Wendy Hanna-Rose named head of Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Gail McCormick
August 14, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Wendy Hanna-Rose, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, has been named the new head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State. Hanna-Rose has served as the interim department head since 2017 and succeeds Scott Selleck, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, who served as the head of the department since 2010.

“Wendy has done an outstanding job this past year as the interim department head, and I am confident that she will lead the department to further success and excellence,” said Douglas Cavaner, Verne M. Willaman Dean of the Eberly College of Science.

Hanna-Rose received the 2018 Eberly College of Science Climate and Diversity Award for her commitment to improving the climate of the department during her tenure as interim department head. She recently led an Evidence Based Teaching Workshop for faculty members in the Eberly College of Science, and is frequently a mentor in workshops for students, faculty and members of the community. Hanna-Rose also served as associate department head for undergraduate education in the department from 2010 to 2013. 

“Our BMB community is comprised of outstanding scientists, talented teachers, promising trainees and dedicated staff,” said Hanna-Rose. “My objective as a leader in BMB is to ensure that we continue to build and expand on our strong record of significant contributions to a variety of bioscience fields and that we are at the forefront of efforts to effectively teach and train young scientists in preparation for their own future contributions. I look forward to the role I aim to play in strengthening and extending what is already a strong foundation to ensure a future with exceptional potential for BMB.”

Hanna-Rose’s research focuses on understanding how changes in cellular metabolism affect cell function and behavior. She is particularly interested in errors in the synthesis of purines — metabolic building blocks that are a component of DNA and are involved in a variety of other cellular and metabolic processes — and how these errors can lead to cognitive impairment, reproductive dysfunction and loss of muscle control. To study these questions, Hanna-Rose’s lab uses genetic tools to manipulate the genome and gene expression of a small microscopic worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, and monitors the resulting outcomes. Hanna-Rose has published over 30 papers in scientific journals, including Nature Communications, Trends in Genetics, the Journal of Cell Biology, and Current Opinion in Genetics and Development.

Hanna-Rose has been recognized for her teaching and research achievements on numerous occasions, including with the Milton S. Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching from the Penn State Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence in 2018; the Climate and Diversity Award from the Penn State Eberly College of Science in 2018; the Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success Penn State chapter in 2014; the Faculty Recognition Award from Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) in 2011; the C.I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Eberly College of Science in 2007; the Daniel T. Tershak Memorial Teaching Award from the Penn State Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2004; and the Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award from the March of Dimes in 2002. She was a Penn State Public Scholarship Fellow from 2011 to 2012, and has led several pedagogy workshops across the world, including at Penn State, Sichuan University in China, the University of Split in Croatia, and Fudan University in China.

Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State in 2002, Hanna-Rose served as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder, from 1996 to 2000. She earned a doctoral degree in microbiology and molecular genetics at Harvard University in 1996 and a bachelor’s degree in biology at Anderson University in 1989.

Last Updated August 14, 2018