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David Boehr receives Priestley Prize

David Boehr receives Priestley Prize

David Boehr, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has been selected to receive the 2012 Priestley Prize for Outstanding Teaching in Chemistry.

The prize will be formally given at the Chemistry Department commencement reception in May.

The Priestley Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching in Chemistry is awarded annually to a faculty member in the Chemistry Department for excellence in undergraduate chemistry instruction.

The Priestley Prize was established in 2002 to recognize the best undergraduate teachers in the Chemistry Department as measured by the increase in learning and enthusiasm for the subject by the students in chemistry courses.

Nick McCool and Isamar Ortiz receive NSF Graduate Fellowships

Nick McCool a graduate student in Dr. Tom Mallouk's research group and Isamar Ortiz a graduate student in Dr. Ayusman Sen's research group have been awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees in fields within NSF's mission. The GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant achievements in science and engineering research.

Madeline Sherlock to participate in the 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

Madeline Sherlock, a junior undergraduate student in Dr. Phil Bevilacqua's research group, has been selected to participate in the 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting this summer in Lindau, Germany.

Nella Vargas-Barbosa to participate in 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

Nella Vargas-Barbosa, a 3rd year graduate student in Dr. Tom Mallouk's research group, has been selected to participate in the 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting this summer in Lindau, Germany.

Nicole Morozowich receives the Alumni Dissertation Award

Nicole Morozowich, a graduate student in Dr. Harry Allcock's research group has been chosen by the Graduate School to receive the Alumni Association Dissertation Award.  This award is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards available to Penn State graduate students. It recognizes outstanding achievement in scholarship and professional accomplishments. Her dissertation topic is focused on the design, synthesis, and evaluation of biomimetic polyphosphazenes for hard tissue engineering. Nicole is scheduled to defend in late April and will begin her professional scientific career as a Senior Research Technologist at 3M in May.

Nicole is the 7th student from the Chemistry department to receive this award since it's inception in 2002. Previous winners were in 2012 (Tyler L. Grove), 2011 (Carolyn E Lubner), 2010 (Megan L. Matthews), 2008 (Patrick F. Conforti), 2003 (David J. Proctor), 2002 (Michael A. Trakselis).

Nicole will receive the award at the Graduate School Alumni Society's Spring Social, on March 27, 2013 at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Kimy Yeung receives a travel grant from ACS

Kimy Yeung, a graduate student in Dr. Scott Phillips research group has been selected to receive a travel grant from the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry in order to attend the ACS meeting in New York.

Joseph Dixon, in Memoriam, 1919 to 2013

Joseph Dixon, professor emeritus of chemistry and former head of the Penn State University Department of Chemistry, died on 7 February 2013 at the age of 93.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 4 November 1919, Joseph Dixon began his career in chemistry in 1937 as an undergraduate student at Penn State, receiving his B.S. and M.S. degrees there before earning his Ph.D. degree in chemistry in 1946. He then became a chemistry instructor at Penn State. From 1951 to 1955 he was a chemist with the California Research Corporation and an associate professor of chemistry at Lafayette College. He then returned to Penn State as a member of the chemistry faculty in 1955, attaining the rank of professor in 1961. His research interests included the study of compounds of organolithium and organomagnesium, the structure of molecules, and the physical properties of organic

He was named assistant head of the department in 1967, then he served as head of the department from 1971 until his retirement on 30 June 1984. He also had served Penn State as Chair of the University Faculty Senate from 1982 to 1983 after having served as chair-elect since 1981. He had been a member of the University Faculty Senate from 1958 to 1964 and from 1979 to 1984. Upon his retirement, he was honored with the title of Professor Emeritus of Chemistry in recognition of his superb and transformative leadership in transitioning the Department of Chemistry into a leading research organization. Under his direction, Penn State developed what was described then as the largest collection of ultra-pure high-molecular-weight hydrocarbon chemicals in the world. An enthusiastic teacher, he continued to teach some chemistry courses following his retirement, commenting that instructing others is "a way to contribute an impact beyond your lifetime as well as passing the rewards of an exciting field on to someone else." Penn State's Eberly College of Science Alumni Society honored him in 1990 with its Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his over 30 years of service to the University.

Dixon continued to contribute to the chemistry community following his retirement from Penn State in 1984. An active member of the American Chemical Society since 1942, he had served as secretary, vice chair, chair, and councilor of the ACS Central Pennsylvania Section, and he continued his service since 1979 as section editor of the ACS Journal of Chemical and Engineering Data and on numerous national-level committees, subcommittees, and program-review study groups. He served during three terms as chair of the key committees on Chemical Abstracts, Budget and Finance, and Publications. From 1987 to 1995, he was a member of the ACS Board of Directors.

