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Professors Joseph P. Gerdt and Yan Yu receive the 2023 Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award

July 31, 2023

Congratulations to Professors Joseph P. Gerdt and Yan Yu on their recent 2023 Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award. The awards are given each spring to honor outstanding teaching during the prior calendar year and honor faculty who have had a positive impact on student learning, especially undergraduates.

Gerdt grew up in Peoria, Illinois. He earned a B.S. in Chemistry in 2008 from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, where he researched the chemistry and folding of nucleic acids with Scott Silverman. He then moved to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he studied the chemistry of cell-cell signaling in bacteria with Helen Blackwell. After earning his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2014, he joined the laboratory of Jon Clardy at Harvard Medical School. As a Ruth L. Kirschstein NIH-funded postdoctoral fellow in the Clardy lab, he researched interkingdom chemical signaling in choanoflagellates and in Plasmodium falciparum—a parasite that causes malaria.

The Gerdt laboratory studies the molecules that drive interkingdom symbioses.

Yu received her B.S. in Chemistry from Peking University (Beijing, China) in 2004. She pursued her Ph.D. degree in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign from 2004 to 2009 under the direction of Professor Steve Granick. Her research focused on lipid-based biomaterials and their interactions with nanoparticles and proteins. Subsequently, she started her postdoctoral research at the University of California at Berkeley with Professor Jay T. Groves and changed her research direction to biophysics of primary immune cells. She joined the faculty at IU in July 2012.

Research in the Yu laboratory is at the interface of materials, bioanalytical, and physical chemistry. The research vision is to quantify and control cell behavior with novel materials and chemical approaches. Specific research projects in the Yu group include: (1) self-assembly and interactions of lipid membranes; (2) biomaterials-cell interactions: develop biomimetic materials to manipulate cell behavior; and (3) cell-cell interactions: quantify how molecular interactions and dynamics in membranes determine cell functions.

Faculty are nominated for the Trustees Teaching Award by the department policy committee and final selection is made by the College. Honorees receive a monetary award and are honored at a reception in the fall.