Landick Receives 2024 Hilldale Award

Biochemistry professor Robert Landick has received the 2024 Hilldale Award in the Biological Sciences.

Photo of Bob Landick

Each year, the faculty divisions honor four University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty members with the Hilldale Award in recognition of their contributions to teaching, research, and service. Faculty representing each of 4 areas — arts and humanities, biological sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences — are selected from nominations submitted by department chairs. This year’s winners were awarded $7,500 and were recognized at the April 1 Faculty Senate meeting.

“It means to world to me that my colleagues in the Department of Biochemistry thought to nominate me for this award,” says Landick. “In truth, though, it’s the students, trainees, and colleagues in my research group who really deserve the credit for what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

Landick’s work focuses on the biochemical processes behind the form and function of DNA and RNA His landmark discoveries in molecular biology have provided insight into the role of the enzyme RNA polymerase and the mechanisms that enable transcription of DNA and synthesis of proteins. His observations have laid the groundwork for the field of single-molecule biochemistry. Landick’s research has illuminated connections between biochemistry and genomics, revealed potential treatments of diseases, and led to methods for engineering biofuels and bioproducts from renewable resources. He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Landick has worked tirelessly to improve training for students on campus. His teaching and mentoring of both undergraduate and graduate students emphasizes developing crucial grant-writing and communication skills. As a founding director of the Microbiology Doctoral Training Program, he has led campus and national efforts to diversify doctoral trainees. Guided by Landick’s individualized approach to mentorship undergraduates in his lab have earned authorship of papers — sometimes even first authorship — as well as admittance to top graduate programs.

Landick played a pivotal role in launching the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, which has become a keystone national research center working to enable sustainable energy independence. He was also instrumental in establishing UW–Madison as an instrumental center for cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM), a technique which allows scientists to gain structural information on biological systems from imaging through the use of high-speed electrons.

“Landick has made a continuing stream of seminal research contributions that place him among the most elite faculty on campus,” says Brian Fox, chair of the Department of Biochemistry. “His exceptional vision and leadership have strengthened our campus immeasurably. We view Landick’s service as a treasured asset of the University and the State of Wisconsin.”

Read the original press release here.