After having served as Director-at-Large of the ACS Board since 1987, he was elected as Chairman of the Board in 1990 and then was re-elected in 1991 to serve in this position until 1992. In 1997, Dixon became Chair of the Pension and Investment Committee of the Board which oversees the total liquid assets of the American Chemical Society.

In 1997, Dixon received the Harry & Carol Mosher Award of the ACS Santa Clara Section presented "to recognize and encourage work in chemistry, to advance chemistry as a profession, and to recognize service to the American Chemical Society."

In addition to being a member of the American Chemical Society, he was a fellow of the American Petroleum Institute; a member of the Sigma Xi, Phi Eta Sigma, and Phi Lambda Upsilon scientific honorary societies; and a member of the American Association of the Advancement of Science, the American Association of University Professors, and the Pennsylvania Association of College Chemistry Teachers.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Joseph A. Dixon endowment in Chemistry and
should be mailed to the Chemistry Department, 104 Chemistry Building, University Park, PA

[ B K K ]

The obituary published on 8 February 2013 in the Centre Daily Times is online
at <

Barbara Garrison (Head, Penn State Department of Chemistry):
Barbara Kennedy (PIO):, 814-863-4682

Welcome to Paul Cremer and his research group

Paul Cremer, Professor of Chemistry, BMB & J. Lloyd Huck Chair in Natural Sciences, has arrived with his research group and equipment.    Paul and his group are settling in over in Davey Lab.  

Paul's office is 113 Davey.   His researchers are located in 128 and 130 Davey.    Please be sure to stop over and welcome them to the department! 

Members of Paul's group:

Paul's email -
phone number - 865-6259

Tinglu Yang - Research Scientist
Tao Zhao - Visiting Scientist
Yangjun Cai - Postdoc
Zhi Zhao - graduate student
Kelvin Rembert - graduate student
Matt Poyton - graduate student
Halil Okur - graduate student
Yi Liu - graduate student
Da Huang - graduate student
Xiao Cong - graduate student
Yi-Ting Liao - graduate student
Seung-Yi Lee, graduate student

Scott Phillips receives Eli Lilly Award

Scott Phillips receives Eli Lilly Award

Scott Phillips has been selected to receive the “2012 Eli Lilly and Company Young Investigator Award in Analytical Chemistry” in the amount of $50,000 for use in his research. This award is being made by the Analytical Chemistry Academic Contacts Committee at Eli Lilly and Company based upon Dr. Phillips’ outstanding research, publication record, and the impact they feel he is making in the field of analytical  chemistry.

Rod Kreuter receives Wheeler P. Davey Award

Rod Kreuter receives Wheeler P. Davey Award

Rod Kreuter the Director of the Chemistry Research Instrument Facility, is the 2012 Recipient of the Wheeler P. Davey Staff Award for Excellence in Scientific and Technical Support.  Rod will receive his award at the Holiday Celebration on Wednesday, December 5, on the Willaman Bridge.

Dana Hosko receives College Award

Dana Hosko receives College Award

At a recent ceremony, Chemistry staff member Dana Hosko was recognized for her contributions to the College of Science. She received the 2012 award for Research Staff Support. The award was presented at a reception held in the Nittany Lion Inn on November 7.

Penn State and Dow Chemical partner to promote laboratory safety

This summer, Penn State began a new partnership with the Dow Chemical Co. to improve laboratory safety at the University. A diverse team of faculty, safety officers and graduate students from the Departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering (MATSE), as well as the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Office, are working with Dow to develop best practices that can be instituted across all laboratory research departments at Penn State. The goal is to improve the University’s safety culture to avoid the type of accident that killed a student in California four years ago.

In late 2008, Sheri Sangji was 23 years old and a research assistant at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). On Dec. 29, she was alone in a chemistry lab, using a syringe to transfer t-butyl lithium, a dangerous compound that ignites spontaneously when exposed to the air. Somehow, the plunger popped out of the syringe, spraying the chemical onto her hands, synthetic sweater and an open flask of flammable solvent under the hood where she was working. A flash fire scorched 40 percent of her body. She died 18 days later.

A subsequent investigation of the entire lab revealed that “personal protective equipment was not fully utilized” and that Sheri had not been wearing “body protection.” Beyond the extensive clothing recommended, Sheri wasn’t even wearing the flame-resistant lab coat that could have saved her life. Her sister Naveen, now a surgical resident at Harvard, later said of her death, “Real people and families are profoundly affected. Safety has to be an absolute priority and the first priority for any laboratory.”

