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Jonathan Sweedler

Jonathan Sweedler

James R. Eiszner Family Endowed Chair in Chemistry | Director, UI School of Chemical Sciences

The most influential analytical scientist on Planet Earth does some of his best thinking on his daily commute to work in Urbana.

“I enjoy walking from my home to campus,” Jonathan Sweedler says. “My walk takes me though Illini Grove and the new Red Oak Rain Garden; I have enjoyed watching the improvements to the rain garden.

“The walk is a great way to plan my day without interruptions.”

July marked Sweedler’s 30-year anniversary on the UI campus. October brought an equally memorable milestone — two times in three years being ranked No. 1 on the global Power 100 compiled by The Analytical Scientist, a publication that focuses on the people, technology and innovations shaping measurement science.

The James R. Eiszner Family Endowed Chair in Chemistry and director of the School of Chemical Sciences, Sweedler took us on a guided, virtual tour of some of his most memorable places and spaces on and around the UI campus.

The one spot that feels most like home

I met my wife at UC Davis. We both grew up in California. Davis is the land-grant school of the UC system and in many ways is similar to UIUC.

Some of our first dates were walking around the UC Davis Arboretum. Now, we walk around the UIUC Arboretum and Japan House — 40 years later.

The one structure that should never be messed with, no matter how old it gets

I will answer this a little differently. The most important structures need to be updated and renovated periodically to keep them the special places that they are.

Campus did a fantastic job renovating Lincoln Hall and will soon be renovating Altgeld Hall. Without such upkeep, our special places will not stay special.

The first place I’d take a campus newcomer I wanted to impress

The Beckman Institute. On a nice day, I walk up through the Quad past ‘Beckhendge’ — the multi-piece Upwells sculpture by Stephen Luecking — approaching the Beckman Institute from the south.

When you enter from this direction, you end up in the rotunda with the display of important Arnold Beckman instruments, including the Beckman DU Spectrophotometer and the Beckman pH meter.

As I am an analytical chemist, I consider the chemical measurement instruments displayed in the rotunda especially interesting and relevant.

I also like to highlight the great collaborative spaces inside the building. I have had research space at the BI since I arrived more than 30 years ago and the collaborations fostered by the BI have been a key to my research success.

Where I interviewed for my job here

During my second interview at UIUC, the chemistry faculty invited my wife and I to a dinner at a faculty’s house.

The warm and friendly interactions of the faculty helped convince my wife and I to move here.

The place I can’t wait to see more of once COVID is officially kicked

I have missed attending events at the Krannert.

Favorite place to grab a bite to eat

After saying I like to walk around campus, now I report that I like the eating places closest to my Roger Adams office, near the corner of Goodwin and Oregon.

These include Espresso Royale, Timpone’s, the Red Herring, Manolo’s Pizza and the Bread Company. What a great mix of places — from the eclectic, great coffee to fine dining.

I recently estimated how many times I have had a Cappuccino Royale from Espresso Royale during my career and it was a lot more than a thousand.