CDB Tunji Toogun Memorial Award

The UIUC community remembers Tunji Toogun, a dedicated Ph.D. student in CDB.

Tunji Toogun Memorial Awards

The Department of Cell and Developmental Biology is pleased to announce the first recipients of the Tunji Toogun Memorial Award. This award was created to recognize a CDB graduate student for his/her outstanding research achievements, in memory of a PhD student who tragically passed away in 2007.

Award Recipients

Frank Echtenkamp, PhD 2015, Freeman Lab, now a postdoctoral fellow at Technishche Universität München, Germany

Nimish Khanna, PhD 2015, Belmont Lab, now a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biological Sciences, UCSD

To donate towards the CDB Tunji Toogun Memorial Graduate Fellowship Fund please visit:


Tunji Toogun, a Cell and Developmental Biology Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, died August 3, 2007 at the age of 26 after falling into Lake Shelbyville and drowning. Within his career, Tunji was best known for his hard work and boundless enthusiasm for research and learning.

Born in Nigeria on October 15, 1981, Toogun studied at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign receiving his B.S. in 2001 and a posthumous Ph.D. in 2007. Tunji first arrived to UIUC as an incoming freshman in 1997 at the age of sixteen to begin a long and fruitful academic career. He left an immediate impact on those around him with his strong Nigerian accent and his always friendly and persistent demeanor.

Friends and teachers of Tunji characterized him as a bright, kind, and enthusiastic individual who was also a great friend.

A year after Tunji’s death, a fund was established in his memory, with contributions from Tunji’s friends, classmates, and faculty. The Department of Cell and Developmental Biology has decided to use this fund to recognize and support outstanding graduate students in our program in the form of awards and fellowships. The Oyetunji Toogun Memorial Award will be offered annually to a CDB graduate student at any stage of the graduate program for his or her outstanding research accomplishments.

Tunji Tunji
Tunji Tunji
Tunji Tunji
Tunji Tunji