Philip Bevilacqua named head of the Department of Chemistry

September 24, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Philip Bevilacqua, distinguished professor of chemistry and of biochemistry and molecular biology, has been named the new head of the Penn State Department of Chemistry, effective Aug. 15.

“Phil has a distinguished record of service and leadership in the Department of Chemistry, and I am confident that he will lead the department to further success and excellence,” said Douglas Cavener, Verne M. Willaman Dean of the Eberly College of Science.

Bevilacqua succeeds Thomas Mallouk, Evan Pugh University Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Physics, and Engineering Science and Mechanics, who served as the head of the department since 2015.

“I look forward to continuing the excellence of the chemistry department,” said Bevilacqua. “We plan to hire outstanding faculty, recruit top graduate students, and teach undergraduates with innovative methods. We will modernize the web interface, enhance alumni development, and increase diversity in the department.”

Bevilacqua focuses his research on attaining a molecular-level understanding of RNA, a macromolecule essential for all known forms of life that, among other functions, carries the genetic code for synthesizing proteins. Using techniques from molecular biology, chemistry and physics, his lab studies how RNA folds into diverse structures and the functions that result from this diversity. Specifically, they investigate how RNA can act as an enzyme, how RNA folds in vivo, and how RNA may have played a role in the emergence of life on Earth.

Bevilacqua's commitment to teaching and research have been honored with the C.I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching by the Penn State Eberly College of Science Alumni Society in 2012, the Faculty Scholar Medal in Physical Sciences by Penn State in 2010, and a CAREER Award by the National Science Foundation in 2000. He was named a Tombros Education Fellow by the Penn State Center for Excellence in Science Education in 2015, and was a Penn State Schreyer Honors College Distinguished Honors Faculty Fellow from 2010 to 2012, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar from 2001 to 2006, and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow from 2001 to 2003. Bevilacqua is an elected Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) and has been a member of the editorial board for the scientific journal RNA since 2004. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Molecular Biology since 2014 and has published scientific papers in journals such as Biochemistry, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Nature, Nature Chemical Biology, and Science.

Prior to joining the Penn State faculty in 1997, Bevilacqua was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder. He earned a doctoral degree at the University of Rochester in 1993 and a bachelor's degree at John Carroll University in 1987.

  • Philip Bevilacqua headshot

    Philip Bevilacqua has been named the new head of the Penn State Department of Chemistry.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated September 24, 2018