Booker named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Squire J. Booker, professor of chemistry and of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed by peers upon members of the AAAS, the world's largest general scientific society and the publisher of the journal Science.

Booker's main research interests include deciphering the molecular details by which enzymes -- a special class of proteins -- catalyze reactions in the cell. 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. His laboratory garnered international attention for elucidating a pathway by which disease-causing 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. His AAAS fellowship is in recognition of his contributions to the field of mechanistic enzymology, particularly his research on enzymes employing extremely reactive molecules, known as free radicals, to catalyze their reactions.

In 2011, Booker was 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." 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 the bacteria responsible for most cases of tuberculosis. 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 15 graduate students and more than 35 undergraduate students, and is known for encouraging students in underrepresented groups to consider science-based careers. He has published about 60 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, Biochimica Biophysica Acta and the Journal of Biological Chemistry. He is past-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 Universit├ę Rene D├ęcartes in Paris. Later, in 1996, he was awarded a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship for studies at the Institute for Enzyme Research at the University of Wisconsin. He joined the Penn State faculty in 1999.

Last Updated January 17, 2014