Hammes-Schiffer receives National Institutes of Health MERIT Award

June 17, 2011

Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, professor of chemistry and the Eberly Professor of Biotechnology at Penn State University, has been awarded a prestigious National Institutes of Health "Method to Extend Research in Time" (MERIT) award, a 10-year research grant to support her work. Hammes-Schiffer is an acknowledged world leader in biophysics whose research spans the fields of chemistry, physics, biology and computer science.

Hammes-Schiffer's research centers on the theoretical and computational investigation of charge-transfer reactions that play a vital role in many chemical and biological processes. She has developed analytical theories and computational methods to clarify the role of protein motion in enzyme catalysis and to examine reactions such as hydrogen tunneling in solution and in proteins. She has applied these approaches to a wide range of experimentally relevant systems. Her work has revealed fundamental principles of proton-coupled electron transfer reactions. In addition, her research group has developed a nuclear-electronic orbital method to incorporate nuclear quantum effects into electronic-structure calculations. Her research has important implications for protein engineering and drug design, and for the interpretation of experimental results in this field.

In 2010, Hammes-Schiffer was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society and she received an American Chemical Society Akron Section Award in 2008. In 2005, she received the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science Medal and the Agnes Fay Morgan Research Award from the Iota Sigma Pi National Honor Society for Women in Chemistry. In addition, Hammes-Schiffer was recognized with the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award in 1999, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in 1998, a Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities in 1998, and a Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation in 1996. She has served as a senior editor for the Journal of Physical Chemistry since 2001, and she was promoted to deputy editor of the Journal of Physical Chemistry B in 2011. In addition, Hammes-Schiffer serves on the editorial advisory boards of Accounts of Chemical Research, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and the Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation. She is currently the program chair for the Physical Division of the American Chemical Society. She was a charter member of a study section for the National Institutes of Health, and she also served as chair of the Theoretical Subdivision of the American Chemical Society. She is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society.

Hammes-Schiffer has published numerous scientific papers and has given over 200 invited talks and seminars. In 2004, she was selected as an Alexander M. Cruickshank Lecturer for the Gordon Research Conference on Isotopes, an Ephraim and Wilma Shaw Roseman Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, a Lucy Pickett Lecturer at Mount Holyoke College, a Donald Lecturer at McGill University, and a Woodward Lecturer at Harvard University.

Hammes-Schiffer joined Penn State in 2000 as the Shaffer associate professor of chemistry and was promoted to professor in 2003. In 2006, she was named the Eberly professor of biotechnology. She earned a doctoral degree in chemistry at Stanford University in 1993 and a bachelor's degree in chemistry, summa cum laude, at Princeton University in 1988.


  • IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated January 09, 2015