SPARC Program: Science, Partnerships, and Research Collaborations

Advancing the Next Generation of Science Partnership Leaders

Addressing the grand science challenges of our time requires dynamic collaborations and partnerships on a global scale. SPARC is a highly selective program that equips outstanding emerging leaders from Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the University of Chicago with the skills required to forge impactful and effective partnerships with industry, government, other academic institutions, and non-profit organizations. Members of the SPARC cohort will develop a toolkit and network that will help them launch and take a leadership role in new and innovative partnerships that have the potential to transform science and technology. Programming includes fireside chats with University and Lab leadership, talks from leaders in industry, personalized coaching, guidance from an Advisory Council of exemplary science leaders, and networking across the three institutions. Learn more here.

We are pleased to announce the participants in the inaugural SPARC cohort for the Fall 2023 program:

  • Akram Bakkour – Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, The University of Chicago
  • Anindita Dutta – Research Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • Bei Ye – Section Manager, Fuel Technology Assessment (FTA) Section, Chemical and Fuel Cycle Technologies (CFCT) Division, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Bryan Dickinson – Professor, Department of Chemistry, The University of Chicago
  • Heather Whitney – Research Assistant Professor, Department of Radiology, The University of Chicago
  • Jai Yu – Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, The University of Chicago
  • Jason Cheng – Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, The University of Chicago
  • John Anderson – Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, The University of Chicago
  • Joseph Strzalka – Physicist, Dynamics and Structure Group, X-Ray Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Justin Connell – Materials Scientist, Materials Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Kalyan Kumaran – Senior Computer Scientist, Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Kyle Chard – Research Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, The University of Chicago; Joint Appointee, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Maria Baldini – Scientist, Magnets Technology Division, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Matthew Kaufman – Assistant Professor, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, The University of Chicago
  • Nhan Tran – Wilson Fellow and Division Director for Real-Time Processing Systems, Computer Science and AI Directorate, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Nhung Nguyen – Research Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago
  • Saravan Chandrasekaran – In-Kind Contribution (IKC) Coordinator, PIP-II, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Sergey Chemerisov – Manager, Intermediate Voltage Electron Microscope (IVEM) and Low Energy Accelerator Facilities (LEAF), Experimental Operations & Facilities Division, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Sihong Wang – Assistant Professor, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, The University of Chicago
  • Yuepeng Zhang – Principal Materials Scientist, Applied Materials Division, Argonne National Laboratory

Benefits of Participating

  • Advance your command of effective communication, partnership development, and industry engagement
  • Personalized coaching from executive coaches at the Harry L. Davis Center for Leadership and members of the SPARC Advisory Council
  • Develop a professional roadmap outlining partnership strategies
  • Engage with University and Lab leadership on major science initiatives and partnerships 
  • Network with other faculty and scientists across the University of Chicago, Argonne, and Fermilab
  • Efficient masterclass format 


Ideal candidates will be:

Emerging science leaders who have a demonstrated interest in continuing their professional and leadership growth through the development of dynamic partnerships and collaborations. Ideal candidates will be at a mid-career inflection point where they have established their research agenda and may have undertaken some external collaborations, but are interested in developing a network and toolkit to help expand external collaborations and lead collaborative partnerships. Some background with partnership development is preferred but extensive experience is not required. Specific guidelines for target eligibility at each institution are noted below:

  • UChicago –  Faculty or research professors at assistant- or associate-level.
  • Argonne & Fermilab – Mid-career scientists/engineers with 7+ years experience (typically senior scientist/engineer level, but applicants are not restricted to that title). CASE associates are encouraged to apply.

