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Castleman Receives Thomas W. Phelan Fellows Award

19 May 2008
A. Welford Castleman Jr.

A. Welford Castleman Jr., Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry and Physics and Eberly Family Distinguished Chair in Science at Penn State, was presented with the Rensselaer Alumni Association (RAA) Thomas W. Phelan Fellows Award on June 8. Castleman received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1957 and was nominated for the award by the institute's Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

The RAA Fellows Award was created in 1987 to honor alumni and friends of Rensselaer who, by their achievements in a chosen profession or endeavor or by their service to the institute, have set an example for Rensselaer men and women to emulate. A maximum of one award per school or department may be presented each year. The RAA Fellows Award consists of an engraved gold watch and a framed certificate, which are presented at a public occasion by the department that nominated the individual for the award.

A member of the Penn State faculty since 1982, Castleman's research focuses on small clusters of molecules. In particular, he is interested in why nanoscale matter behaves differently from large-scale matter. He also pursues topics ranging from fundamental issues of quantum confinement and solvation effects on reactions to problems in catalysis, materials science, and atmospheric chemistry. In 1992, his group created the first Metallo-carbohedrenes, or Met-Cars, which are combinations of carbon and metal atoms expected to have applications as catalysts, superconductors, or the quantum wells in semiconductor devices. In 1997, Castleman developed a unique method for arresting intermediates in chemical reactions by employing a Coulomb explosion femtosecond laser technique.

Castleman was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1998, a fellow of the American Academy for Arts and Sciences in 1998, and a fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences in 1998. He received the Wilhelm Jost Memorial Lectureship 2000 Award from the German Chemical Society (Bunsen-Gesellschaft fuer Physikalische Chemie) and was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in 1989. In 1988, he was the recipient of the American Chemical Society Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science and Technology, and in 1987 was awarded a Doktors Honoris Causa from the University of Innsbruck, Austria. Castleman was named a U.S. Senior Scientist von Humboldt Awardee in 1986, 1996, and 2007, and was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1985) and the American Physical Society (1985), a senior fellow of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science in 1985 and 1997, and a Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at the California Institute of Technology in 1977.

Castleman received a bachelor's of chemical engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1957 and his Ph.D. (1969) at the Polytechnic Institute of New York. He has been on the staff of the Brookhaven National Laboratory (1958-1975), an adjunct professor in the Departments of Mechanics and Earth and Space Sciences at the State University of New York, Stony Brook (1973-1975), and a professor of chemistry and fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado, Boulder (1975-1982). In 1982, he accepted a professorship in the Department of Chemistry at Penn State, and was given the title Evan Pugh Professor in 1986. In 1999, Castleman was appointed Eberly Distinguished Chair in Science and a joint professor in the Department of Physics. He has been a member of the advisory board for The Penn State Particulate Materials Center and is currently a member of the Materials Research Institute.