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Philip Skell, Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Dies

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30 November 2010

Philip Skell, Evan Pugh professor of chemistry at Penn State University, died on 21 November 2010 of age-related causes. He was 91.

Early in his career, Skell worked with carbene — a species of carbon. He is well known for the "Skell Rule," which is used to predict how some chemical compounds will form. Throughout his time at Penn State, Skell presented numerous invited lectures at universities and other institutions across the United States and in Europe. In addition, he authored over 180 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, such as the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Skell became a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1977. In that same year he received a C.I. Noll Award for Teaching Excellence.

Skell earned a bachelor of science degree at City College of New York in 1938, a master's degree at Columbia University in 1939, and a Ph.D degree at Duke University in 1942. He joined Penn State's faculty in 1952, and he was promoted to full professor in 1960. He was appointed Evan Pugh professor of chemistry in 1974 and he retired in 1984.

A memorial service was held on Friday, 26 November 2010, in Eugene, Oregon. Survivors include his life companion, Mary Lee Sinnamon; his four children, Deborah Skell, Victoria Skell Cerf, Jeffrey Skell, and Aviva Heston; and his eight grandchildren. His wives, Margo Fosse Skell and Dorothy Gerber Skell, died previously.


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