Two Chemistry Faculty Members Receive 2016 Faculty Scholar Medals

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20 September 2016

Two of the four recipients of the University’s 2016 Faculty Scholar Medals for Outstanding Achievement are faculty in the Department of Chemistry.

The awards are given each year to one faculty member in recognition of scholarly or creative excellence represented by a single contribution or a series of contributions around a coherent theme.

Squire Booker (Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) won in the area of life and health sciences, and Mauricio Terrones (Professor of Physics, Chemistry, and Materials Science and Engineering) in the area of physical sciences.

Booker’s lab has developed innovative techniques to work with iron-sulfur radical S-adenosylmethionine enzymes within an oxygen-free atmostphere. They have solved a series of structures capturing intermediates in the reaction pathway, characterizing them spectroscopically and solving their co-crystal structures. These findings have broad reaching consequences for understanding antibiotic resistance and the biosynthesis of organic compounds.

Other notable work from the Booker lab has included potential applications in renewable energy, through research on cyclopropyl fatty acid synthase.  Booker’s publications have appeared in Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Journal of American Chemistry, to name just a few.

Booker was also recently named an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), a science philanthropy whose mission is to advance biomedical research and science education for the benefit of humanity.

Terrones’ nominations cited his ability to meld disciplines of condensed matter physics, materials science, chemistry, and biology and his leadership in creating Penn State’s Center for 2-Dimensional and Layered Materials. According to researchers at Harvard, MIT, Columbia, and Cambridge, the center has made Penn State a forefront player in the field.

Terrones has contributed broadly to the field of low-dimensional materials. He is well-known for his recent work on the synthesis of monolayers of transition metal dichalcogenides and the discovery of photoluminescence in these systems, which is a consequence of the direct band gap of the monolayers.

He has published 142 papers in the past five years.

Past winners of the Faculty Scholar Medal from the Department of Chemistry include John Badding (2015), Ray Schaak (2012), Phil Bevilacqua (2010), Marty Bollinger (2009), Ayusman Sen (2003), Xumu Zhang (2001), Wolfgang Ernst (1998), Andrew Ewing (1994), James Anderson (1992), Barbara Garrison (1990), and Nicholas Winograd (1985).


Squire Booker

Mauricio Terrones