Zachary Mandell, a doctoral candidate in the Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Microbiology program at Penn State, has been awarded the 2020-21 Paul Berg Prize in Molecular Biology.
The prize is awarded annually by the Eberly College of Science to an outstanding graduate student who has completed his or her second or third year of graduate study in the area of molecular biology. The exceptional achievements of Paul Berg in the field of molecular biology bestow considerable prestige to this prize, which is presented at the college’s annual Russell E. Marker Lectures in Genetic Engineering.
“Zach is the type of student one hopes to attract to their lab once during their career,” wrote nominator Paul Babitzke, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and also Mandell’s faculty adviser. “He is the most intellectually engaged student that I have ever known. His enthusiasm for science is infectious. Zach is a stellar student, fearless in his multidisciplinary approach, and highly deserving of this prestigious award.”
“He possesses high levels of scientific ability and motivation for contribution to the field, and is a hard-working and independent graduate student,” wrote nominator Katsuhiko Murakami, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. “It is a great pleasure for me to recommend Zachary for the Paul Berg Prize. This young man deserves it.”
Mandell earned his bachelor of science degree in biochemistry from McGill University in 2015 and joined Penn State’s Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Microbiology graduate program as doctoral candidate in 2017. He has since contributed as an author to three publications from the Babitzke lab — one published in 2019 in the journal mBio, another in 2020 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and a first-author manuscript submitted to eLife.