The Chemical Safety Board (CSB), the national group that typically investigates industry accidents, conducted a review of this incident and academic laboratory safety in general. This past January, it issued a scathing report on universities that included a sobering video. Andrew Zydney remembers the 2008 UCLA death, as well as the accidental poisoning of a Dartmouth professor in 1997 and a 2010 explosion at Texas Tech that left a graduate student without three of his fingers. Zydney is the department head of chemical engineering at Penn State, and he sent the CSB video to his faculty colleagues. “Those events opened everyone’s eyes,” Zydney says. “Nothing like that has happened here, and our safety record is excellent. But, until now, we haven’t been doing as much as we could or should be doing to maintain that record. It is imperative that we be proactive.”

Dow has a sterling international reputation for its safety programs and its philanthropy, and Penn State has had a strong relationship with Dow for decades. The former department head of chemical engineering, Larry Duda, came to the University from Dow, and the corporation made a $2 million gift in his honor shortly before he passed away in 2007. In 2011, Dow decided to significantly increase its support of higher education research in the three traditional departments of chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science and engineering. Dow committed to provide $250 million in research funding over the next ten years to 11 selected universities, including Penn State. Dow subsequently decided to partner with three of these 11 institutions (Penn State, the University of Minnesota, and University of California, Santa Barbara) to try to significantly enhance laboratory safety and to develop a culture that emphasizes the importance of safety overall.

Previously, in 2008, the Department of Materials Science and Engineering revamped its perspective on safety and eventually formed the MATSE Safety Awareness Organization (MSAO) to raise awareness. It also has active involvement and safety guidance from its external advisory board and Dow Corning. However, Department Head Gary Messing is happy about the increasing attention and assistance from Dow this year. “MatSE has heavily invested in safety already,” Messing says, “but the Dow initiative has helped us find ways to further implement safety practices in all of our graduate and undergraduate labs.”

In its first phase, the safety partnership with Dow focused specifically on research labs, and most of this lab work is conducted by graduate students (e.g., nearly 100 in chemical engineering and more than 250 graduate students and postdoctoral research assistants in chemistry). However, Chemistry Department Head Barbara Garrison points out that as the safety practices are integrated into undergraduate labs, the collaboration with Dow will ultimately affect thousands of students. “Chemistry alone teaches 5,500 undergraduates each year in lab courses,” she explains, “and Penn State has one of the largest undergraduate chemical engineering programs in the country.”

An initial pilot program began this summer, with bi-weekly meetings between representatives of Dow and an interdepartmental safety team at Penn State. The team also developed a survey instrument to perform a baseline assessment of safety culture and awareness at the University, and a small group of researchers and EHS representatives from Dow visited the three departments to tour the laboratories and talk with graduate students, staff and faculty.

In late July, a group of 23 students, faculty and staff from Penn State spent two days at Dow’s R&D headquarters in Midland, Mich., to learn about the company's laboratory safety practices and culture. Dow shared a range of best practices on chemical labeling, reactive hazards and personal protective equipment. The Penn State-Dow safety team is now working to implement many of these ideas to enhance the existing safety programs at Penn State.

The Department of Chemical Engineering and EHS are piloting a new color-coded chemical labeling system that makes it much easier to identify chemical hazards. The Chemistry Department is implementing the use of “standard operating cards” to better define safe procedures for running experiments and is also conducting a learning experience with near misses. Garrison is most excited about their new web site with easy access to safety resources. “As it says right on the site, ‘Our goal is to provide you with easily accessible tools to make safety a component of everything you do in the laboratory (and life!).’”

Ultimately, Penn State wants to have its graduates recognized for having a state-of-the-art safety experience, which will put them at a competitive advantage when they pursue industrial positions after graduation. At companies like Dow, safety is a business imperative with enormous legal and financial ramifications. If anyone spots unsafe conditions, they are expected to report it immediately. Students well versed in this level of safety protocol are invaluable as future employees. Their labs are pristine. Sinks are not filled with glassware. Chemicals are not left on tables. Safety violations may result in terminations.

This type of commitment does not happen overnight. It is too easy for safety to be simply a checklist instead of a way of behaving, thinking and doing. The pilot program is just the beginning of a University-wide effort between faculty, students and operations to create a new, vigilant atmosphere. “Changing the culture of safety means embracing the collective aspect of it,” says Zydney. “As each new student or faculty member makes safety a part of their everyday behaviors, we all benefit. We are all safer.”


Written by:  Alex Novak

William Noid Receives Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award

William Noid Receives Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award

William Noid, an assistant professor of chemistry at Penn State University, has been honored with a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Teacher-Scholar Award. The award supports the research and teaching careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences and includes a monetary prize.

Noid's research group develops and applies statistical mechanical methods to investigate various phenomena in biochemistry, molecular biology, and materials science. His group is developing novel computational and theoretical methodologies for investigating protein-protein interactions and, in particular, the unique physical properties and biological functions of disordered proteins. Recent experimental evidence indicates that these proteins play central roles in vital cellular processes and also may be involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease and other debilitating neurodegenerative diseases. However, these processes evolve on timescales beyond the scope of conventional computational models.

