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Hammes-Schiffer Named Eberly Professor of Biotechnology

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Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, professor of chemistry, has been named the Eberly Professor of Biotechnology at Penn State. An acknowledged world leader in biophysics, her research spans the fields of chemistry, physics, biology, and computer science. One focus of her work is the theoretical and computational investigation of charge-transfer reactions that play a vital role in many chemical and biological processes. She uses a combination of quantum and classical molecular-dynamics simulations to examine hydrogen tunneling in solution and in proteins and to make clear the role of protein motion in enzyme catalysis. Her research has important implications for protein engineering and drug design, and for the interpretation of experimental results.

"Sharon is a world-class scientist whose research is leading to a deep understanding of how enzymes work," says Ayusman Sen, head of the Department of Chemistry. "In addition, she is a good citizen of the department and has provided able leadership in a variety of positions. I am absolutely delighted at this recognition by the University."

In 2005, Hammes-Schiffer's work was recognized with the Iota Sigma Pi Agnes Fay Morgan Research Award and the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science Medal. She also received the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award in 1999, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in 1998, and a Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1996. She has served as a Senior Editor for The Journal of Physical Chemistry since 2001 and is on the editorial advisory boards for Accounts of Chemical Research and Theoretical Chemistry Accounts. She is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, and the national academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa.

Hammes-Schiffer joined Penn State in 2000 as the Shaffer Associate Professor of Chemistry and was promoted to professor in 2003. Previously, she was the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Notre Dame from 1995 to 2000. She conducted postdoctoral research at AT&T Bell Laboratories from 1993 to 1995 and was a graduate research assistant at Stanford University from 1988 to 1993. She earned her bachelor's degree in chemistry, summa cum laude, at Princeton University in 1988 and her doctoral degree in chemistry at Stanford University in 1993.

As part of this appointment, Hammes-Schiffer will receive research funds from an endowment given to Penn State by the Eberly Family Trust. In 1986, the Eberly Family Trust gave $10 million to create a professorship in biotechnology, to establish a chair in each department in the Eberly College of Science, and to provide funding for the Hobby-Eberly Telescope.

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