Jill Wildonger has been named the first recipient of the Jean V. Thomas Professorship, a newly established endowed professorship in the Department of Biochemistry. The professorship recognizes Wildonger’s contributions as a researcher, her excellence as an educator, and her contributions to the governance of the university.
The professorship was established by Jean V. Thomas, whose interest in the field grew from the gift of a chemistry set received while in grade school in Evanston, IL. Being told that chemistry was not a field of study for women fueled her ambitions. Thomas earned a BS in 1949 from the University of Wisconsin and graduated Magna cum Laude. She went on to co-found a biochemical company, where she rose to serve as an executive and marketing director in the field. Her career spanned over 40 years, and she was honored with several recognitions of her success as a leader in science and business.
"I am very honored to be the first recipient of the Jean V. Thomas professorship,” said Wildonger. “Thomas was a trailblazer and leader, and her example inspires me to continue her legacy of scientific achievement and mentoring the next generation of scientists."
Wildonger joined the department in January 2012 to research the molecular basis of neuronal function. During her time in the department she has developed a powerful platform for addressing important issues in neuronal cell biology using cutting-edge technologies. Her studies focus on the trafficking of molecules and organelles within neurons and other cells. Deficits in transport within neurons are frequently associated with a number of neurological diseases, including movement disorders and Alzheimer's disease.
The professorship was awarded for a 5-year term, beginning July 2020.