Eric Nacsa Joins Faculty of Department of Chemistry

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14 February 2019

The Penn State Department of Chemistry is excited to announce that Dr. Eric Nacsa will be joining the department faculty starting June 1, 2019 as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry.

Dr. Nacsa earned a B.S. from Harvey Mudd College and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. He comes to Penn State from Princeton University, where he is conducting postdoctoral research with Professor David MacMillan.

Dr. Philip Bevilacqua, head of the Department of Chemistry, commented “Eric has done incredible work during in his PhD and postdoctoral studies in the area of synthetic organic chemistry.  He has designed potent organic bases and catalysts, as well as reagents for enantioselective alkylation reactions. Eric has creative ideas for new directions in synthetic chemistry that use novel and direct approaches for organic transformations.  Eric is an outstanding hire and we are very excited to have him joining our faculty!”

Dr. Nacsa is looking forward to making the transition to Penn State. He notes that, although he was impressed by the University’s top-tier research environment, he was particularly drawn to the atmosphere of collaboration within the department. “The highly collaborative nature of the Eberly College of Science provides a unique opportunity to make a notable scientific impact,” he says, “this environment will make it easier to work with other scientists to help me address my own technical challenges, and for me to lend my expertise to a broader range of problems.” Dr. Nacsa was also impressed by the department’s dedication to educating the next generation of scientists. “I really value PSU's commitment to teaching,” he says, “meeting with the chemistry teaching faculty was the most memorable part of my interview because I was amazed at how much support they receive, especially in the context of a large public research university. I am excited to be a part of this important and well-executed mission to provide quality, public higher education.”

Dr. Nacsa’s current research focuses on developing processes to make organic synthesis more efficient by creating techniques to manipulate the individual parts of molecules in new, productive ways. His work has the potential to help scientists discover new, life-saving drugs by giving researchers the tools to prepare the thousands of chemical compounds that are typically evaluated on the way to developing a new medicine  more quickly. “The faster each of these compounds can be prepared, the better we can make a contribution to human health,” he explains.

He plans to take this research even further at Penn State, noting, “I really want to leverage the chemical tools that I plan on developing to do more than make small organic molecules, which has been the traditional scope of organic synthesis. I think that this work could address problems in materials chemistry, renewable energy, and chemical biology.” He adds, “I believe that Penn State will provide an especially promising environment to achieve this goal.” Dr. Nacsa is looking forward to establishing a vibrant research group which will work toward this goal and address pressing problems in biochemistry.  “It is Eric’s commitments to scholarship and to our chemistry community that are especially important for our department”, added Dr. Bevilacqua.

Dr. Nacsa and his wife are looking forward to moving to State College with their dog, Winston. “We spent most of our 20s in NYC and the LA area, and are looking to transition away from bigger metro areas to start a family,” Dr. Nacsa explains, “We both grew up in smaller college towns and will be very happy to be able to have more space to play with our dog and our future children while still being a short distance from downtown and work.”

Join the Department of Chemistry in welcoming Dr. Nacsa to Penn State!

Maria Landschoot

Communications Coordinator

Department of Chemistry

Penn State University


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