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Science Achievement Graduate Fellowship

Lecturers from 2018 to the present


Jennifer Doudna.

Biochemist and Nobel Prize-winning co-inventor of CRISPR technology Jennifer Doudna will present the fall 2023 Science Achievement Graduate Fellows (SAGF) Lecture on Monday, October 23, at 4 p.m. This free online public lecture, titled “A decade of CRISPER: What's ahead for genome editing,” is sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science with funds the Russell E. Marker Lecture endowment.

Fundamental research to understand how bacteria fight viral infections uncovered the function of CRISPR-Cas programmable proteins that detect and cut specific DNA or RNA sequences. Doudna will describe their research showing how CRISPR-Cas9, an RNA-guided protein, is the foundation of widely accessible technology for genome editing. Current research focuses on exploring the biochemical basis for genome editing and developing effective applications in medicine and agriculture. Recent results show how CRISPR-Cas9 “reads” the genome to find target sequences quickly and accurately. These findings are the foundation of strategies to use CRISPR-based genome editing in new ways, including to study the biology of microbial communities such as the human gut microbiome.

Biochemist and Nobel Prize-winning co-inventor of CRISPR technology, Jennifer Doudna, to present fall 2023 SAGF lecture

Katie Mack.

Theoretical astrophysicist and popular science writer Katie Mack will present the spring 2023 Science Achievement Graduate Fellows (SAGF) Lecture on Monday, January 23, at 1 p.m. in the Paterno Library's Foster Auditorium on the Penn State University Park campus. This free public lecture, titled “Physics at the End of the Universe,” is sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science with funds the Russell E. Marker Lecture endowment.

Mack’s lecture will share what modern astrophysics predicts about the ultimate fate of the universe and what its destruction might look like. An informal reception will follow the talk in 321 Whitmore Lab.

Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist who currently holds the Hawking Chair in Cosmology and Science Communication at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada. Her research explores a range of questions in cosmology—the study of the universe from beginning to end—including those related to dark matter and the early universe. She is also interested in making physics more accessible to the general public and recently authored the book “The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking).” She has written for a number of popular publications, such as Scientific American, Slate, Sky & Telescope, Time, and Cosmos magazine, and can be found on twitter as @AstroKatie.


Maria Chudnosvsky.

Mathematician Maria Chudnovsky presented the fall 2021 Science Achievement Graduate Fellows (SAGF) Lecture on Monday, November 1, 2021.

Chudnovsky received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Technion Israel Institute of Technology, and a doctoral degree from Princeton University. She was a Liu Family Professor of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at Columbia University, a Clay Mathematics Institute research fellow, and a Veblen Research Instructor at Princeton and the Institute for Advanced Study. Chudnovsky is an editorial board member of the Journal of Graph Theory, the Journal of Computer and System Sciences, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics journal Discrete Mathematics.  She was a part of the team that proved the strong perfect graph theorem, a 40-year-old conjecture that had been a well-known open problem in both graph theory and combinatorial optimization. For this work the team was awarded the prestigious Fulkerson prize in 2009. In 2010, Chudnovsky was named one of the "brilliant ten" young scientists by Popular Science magazine. In 2012, she received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and in 2014 she was an invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians. Today, Chudnovsky is a mathematics professor at Princeton University.

Brilliant Ten scientist, Maria Chudnovsky, to present Science Achievement Graduate Fellows Lecture November 1

Jane Willenbring.

Geologist Jane Willenbring presented the spring 2021 Science Achievement Graduate Fellows Lecture on February 10, 2021.

Jane Willenbring is an associate professor of geological sciences at Stanford University. Willenbring’s research examines the evolution of the Earth’s surface, especially how landscapes are affected by tectonics, climate change, and life. She also organizes environmental justice campaigns around urban soil pollution and does outreach to help reduce sexual harassment and discrimination in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). She is the recipient of the Antarctica Service Medal from the US Armed Forces, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and Marguerite T. Williams award, and a Presidential Citation from the American Geophysical Union. Willenbring is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and a Gabilan Fellow at Stanford University. She is one of the scientists featured in the film Picture a Scientist.

Spring 2021 Science Achievement Graduate Fellows Lecture


Yvonne Buckley photo for the Science Achievement Graduate Fellowship lecture page.

Yvonne Buckley, professor of zoology at Trinity College Dublin, presented the fall 2019 Science Achievement Graduate Fellows (SAGF) Lecture on Tuesday, October 29, 2019.

Yvonne Buckley focuses her research on understanding the fundamental drivers of how animal and plant populations cope with a rapidly changing world. She combines data collected in the lab, in the field, and from existing literature with quantitative modelling to predict the responses of populations to changes in their environment. Buckley’s research provides support for environmental policies that impact biodiversity conservation, invasive species management, and habitat restoration.

Buckley meets SAGF fellows visits local high school scientists

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell, winner of the 2018 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, presented the srping 2019 Science Achievement Graduate Fellows (SAGF) Lecture at Penn State.

Since the 1960s, Bell Burnell has actively taken strides in furthering the education and research of astronomy. She has served as president of the Royal Astronomical Society as well as the first female president of both the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Bell Burnell is currently a visiting professor of astrophysics at the University of Oxford, professorial fellow in physics at Mansfield College, Oxford, and chancellor of the University of Dundee.

Breakthrough Prize winner Jocelyn Bell Burnell to present Science Achievement Graduate Fellows (SAGF) Lecture


Alicia Carriquiry

Alicia Carriquiry, distinguished professor of statistics and director of the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence at Iowa State University, presented the inaugural Science Achievement Graduate Fellows (SAGF) Lecture.

Alicia Carriquiry researches applications of statistics in human nutrition, bioinformatics, forensic sciences, and traffic safety and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles in corresponding academic journals.

Inaugural Science Achievement Graduate Fellows (SAGF) Lecture