Newswise — The institute’s research efforts will include community engagement to unite local needs and voices with science and technology development.

The George Crabtree Institute for Discovery and Sustainability, a new hub for scientific innovation and education, launched on April 17 in Chicago. The collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is dedicated to leveraging the combined research and career-development strengths of these leading institutions. Through pioneering science and engineering, the institute is committed to enhancing global well-being and sustainability.

The institute is named after George Crabtree, a senior scientist and distinguished fellow at Argonne and a distinguished professor of physics and electrical and mechanical engineering at UIC. From 2012 to 2023, he was director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, a leading consortium that convened research partners from government, industry and academia, including UIC and Argonne.

Crabtree’s far-reaching, ambitious and multidisciplinary leadership informs the institute, which will harness the combined strengths of UIC and Argonne. In early 2022, Crabtree said his award-winning work was ​“not so much about one energy innovation; it’s about putting together many innovations to transform the energy system.” This idea inspired the mission of the new institute, which will work toward a better world by innovating at the frontiers of energy generation and storage, artificial intelligence, urban development and other sciences.

“George was a revered and beloved scientist and educator, so it’s fitting that a partnership like this between Argonne and UIC would carry on his legacy,” Argonne Laboratory Director Paul Kearns said. ​“I look forward to the impact this institute will make on multiple important fronts.”

The institute is committed to excellence in cutting-edge research, educational enrichment, sustainability, impact and diversity, equity and inclusion. It will be agile in response to emerging needs while developing the next-generation science and technology workforce.

“The Crabtree Institute will create potent new opportunities for collaboration and education between Argonne and UIC,” said UIC Chancellor Marie Lynn Miranda. ​“It will expand access for our faculty and students to resources and programs at the cutting edge of research and discovery, advancing our mission to improve the world, serve our community and provide transformative education.” 

Among the institute’s programs, a collaborative research fellowship for Argonne and UIC staff will promote partnerships in strategic research areas. The institute will also support research training for UIC undergraduate and graduate students, as well as for postdoctoral fellows at Argonne and UIC. Students from groups underrepresented in science and technology careers will be especially encouraged to participate in these programs.

“I’m honored to build upon George’s work at UIC and Argonne, helping forge a partnership that will advance Chicagoland’s scientific innovation for a sustainable future,” said Michael Papka, founding co-director of the George Crabtree Institute. Papka is a senior scientist and deputy associate laboratory director at Argonne and director of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), as well as professor of computer science at UIC. The ALCF is a DOE Office of Science user facility.

Research efforts will include community-engaged projects that unite local needs and voices with science and technology development. The institute will leverage the Argonne in Chicago initiative, which extends the lab’s capabilities and resources to under-resourced communities.

“We want to create more research collaborations that have a Chicago flavor, that work with and help our community,” said Jordi Cabana, founding co-director of the Crabtree Institute. Cabana is a professor of chemistry at UIC and a group leader in the Materials Science division at Argonne. ​“These programs can also provide students from disadvantaged backgrounds with new opportunities. We can amplify the cutting-edge research at UIC and Argonne, while plugging these students into STEM career pipelines early.” 

University of Illinois Chicago
Located in the heart of one of the world’s great cities, the University of Illinois Chicago is the city’s largest university and only public research institution. Its 16 academic colleges serve nearly 34,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UIC is recognized as one of the most ethnically rich and culturally diverse campuses in the nation, a leader in providing access to underrepresented students. With one of the largest colleges of medicine in the nation, and colleges of dentistry, pharmacy, public health, nursing, social work, and applied health sciences, UIC is the state’s principal educator of health professionals and its academic health center is a major health care provider to underserved communities. UIC students become professionals in fields ranging from law and business to engineering to education, liberal arts and sciences, urban planning, law and social work, as well as architecture, design and the arts. UIC is an integral part of the educational, technological, and cultural fabric of one of the world’s greatest cities.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.