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Three from Eberly College of Science named Distinguished Professor

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06 March 2018

Three faculty Members from the Eberly College of Science have been selected to receive the title of Distinguished Professor. Philip Bevilacqua, G. Jogesh Babu, and Mauricio Terrones were honored with the title in recognition of their exceptional record of teaching, research, and service to the University community. The honor is designated by the Office of the President of Penn State based on the recommendations of colleagues and the dean of the Eberly College of Science.


Jogesh BabuG. Jogesh Babu, professor of statistics and of astronomy and astrophysics, has diverse research interests in both statistics and probability, and in their applications to problems in astronomy and astrophysics. He has contributed extensively to probabilistic number theory, resampling methods—including bootstrap methods, nonparametric methods, and asymptotic theory. Babu's work in astrostatistics includes multivariate methods for satellite data on Gamma-ray bursts, faint source detection in multi-epoch data, analysis of astronomical datacubes, quantitative comparison of source properties to compare data with astrophysical theories, and regression methods to calibrate steps in the cosmic distance ladder. Babu and an astronomer colleague coined the term “astrostatistics” in mid 1990s, when they published a book by the same name.

Babu is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS), the American Statistical Association (ASA), and the International Astrostatistics Association (IAA). His also an elected member of the International Statistical Institute (ISI) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU). He was a Twinning Fellow of the National Research Council from 1997 to 1999. He has served as chair of the IMS Committee on Fellows from 2002 to 2003, and member of the IMS Committee on Fellows from 2001 to 2004. Babu has also been a research professor in the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute at the University of California, Berkeley in 2005; chair of the Program Leaders Committee, SAMSI Astrostatistics Program in 2006, program chair of the Program on Statistical, Mathematical and Computational Methods for Astronomy (ASTRO) from 2016 to 2017. Babu received an Outstanding Contributions to Astrostatistics Award from IAA in 2017. He was elected president of IAA in January 2018 to serve for the three-year period from 2018 to 2020.

Babu is the director of the Center for Astrostatistics at Penn State. He earned a master’s and a doctoral degree in statistics at the Indian Statistical Institute in Calcutta in 1970 and 1974, respectively. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State in 1985, Babu was associate professor of statistics from 1976 to 1881 and professor of statistics from 1982 to 1985 at the Indian Statistical Institute.


Philip Bevilacqua

Philip Bevilacqua, professor of chemistry and of biochemistry and molecular biology, 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.


Mauricio TerronesMauricio Terrones, professor of physics, chemistry, and of materials science and engineering, has made considerable experimental and theoretical contributions to the field of nanoscience—the physico-chemical and biological manipulation of incredibly small structures less than 100 nanometers, or less than a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair. He studies and builds novel carbon-based nanomaterials that exhibit novel phenomena and could potentially have industrial, biomedical, and electronic applications. Terrones co-developed new and low-cost methods for the production of carbon nanomaterials, and these innovative techniques are now used by other research groups around the world. He has co-authored over 400 papers in scientific journals including NatureScienceNature NanotechnologyNature MaterialsPhysical Review LettersNano LettersProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Applied Physics Letters, and his research articles have been cited more than 40,000 times worldwide. Terrones helped create Penn State’s Center for 2-Dimensional and Layered Materials in 2010 and has been the center’s director since 2013.

Terrones was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2017. He has been honored in the past with the Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Physical Sciences from Penn State in 2016; the Somiya Award for International Collaboration in Materials Research from the Internarial Union of Materials Research Societies in 2009; the Japan Carbon Award for Innovative Research from the Japan Carbon Society TANSO in 2008; the Scopus Prize from Elsevier in 2007; the Fernando Alba Medal from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 2007; The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) Prize in Engineering in 2006; the Javed Husain Prize and the Albert Einstein Medal from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2001; and the Mexican National Prize for Chemistry in 2000. He Is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK), Mexico's Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, and the Mexican Academy of Sciences.

Prior to joining the Penn State faculty in 2011, Terrones held a Chair of Excellence at the Universidad Carlos III in Spain in 2010 and was professor at the Instituto Potosino de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (IPICYT) in San Luis Potosí, Mexico from 2001 to 2009. He was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max-Planck-Institut für Metallforschung in Germany in 1999, and a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Sussex from 1997 to 1999. Terrones obtained a doctoral degree in chemical physics at the University of Sussex under the supervision of Nobel Laureate Harold W. Kroto in 1997 and a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics with first class honors at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico in 1992.

[ G L M / S J S]

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