The Eberly College of Science is pleased to announce that alumna Melanie McReynolds will join the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology as Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Early Career Chair in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, effective January 1, 2022.
A 2017 graduate of the Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Microbiology doctoral program, McReynolds returns to Penn State following a postdoctoral appointment in the lab of Joshua Rabinowitz at Princeton University, where she was awarded a prestigious Hanna Gray Fellowship by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and was also an awardee of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Program.
“Dr. McReynolds is a creative and collaborative researcher of exceptional promise,” said Wendy Hanna-Rose, head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State. “Her accomplishments and potential are well recognized, and I am thrilled that she will be joining our faculty. She brings cutting-edge technical expertise in analyzing metabolic pathways, and an exciting research plan aimed at understanding how we age, to the department and the research enterprise at Penn State.”
McReynolds’ research addresses the metabolic vulnerabilities associated with aging, focusing specifically on the molecule NAD+, which is required by every living cell. Low levels of this molecule have been linked to aging and a wide range of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Using sophisticated tools that can track the molecule’s metabolic origin and fate, she aims to identify how NAD+ is produced and consumed, in order to clarify — and someday counter — the causes of diseases and aging.
As a graduate student, McReynolds came to Penn State through the Bridges to the Doctorate Program, a partnership with Alcorn State University that aims to increase representation of faculty of color in the sciences, and was an awardee of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Minority Ph.D. Program. She also served as president of Penn State’s Black Graduate Student Association.
Of her return to her alma mater, McReynolds said, “It’s really a dream come true, and it is a great honor for me to return as a faculty member to the very place that first gave me the opportunity to succeed in academia. I look forward to the day when I can pay forward the opportunities that were given to me — through building and enhancing graduate community, education, and scientific training.”
“Dr. McReynolds is a true Penn Stater,” Hanna-Rose said. “As a graduate student, she was well known and recognized across campus for her activism and leadership. We will all benefit from her effort and enthusiasm as she brings her passion for Penn State, and for helping others succeed, back to Happy Valley.”