Two honored with 2021 Eberly College of Science Distinguished Service Awards

July 07, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Eberly College of Science has honored two faculty with Distinguished Service Awards in 2021. The award was established in 1978 to recognize faculty and staff who have made significant and outstanding leadership and service contributions to the Eberly College of Science over a sustained period of time. This year’s awardees are Meredith Defelice and James Marden.

Meredith Defelice

Meredith Defelice outside

Meredith Defelice, teaching professor and associate department head for undergraduate affairs in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

IMAGE: Penn State

Defelice, teaching professor and associate department head for undergraduate affairs in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, was nominated for her many efforts to improve pedagogy and the undergraduate experience in the department and the college. As associate head for undergraduate affairs in the department, she has driven innovation in the undergraduate curriculum, improved morale of the faculty toward teaching, and helped to maintain undergraduate advising at a high level. She chaired the Eberly College of Science Undergraduate Education Advisory Committee and is a board member of the Center for Excellence in Science Education, where she actively promotes pedagogical excellence in the college. In addition to her formal duties, Defelice helped develop and facilitates the Evidence Based Teaching Academy, offered each year to Penn State faculty, and regularly teaches workshops at New Faculty Orientation. She was a major player in developing a pedagogy course for the Learning Assistant program, and in preparing successful applications for the accreditation of the Biochemistry major from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and for an award from the Beckman Scholars Program, which will provide the department with funds and training opportunities for promising undergraduates.

“Meredith has had a continuously positive impact on the experience of both faculty and undergraduate students within the department and the college,” said Wendy Hanna-Rose, professor and head of biochemistry and molecular biology. “She is a true champion for higher education with a tireless commitment to serving our University.”

Defelice has been recognized with several Penn State teaching honors, including the George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2014, the Penn State Center for Excellence in Science Education Fellowship in 2013, and the Paul M. Althouse Teaching Award in 2012.

Prior joining the Penn State faculty, Defelice served as a research assistant professor from 2008 to 2009 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 2003 to 2007 she was a postdoctoral fellow in the SPIRE program at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she received training and experience in both research and teaching. She earned a doctoral degree in cell biology at Duke University in 2002 and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at Occidental College in 1997.

James Marden

James Marden

James Marden, professor of biology and associate director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, where he is also director of operations.

IMAGE: Penn State

Marden, professor of biology and associate director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at Penn State, where he is also director of operations, was nominated for the award in recognition of his work to improve instrumentation and facilities at Penn State and to help scientists make the most of their research efforts. In addition to serving as the faculty leader for 11 mission-critical core facilities on campus, Marden has led faculty in initiatives to modernize and bring in new equipment. For example, he led a team that established a cutting-edge cryo-electron microscopy system at Penn State, including overseeing the proposal, funding efforts, space acquisition, and hiring staff to maintain and run the equipment. He also led the modernization of the fermentation facility into a biotechnology facility, which spurred the creation of a new Center of Excellence in Industrial Biotechnology and an industrial biotechnology undergraduate course. Marden also directs lab and office space allocation in three Huck buildings and works with research labs to identify novel ways of seeking insight from their samples and data collection that might lead to new grants or partnerships with industry.

“Jim has provided unselfish support for the development of our University’s instrumentation capability and has worked tirelessly to show our scientists how they and their research benefit from these systems,” said one nominator.

Marden’s scientific breadth also benefits university-wide recruitment of life science faculty.  Since 2014, he has been involved in Huck co-hires of 44 outstanding faculty in 17 departments and six colleges. He has also helped lead strategic interdisciplinary efforts among researchers in life sciences, materials, and engineering.

Marden’s other awards and honors include the Edward D. Bellis Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate Education from the Penn State Intercollege Graduate Program in Ecology in 2009, a National Science Foundation Career Development Award in 1997 and an American Society of Naturalists Young Investigator Award in 1990.

Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Marden was a postdoctoral researcher at Brown University and the University of Texas from 1988 to 1990. He earned doctoral and master’s degrees from the University of Vermont in 1988 and 1984, respectively, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami in 1981.

Last Updated July 07, 2021