Joseph Cotruvo Jr., associate professor of chemistry at Penn State, has been named recipient of the 2024 Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry by the American Chemical Society's Division of Biological Chemistry. Established in 1934, this award recognizes biological chemists, within 10 years of their last postdoctoral training, who have accomplished outstanding research in biological chemistry with excellence and independence in thought and originality. Cotruvo will be presented with a bronze medal and honorarium at the American Chemical Society Fall 2024 national meeting in Denver, Colorado.
“This award recognizes my students, postdocs, and collaborators — both at Penn State and at other institutions — who have worked hard to help turn research ideas into a research program,” says Cotruvo. “I'd also like to thank my colleagues for their support, for me personally and in creating a department that is so supportive of its junior faculty.”
Cotruvo’s work acknowledged by this award focuses on his pioneering discoveries in the area of the f-block, rare earth element (REE) recognition and biology. His group has described the fundamental features of REE coordination chemistry by proteins, and their role in microorganisms. It has extensive technological implications, from the ability to detect specific REEs to the recovery and separation of specific REEs from electronic waste and other sources. The Cotruvo Group has leveraged these discoveries to engineer what is recognized as the first robust biosensor for manganese, which will be used to uncover unknown aspects of manganese biology in cells and disease.
“We are absolutely thrilled to see this well-deserved national recognition for Joey," says Department Head Phil Bevilacqua. "He has been doing truly pioneering work in the characterization and application of rare earth elements in biology. We are fortunate to have Joey has a member of our department and continue to wish him and his group the very best."
Cotruvo has previously been honored with the Ed Stiefel Young Investigator Award in 2022, a Sloan Research Fellowship in 2021, a Department of Energy Early Career Award in 2020, a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award in 2020, a Charles E. Kaufman Foundation New Investigator Award in 2018, a Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2013, and a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship in 2008.
Prior to joining the Penn State faculty in 2016, Cotruvo was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned a doctoral degree in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012 and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Princeton University in 2006.