From the Department Head
Dear Friends of the Penn State Chemistry Department,
Exciting news! The National Research Council ratings of academic departments across the country have finally appeared. Unfortunately, NRC added ambiguity by having two ranking schemes. Depending on which scheme is used, Penn State Chemistry is between 9th and 15th among U.S. chemistry departments, a rise of several places from the 1995 ranking. Moreover, the entire Penn State Eberly College of Science is now one of the top science colleges in the country. At about the same time, an article in the September 13, 2010 Wall Street Journal had the headline “Penn State Tops Recruiter Rankings.” The sample recruiter comment about Penn State students is “Bright, well-rounded students… with the core competencies we desire.” Thanks to all of you over the years who have helped the Penn State Chemistry Department, Eberly College of Science and the whole university establish our reputation. We are only as good as the graduates from our institution. Penn State is the place to recommend to your children, colleagues, and friends as a university of prominence for obtaining their education at either the undergraduate or graduate level.
For those of you who might be recruiting Ph.D. chemists, the Penn State Chemistry Department hosts Sponsors Days each fall. We set up appointments with Ph.D. chemists, host a poster session for recruiters to chat with the students, and provide an opportunity to interact with faculty members. From Michaeleen Pacholski (’99 Ph.D.) “The poster session allows us to see how well students present their research and to learn more about the exciting research at Penn State; it is the reason we use Sponsors Days as our recruiting event for Ph.D. chemists.” If you wish to recruit for your company at Sponsors Days, please contact us.
The awards to our faculty, students and staff abound – please check out the Awards section of this Newsletter on page 9. President Obama chose one of our faculty members for a National Medal of Science. The Department now has their 6th Evan Pugh Professor out of 22 at Penn State and we have a new Distinguished Professor. Two of our young colleagues received CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation. One graduate student received a Department of Energy Graduate Fellowship and another student the Penn State Alumni Association Dissertation Award. Staff and faculty have been recognized internally for their efforts to increase the diversity in our graduate student class.
We hired three new faculty members who started in Fall 2010. Miriam Freedman (Ph.D. from the University of Chicago; postdoc at the University of Colorado) has research interests in probing basic questions in physical chemistry that have atmospheric applications, using both spectroscopic and surface science approaches. Ben Lear’s (Ph.D. from UC San Diego and postdoc at Ohio State University) research focuses on both fundamental and applied problems involving electron transfer in inorganic systems with an emphasis on biosensors, molecular electronics, and photovoltaics. Alex Radosevich (Ph. D. from UC Berkeley and postdoc at MIT) plans to establish a program geared toward the development of new catalytic strategies and methods that address modern issues related to organic synthesis and energy conversion. We will write more about them in future newsletters.
This year has been exciting for Penn State Chemistry. We hope it has been exciting and rewarding for you too.
Best wishes, Barbara