Squire Booker receives Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award

Squire J. Booker, associate professor of chemistry and an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State University, has been honored with an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award. The award, which consists of a monetary prize and an unrestricted research grant, is given by the American Chemical Society "to recognize and encourage excellence in organic chemistry."

Booker's main research interests include deciphering the molecular details by which a special class of proteins, called enzymes, catalyze the various reactions in the cell that constitute what is vaguely termed "life." He then uses the insight gained to manipulate these reactions for various objectives, ranging from the production of biofuels to the development of antibacterial agents. Recently, his laboratory garnered international attention for elucidating a pathway by which pathogenic bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus evade entire classes of commonly used antibiotics. These results were published in two papers in the journal Science.

In 2004, Booker was recognized as one of 57 of the country's most promising scientists and engineers by President George W. Bush with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. He received the award at the White House in recognition of his research on enzyme reactions, including his work on an enzyme involved in the synthesis of unusual fatty acids, which is needed by Mycobacterium tuberculosis for pathogenesis. In 2002, he received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, the agency's most prestigious award for new faculty members.

Booker has mentored 11 graduate students and over 30 undergraduate students, and is known for encouraging underrepresented minority students to consider science-based careers. He has published about 50 scientific papers in journals such as Science, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and he has served as guest editor for Current Opinion in Chemical Biology and Biochimica Biophysica Acta. Currently he is chair of the Minority Affairs Committee of the American Association of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Booker earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at Austin College in 1987, where he was a Minnie Stevens Piper Scholar, and a doctoral degree in biochemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. That same year he was awarded a National Science Foundation–NATO Fellowship for postdoctoral studies at Université Rene Décartes in Paris, France. Later, in 1996, he was awarded a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship for studies at the world-renowned Institute for Enzyme Research at the University of Wisconsin before joining the Penn State faculty in 1999.

 

Contacts: 
Last Updated October 12, 2011