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Katheryn Penrod

Assistant Teaching Professor
Kate Penrod

Professional Appointments:

Assistant Teaching Professor

Assistant Laboratory Director of Physical Chemistry



B.S. Chemistry, York College of Pennsylvania (2014)

M.S. Chemistry, The Pennsylvania State University (2017)

Ph.D. Chemistry, The Pennsylvania State University (2021)




Dr. Penrod serves as the Assistant Laboratory Director of Physical Chemistry. She works closely with Dr. Milosavljevic on overseeing and developing CHEM457 and CHEM459W. Her research interests are primarily pedagogical, with emphasis on student engagement in physical chemistry courses. Her personal research background is focused in computational and quantum chemistry.



Honors & Awards:

  • Graduate Student Online Teaching Certificate, Penn State (2019)
  • Computational Materials Education & Training NSF Traineeship, Penn State (2017-2021)
  • NSF GRFP Honorable Mention, Showalter Lab, Penn State (2016)
  • Dan H. Waugh Memorial Teaching Award, Penn State (2015-2016)
  • Dalalian & Braddock/Roberts Fellowships, Penn State (2014-2015)
  • Outstanding Contributions to Chemistry Department, York College of PA (2014)



Pedagogical Research:

  • Curriculum development focused on improving engagement in physical chemistry courses
  • Elucidating and communicating the role of undergraduate research in science education
  • Vertical integration of basic computational skills into lower-level chemistry courses



Scientific Research:

  • Incorporating computational and theoretical chemistry into physical chemistry experiments
  • Developing reactive force fields to describe aqueous peroxide and radical chemistry
  • Density functional theory as a benchmarking method for reactive force field development
  • Exploring biomolecular flexibility using molecular dynamics




  • Penrod, K.A.; Burgess, M.A.; Akbarian, D.; Dabo, I.; Woodward, W.H.; van Duin, A.C.T. (2021) “Using C-DFT to Develop an e-ReaxFF Force Field for Acetophenone Radical Anion and its Role in Polymer Dielectric Breakdown.” Journal of Chemical Physics.
  • Leven, I.; Hao, H.; Tan, S.; Guan, X.; Penrod, K.; Akbarian, D.; Evangelisti, B.; Hossain, M.J.; Islam, M.M.; Koski, J.; Moore, S.; Aktulga, H.M.; van Duin, A.C.T.; Head-Gordon, T. (2021) “Recent Advances for Improving the Accuracy, Transferability, and Efficiency of Reactive Force Fields.” J. Chem. Theory and Computation.
  • Akbarian, D.; Hamedi, H.; Damirchi, B.; Yilmaz, D.E.; Penrod, K.; Woodward, W.H.H.; Moore, J.; Lanagan, M.T.; van Duin, A.C.T. (2019) “Atomistic-Scale Insights into the Crosslinking of Polyethylene Induced by Peroxides.” Polymer, 183, 121901.
  • Acevedo, R.; Evans, D.; Penrod, K.A.; Showalter, S.A. (2016) “Binding by TRBP-dsRBD2 Does Not Induce Bending of Double-Stranded RNA.” Biophysical Journal, 110 (12), 2610-2617.