Most recently, Noid's lab has proposed a theory for determining accurate coarse-grained models directly from experimental data. Coarse-grained models are mechanical models of molecular systems in which the fundamental interacting particles represent groups of atoms. These models can investigate slow processes, such as protein-protein interactions, occurring on timescales that are inaccessible to more conventional models. Ultimately, these coarse-grained models will provide insight into the role of disordered proteins in both cellular processes and pathology.

Several prior awards have recognized Noid's research and scholarship, including a 2011 Sloan Research Fellowship in recognition of his cutting-edge, independent research accomplishments, a 2011 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation, and a 2010 American Chemical Society Hewlett-Packard Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in Computational Chemistry, given by the American Chemical Society's Division of Computers in Chemistry. In addition, Noid was honored in 2006 with a National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. In 2005, he received a Tunis Wentink Prize as an outstanding chemistry graduate of Cornell University.

Noid earned a doctoral degree in chemistry at Cornell University in 2005, and a bachelor's degree in chemistry with minors in mathematics and physics at the University of Tennessee in 2000.

Story by Katrina Voss

Carsten Krebs Awarded Inorganic Chemistry Early Career Award

Carsten Krebs Awarded Inorganic Chemistry Early Career Award

Carsten Krebs, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and a professor of chemistry at Penn State University, has been chosen by the Society for Biological Inorganic Chemistry (SBIC) as the recipient of the Society's 2012 Early Career Award. The SBIC Early Career Award has been described as the signature award in the field of biological inorganic chemistry. It is awarded to the most meritorious scientist who has completed no more than 15 years of distinguished research in the field. The award comes with a monetary prize and a plaque, and will be presented to Krebs before his plenary lecture at the 16th International Conference for Biological Inorganic Chemistry in Grenoble, France.

Krebs is a bioinorganic chemist whose research interests concern iron-containing enzymes; primarily, the activation of oxygen by non-heme enzymes. These enzymes play key roles in human biochemistry and are involved in diverse biological processes, including oxygen sensing, DNA repair, and gene regulation. Krebs has a joint research group with J. Martin Bollinger, Jr., a Penn State professor of chemistry and of biochemistry and molecular biology. Together, they study the function of these enzymes using a combination of spectroscopic, kinetic, biochemical, and molecular-biological methods.

Krebs's other awards and honors include a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, which he earned in 2006, and a Young Investigator Award from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, which he earned in 2005. In addition, he was honored with a Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry in 2008.

Before joining the Penn State faculty, Krebs was a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University from 1997 to 2002. He joined the faculty at Penn State as an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in 2002 and was named assistant professor of chemistry in 2004. He was promoted to associate professor in 2007 and to full professor in 2012.

Krebs earned a doctoral degree in inorganic chemistry at the Max Planck Institute for Radiation Chemistry in Mülheim, Germany in 1997. He earned bachelor's and diploma degrees at Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany in 1991 and 1994, respectively.

Story by Katrina Voss

Scott Showalter receives Eastern Analytical Award

Scott Showalter receives Eastern Analytical Award

Scott Showalter, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has been selected to receive the inaugural Eastern Analytical Society New Faculty Award in NMR Spectroscopy sponsored by Agilent Technologies.  This award recognizes outstanding contributions by new faculty to the development of the field of NMR spectroscopy (broadly defined).

Sheryl Rummel promoted to Lecturer

Sheryl Rummel promoted to Lecturer

Sheryl Rummel has been promoted to Lecturer.

Sheryl joined the Penn State faculty in 2008. She earned her Ph.D. in 2008 from Penn State University.

Jackie Bortiatynski promoted to Senior Lecturer

Jackie Bortiatynski promoted to Senior Lecturer

Jackie Bortiatynski has been promoted to the rank of Senior Lecturer.

Jackie joined the Penn State faculty in 1998. She earned her Ph.D. in 1990 from Penn State University.

Hemakesh Mohapatra chosen for ACS Symposium

Hemakesh Mohapatra, a graduate student in the Phillips group, has been chosen in a select group of students to present his work at the upcoming ACS Division of Organic Chemistry Graduate Research Symposium.  For more information about the symposium please click here.

John Asbury receives DOE Early Career Award

John Asbury receives DOE Early Career Award

John Asbury, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has been selected to receive an award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Early Career Research Program for his proposal "Molecular and Structural Probes of Defect States in Quantum Dots for Photoconversion."  John is the only awardee from PSU.  The award is designed "to bolster the nation's scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work." The award also aims to provide scientists with incentives to focus on fields of research that are a high priority to the Department of Energy and to the United States.

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