s Richard and Loan Hill Department of Bioengineering stands firmly on both pillars, uniquely housed in two colleges, the College of Medicine and the College of Engineering.

One of the first degree-granting bioengineering programs in the nation, the UIC department enrolls over 100 doctoral, 50 master’s of science and 240 undergraduate students. Students in bioengineering have the highest average ACT scores of any program in the College of Engineering.

The department has a tradition of strong programs in biomechanics, biomaterials and biomedical imaging. Bioengineering is moving into the emerging fields of cell and tissue engineering, neural engineering, bioinformatics and biomolecular engineering.

UIC’s bioengineering labs explore the world of nanobiotechnology – the intersection of nanoscience and biology. Investigators are devising advanced nanomaterials for tissue regeneration and other areas of preventive and restorative medicine. Scientists model ways to better understand the blood/brain barrier and deliver drugs to the brain.

Researchers are developing the Audible Human Project to accurately simulate the production, transmission and noninvasive measurement of naturally-occurring sounds in the human body. The goal of this innovative project is to create new inexpensive, portable diagnostic tools to measure cardiovascular and pulmonary activity as well as other bodily functions.