Gary Kelly Staff Excellence Award

The Department of Physics established the Gary Kelly Staff Excellence Award in 2019 to recognize staff members for outstanding job performance and dedication to the department. Civil-service and academic-professional staff members who have served a minimum of two years in their current role are eligible to be nominated for this award; nominations may be made by any Illinois Physics faculty or staff member. This award is made possible by a generous gift from Illinois Physics alumnus and donor Gary Kelly (MS, 1974).

Nominations can be emailed to Jennifer Jorstad.



Steven Bullwinkel, for his competent, efficient, and enthusiastic support of the Condensed Matter Experiment faculty and students.  His tireless efforts in assisting the faculty in their various unique requests, and his endless positivity in working with all personnel of the department. 

Cheryl Sabas, for her outstanding effort to complete tasks with little to no direction and quickly troubleshooting purchasing problems in a timely manner. She works diligently to solve the entire department’s purchasing needs that arise and has become the purchasing expert in the department. Her work has a great bearing on everyone in the department, and we cannot imagine the negative impact if we didn’t have her.


Sharlene Denos "for her tireless work involving outreach programs with CPLC K-12 programs and improving the educational experiences and career outcomes of students and researchers. She has also been an integral member of the department Diversity Committee. She is always willing to 'go the extra mile' and is a pleasure to work with."

Eric Thorsland "for his instrumental work and organization during the pandemic on behalf of the sPHENIX project, his efforts in improving the production and recovery of helium, and more recently his invaluable role in the MRL Machine Shop operation.  His work ethic, initiative, and drive has made all of these areas a success."


Janice Benner "for her outstanding work as the Office Administrator of the Institute for Condensed Matter Theory by assisting faculty, students, postdocs and visitors, and organizing seminars and workshops.  Her work ethic, positive attitude, and initiative has made ICMT a great success."

Denise Donnelly "for her abiding commitment to excellence in the Department of Physics, for her dedication to taking care of everyone who crosses her threshold with a question or problem, and for her positive attitude and collaborative spirit."

Kelly Sturdyvin "for his innovative and tireless service in providing liquid helium at affordable cost for the world-class research carried out in the Departments of Physics and Chemistry, in the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, and in the Nuclear Physics Laboratories."


Margie Gamel “for demonstrating the highest level of dedication to the Department of Physics and contributing steadfastly behind the scenes to its successes through her diligence, service-mindedness, and high standards of performance, and for exhibiting thoughtfulness, selflessness, and positive morale even in the busiest of times, contributing to a positive departmental climate.”

Rebecca Wiltfong “for developing and supporting innovative instructional solutions that impact thousands of students every semester, and for doing this with a joy and spirit that helps make the Department of Physics such a wonderful place to work.”

Wendy Wimmer “for her many tireless and patient efforts on behalf of physics graduate students, faculty, and staff, which have set the highest standards of dedicated professionalism and caring service to the physics community.”