Rohit Bhargava and Maddie Darling receive 2020 Outstanding Advising Awards


Kimberly Besler

Engineering Council recognized Professor Rohit Bhargava and Assistant Director of Undergraduate Programs Maddie Darling for their contributions to student success with 2020 Outstanding Advising Awards, an annual honor based on student nominations.

Arjun Reddigari, sophomore in Bioengineering and awards director for Engineering Council said Bhargava was chosen for the award because of his availability to speak with students, the passion he puts towards students' work and research, and his willingness to provide full support.

“Professor Bhargava finds time to pursue his research while ensuring the growth of his students. As one student noted, 'On numerous occasions, he has stayed until late evenings to ensure that any technical or lab issues are addressed,'” Reddigari said.

Bhargava, who is a Founder Professor in Bioengineering, director of the Cancer Center at Illinois and a Bliss Faculty Scholar, conducts research centered around chemical imaging, spectroscopy and changing the current process of cancer diagnosis.

Bhargava said he tries to be a good mentor every day and although he has no “illusions” of being a great or good one, he thinks the primary attribute of serving as a mentor involves keeping the interest of the students front and center and doing what it takes to make students successful.

“That does not necessarily mean being nice to them all the time, but it does mean being supportive and trying to find the best path for them to be successful as things go on,” he said.

Reddigari said Darling received the award for her compassion for students’ wellbeing.

“As the main coordinator for Bioengineering Ambassadors, Darling makes an effort to make the freshmen feel at home within the department,” he said. “Additionally, Darling is the department liaison for the undergraduate advisory board, so she listens to any departmental concerns and attempts to fix them. One student mentioned how " time at Illinois would not have been as productive and positive...without Maddie".

Darling joined The Grainger College of Engineering staff in 2016. In the past, she served as an assistant director in Engineering Career Services and as Bioengineering's undergraduate program coordinator.

Nominations for the 2020 Outstanding Advising Awards are available for 25 of the highest-ranked advisors from all departments of The Grainger College of Engineering. Awardees are chosen based on student evaluations.