Skip to main content

Alumni Association Honors UIC Alumni for Professional Achievement October 11, 2007

Media contact Email
Bill Burton
A nationally recognized evolutionary biologist and a leading pioneer in the laser display industry are the University of Illinois at Chicago's recipients of the university's Alumni Achievement Award for 2007.

The University of Illinois Alumni Association will present the achievement award to Barbara Schaal, vice president of the National Academy of Sciences, and Stephen Heminover, founder and president of Aura Technologies Inc., a leading company in the laser display field, at the Oct. 12 Alumni Five Awards ceremony in Chicago.

Schaal earned her undergraduate degree from UIC and master's and doctoral degrees from Yale University. She has received national acclaim for her research in plant population genetics, evolution, ecology, molecular evolution, and genetic diversity and domestication of crops. In 2005 she became the first woman elected vice president of the prestigious national academy. As vice president, she helps develop policies for the academy and its related institutions, which includes the Institute of Medicine. She is the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Schaal has earned numerous honors, including the Botanical Society of America Merit Award and the Sigma Xi Research Award. She was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1993 and membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 1999.

She serves on the board of trustees of the St. Louis Academy of Sciences and is chairman of the scientific advisory council of the Center for Plant Conservation. She is co-chairman of the National Research Council's Standing Committee on Biotechnology, Food and Fiber Production and the Environment. She serves as associate editor for the American Journal of Botany and is on the editorial boards of Functional Ecology, Molecular Ecology and Conservation Genetics.

Heminover, who earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics and computer science from UIC, founded a company and has been a major contributor to the growth of the laser display industry for more than a decade.

Heminover's interest in laser technology began during high school, when he built his first laser for a science project in 1968. As a UIC student, he honed his software design expertise in UIC's Electronic Visualization Laboratory, an interactive, real-time computer graphics research center. It was there that Heminover wrote the first laser graphics programming language.

Heminover's first turnkey laser system (and one of the first such automated systems in the industry) was designed in 1981 for Chicago's Adler Planetarium. This educational system has been upgraded four times since its installation and is used daily to display scientific and astronomical phenomena.

Heminover's client list includes the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Blackhawks and Carnival Cruise Lines. A founding member of the International Laser Display Association, he served as the first chair of the trade group's Technical Standards Committee.

The Alumni Five Awards ceremony is a dinner and awards presentation honoring UIC alumni and friends who have given back to the university and community. The gala will include presentation of the Alumni Achievement Award, City Partner Award, Corporate Partner Award, Distinguished Service Award and Alumni Humanitarian Award. It will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the consolidation of the university's health sciences campus with the Chicago Circle campus to form the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The evening starts with a reception at 6 p.m., then dinner, awards ceremony and 25th anniversary commemoration at 7 p.m., followed by music and dancing, all in the Illinois Room of the UIC Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted St.