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Mallouk elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences

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06 May 2015

Tom MalloukThomas Mallouk, Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Physics, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State University, has been elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Election to membership in the academy is one of the highest honors accorded to U.S. scientists or engineers by their peers.

Mallouk is an inorganic chemist who is highly regarded for his research on nanomaterials and their application to a broad range of scientific and technological problems. He and his students showed in 1988 that inorganic crystal lattices can be grown one layer at a time on surfaces by wet chemical techniques. He used this approach to make surface structures for artificial photosynthesis, chemical sensing, and the separation of left-handed and right-handed forms of the same molecule, which is a critical step in many applications. In 1998, he developed an optical screening method for simultaneously evaluating hundreds of catalytic materials and used it to discover catalysts that improve the performance of fuel cells, water electrolysis, and glucose sensors. This method now is widely used for materials discovery. Currently, his group is developing nanoscale materials to address problems in photochemical energy conversion, energy storage, electronics, catalysis, environmental remediation, and powered movement on the nanometer scale. In 2004, they introduced the concept of polymeric “delivery vehicles” that carry reactive nanoparticles through tens of meters of soil and ground water in order to destroy pollutants. In 2007, together with colleague Joan Redwing, professor of materials science and engineering and of electrical engineering at Penn State, Mallouk's team fabricated the first silicon nanowire solar cells. In 2009, Mallouk and his students developed the first molecule-based solar cells that split water into hydrogen and oxygen with visible light. Recently, Mallouk's lab, in collaboration with colleagues Tony Jun Huang, professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State and Ayusman Sen, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Penn State, have developed nanomotors that, for the first time, can be powered and controlled inside living cells, a breakthrough that holds promise for new methods for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases.

His work has been recognized with an Exxon/American Chemical Society Solid-State Chemistry Award in 1986, a Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1987, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship in 1988, a Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award in 1989, and an Alpha Chi Sigma Outstanding Professor Award in 2003. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2006. He also received a Priestley Undergraduate Teaching Award in the Penn State Department of Chemistry in 2006, followed by the Penn State Schreyer Honors College Teaching Award in 2007. Mallouk won the American Chemical Society National Award in the Chemistry of Materials in 2008 and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. He was named an Evan Pugh professor at Penn State in 2010, the highest distinction bestowed by the University on its faculty. He was selected as a Fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2013.

Mallouk is the author or co-author of over 380 research publications and an introductory textbook on inorganic chemistry, and has edited four books on solid-state synthesis, interfacial chemistry, and chemical sensors. He has been associate editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society since 1996, and has served on editorial boards for the Journal of Solid State Chemistry, Advanced Functional Materials, Chemistry and Materials, the Canadian Journal of Chemistry, Accounts of Chemical Research, Nano Today, and Nano Letters. Mallouk was the director of the Penn State Center for Nanoscale Science, a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center supported by the National Science Foundation, from 2005 to 2010, and he currently is the associate director of the center. He also has been director of the Center for Solar Nanomaterials at Penn State since 2010.

Mallouk holds a number of patents for innovations that resulted from his research. He has been Chief Scientist for NuVant Systems Inc., an electrochemical technology company, since 2000. Together with then-graduate student Cary Supalo, Mallouk headed the Independent Laboratory Access for the Blind (ILAB) project at Penn State from 2004 to 2010, developing laboratory techniques and technology for students who are blind or have low vision. Their work resulted in the establishment of Independence Science, LLC, a company that provides materials, resources, and advice to students and helps institutions meet the compliance goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mallouk earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at Brown University in 1977 and a doctoral degree in chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley in 1983. He was a member of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin as assistant professor from 1985 to 1989, associate professor from 1989 to 1991, and professor from 1991 to 1993. He joined the faculty at Penn State in 1993, and in 1998 he was named the DuPont Professor of Materials Chemistry. He also was named a professor of Physics in 2005, and a professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2012.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, which calls on the academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.


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