Young Alumni Award (Est. 2020)

The Young Alumni Award is bestowed upon alumni by the University of Illinois Alumni Association on behalf of the University of Illinois. This award recognizes alumni who are under the age of 35, and who have emerged as early leaders in their respective professional or civic endeavors. These individuals have demonstrated leadership and innovation and have proven themselves to be exceptional ambassadors for the University’s recent graduate and young alumni communities.

2020 Recipient

  • Markita Landry, PHD ’12 LAS

    Markita Landry, PHD ’12 LAS, is an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. She received undergraduate degrees in chemistry and physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and she completed a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institution of Technology.

    Dr. Landry’s research centers on the development of synthetic nanoparticle-polymer conjugates to deliver genetic materials for plant biology applications, utilizing nanomaterials’ highly tunable chemical and physical properties to create bio-mimetic structures, molecular imaging and plant gene editing. She serves as an investigator for UC–Berkeley’s Innovative Genomics Institute, whose president, Jennifer Doudna, recently won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat) gene-editing tools. When the pandemic struck, the Landry Lab swiftly modified its research to develop a nanosensor to detect the protein responsible for COVID-19.

    Dr. Landry is a recipient of 18 early career awards, including citations from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, She also has received the Young Faculty Award from DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), and she is a Sloan Research Fellow and FEAR (Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research) New Innovator. The Landry Lab received funding from Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg to serve as Biohub Investigators.