For additional questions regarding eligibility, please contact

Advisory Council

The SPARC Advisory Council is a group of science leaders from UChicago, Argonne, and Fermilab who are exemplary drivers of partnerships within a range of domains and industries. Program participants will be matched with an Advisory Council member based on shared domain areas and partnership-types of interest, and will meet 1-1 with their Advisory Council mentor twice over the course of the program. The Advisory Council includes:

Junhong Chen

Crown Family Professor of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago; Lead Water Strategist at Argonne National Laboratory

Bonnie Fleming

Deputy Director for Science and Technology and Chief Research Officer at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; Professor, Department of Physics at the University of Chicago

Michael J. Franklin

Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor, Senior Advisor to the Provost for Computing and Data Science, and Faculty Co-Director, Data Science Institute at the University of Chicago

Maryellen Giger

A.N. Pritzker Distinguished Service Professor of Radiology, the Committee on Medical Physics, and the College, and Vice-Chair of Radiology (Basic Science Research) at the University of Chicago

Scott Oakes

Professor of Pathology, Committee on Cancer Biology, Committee on Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition

Anne Sylvester

Director of Research, Marine Biological Laboratory

Juan de Pablo

Executive Vice President for Science, Innovation, National Laboratories, and Global Initiatives and Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago; Senior Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory

Ian Foster

Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Computer Science; Director, Data Science and Learning Division, Distinguished Fellow, and Senior Scientist, Argonne National Laboratory

Laura Gagliardi

Richard and Kathy Leventhal Professor in the Department of Chemistry, the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, and the James Franck Institute. Director of the Chicago Center for Theoretical Chemistry at the University of Chicago

Ka Yee Lee

Executive Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Chemistry, the James Franck Institute, the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, and the College at the University of Chicago

Jayant Pinto

Professor of Surgery, Director of Rhinology and Allergy, Director of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Research UChicago Medicine
Dean of Faculty Affairs, Biological Sciences Division

Matthew Tirrell

D. Gale Johnson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus and Dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, the University of Chicago; Interim Deputy Laboratory Director for Science & Technology, Argonne National Laboratory

Program Format & Dates

The program format is designed to maximize impact with limited time commitment (totaling est. 27 hours). The program will occur in three parts:

* = in person, † = virtual

Part 1: Program Kickoff

September 21, 2023 – Kickoff Dinner + Networking Session*

September 22, 2023 – Full Day Content Session*


Part 2: Coaching

November 2, 2023 – 3 Hour Content Session †

November 2023 – 90-min Harry Davis Leadership Center Coaching Session †

November 2023 – 30-min Advisory Council Coaching Meeting*/†


Part 3: Program Conclusion

December 4, 2023 – Full Day Content Session*

December 2023 – 2x 90-min Harry Davis Leadership Center Coaching Sessions†

December 2023 – 30-min Advisory Council Coaching Session*/†


Part 4 – Post-Program Check-ins

March 2024  – 90-Day Check-in†

June 2024 – 180-Day Check-in†

Application/Nomination Process & Timeline

  • Application: No longer accepting applications 
  • Requirements include:
    • Updated resume/CV
    • 1-2 paragraph short answer outlining goals for participation in the program.
  • Each application must also include a 1 paragraph nomination from an advisor or senior faculty member/scientist who can speak to the applicant’s qualifications. The purpose of the nomination is to provide an endorsement of the applicant’s interest in and eligibility for the SPARC program.
    • There are two options for how the nomination may be submitted. The applicant will choose which option they prefer in the InfoReady application.
      • Option 1: The applicant may obtain the nomination directly from their nominator and upload the file to their application.
      • Option 2: The applicant may provide the email address of their nominator in InfoReady, and their nominator will receive an email with instructions for how to submit their nomination.
    • Argonne participants will be nominated through an internal selection process. Please reach out to your division leadership or with questions.
    • Limit of 1 nomination per application.
    • Nominations may come from members of the Advisory Council, however it is not required.


Application Timeline

Below are the dates for the SPARC application process. Please note that applicants from the University of Chicago and from the National Labs have different deadline dates.


Application Opens

May 1, 2023

Applications & Nominations Due

June 30, 2023 by 11:59 pm CT

Questions? Please contact

The SPARC Program is a collaborative effort between the Office of Science, Innovation, National Laboratories, and Global Initiatives; the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation; and the Booth School of Business. This initiative is supported by the University of Chicago Joint Task Force Initiative (JTFI), a signature UChicago program dedicated to helping Argonne and Fermilab achieve mission success by opening channels of frequent communication and collaboration across institutions.

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