Vignettes of Publicly Engaged Researchers at Illinois

In 2023, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign published the Public Engagement Research Option (PERO) for Promotion and Tenure. The PERO guidelines reflect a sustained, multiyear effort which involved a tremendous amount of thought, collaboration, and effort from faculty and staff. Although PERO is new to the university, publicly engaged research is not new. Since the inception of the University of Illinois, our faculty have been conducting publicly engaged research, and below you will find vignettes of our esteemed faculty who conduct publicly engaged research. These faculty showcase the diverse disciplines across our campus who, although different, all conduct important research in partnership with the community.

Each vignette is aligned with the PERO guidelines. Specifically, for each faculty member, you will learn the way in which they address a societal problem to contribute to the public good; produce traditional and non-traditional outputs; collaborate with communities or organizations; engage in a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources with community partners; and perceive their societal impact. At the end of each vignette, you will find resources about the faculty member so you can learn more about their scholarship. Because PERO is new, none of the featured faculty in the vignettes pursued PERO. Yet, we are confident that they provide exemplary examples of publicly engaged research in alignment with the PERO guidelines.

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You Want to Leave a Legacy Where You Have Had an Impact

Policy: Climate Change | Atmospheric Science | Policy

Donald Wuebbles, Professor, Atmospheric Science

Wuebbles pushes the state of science. Overall, he has been interested in issues that impact the planet and the people on our planet.

Read More About Donald Wuebbles

If You Want to Get Something Done, You Have to Engage with your Community

Music: Jazz | Music | Community

Barrington Coleman, Professor, Vocal Jazz Studies

Colemon demonstrates his commitment to public engagement by creating and offering events to the larger community in partnership with community members, university members and guests.

Read More About Barrington Coleman

Feeding the Public Conversation

Agriculture: Legislation | Agriculture | Climate Change

Jonathon Coppess, Associate Professor, Agricultural and Consumer Economics

Coppess studies agriculture policy and has served in several policy positions at the national level, now serving as the director of the Gardner Agriculture Policy Program.

Read More About Jonathon Coppess

Always Working with Communities

Education: Libraries | Underserved Communities | Multiculturalism

Clara M. Chu, Director and Mortenson Distinguished Professor, Mortenson Center for International Library Programs

Chu’s research focuses on providing access to information in underserved communities and co-designing the projects with members of those communities.

Read More About Clara M. Chu

Think Big, Act Bold, and Help Others

Data: Data Science | Risk Analysis | Societal Problems

Sheldon H. Jacobson, Professor, Computer Science

Jacobson’s expertise in data science and risk-based analysis naturally lends itself to examining societal problems. While he does not specifically look for topics with public impact, much of his work has been very impactful.

Read More About Sheldon H. Jacobson

Working to Ensure Research Is Engaged with the Public

Agriculture: Farming | Soil | Ecosystem

Andrew Margenot, Associate Professor, Crop Sciences

Margenot evaluates how human activities can enhance or compromise soil services to human societies, with an emphasis on food security from urban and rural agroecosystems across the globe.

Read More About Andrew Margenot