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Dean's Message: June 2016

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Excitement was at an incredible high throughout the college and world in early February. One of our own physicists, Assistant Professor and Penn State alum Chad Hanna, was an integral part of the LIGO team that detected gravitational waves in September 2015. This astonishing discovery not only confirmed Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, dating to 1916, but also changed the way we will be able to study and understand the Universe. We have included a sizeable feature article on page 4 to help you learn about and understand the history, importance, detection, and future of gravitational-wave science.

On the academic side, our college, in partnership with the College of Information Sciences and Technology and the College of Engineering, developed a new intercollege undergraduate major in Data Sciences, which launches this summer. Undergraduate students will now have the opportunity to learn the technical fundamentals associated with data sciences and the skills needed to manage and analyze large-scale data. Learn more about the new major and how our researchers are tackling the influx of big data in science in the feature article on page 16.

The college is also working to expand its impact on society through the translation of intellectual property from the lab bench to industry, with the goal of becoming a leader in improving health, developing new materials, and addressing environmental issues. With the help of the Biotechnology Advisory Board, the college’s Office for Innovation (O4I) has been assisting inventors in capturing IP; providing resources; locating industry partners; and fostering startup companies. You can read more about their initiatives and success stories in the feature story on page 24.

In other exciting news, Penn State will begin its new fundraising campaign this summer, which will strengthen the University’s position as a leader in research, education, and global outreach. The eight themes currently under consideration for the campaign include: global engagement; cultural literacy; human health; sustainability and human security; access and affordability; digital innovation; discovery, excellence, and community; and Invent Penn State. While our college will support all of the University’s fundraising initiatives, we will be giving substantial attention to enhancing human health. You can learn about the campaign and our fundraising goals on page 32.

As you’ll see throughout this issue, members of our college community, including our faculty, students, and alumni, are making significant contributions to real-world projects and problems. Because of their collaborative spirit and desire to maximize their impact on the world, our college continues be a leader in both scientific research and academics. Thank you for your continued support and contributions to the successes of our initiatives.


Douglas Cavener