James Marden, professor of biology and associate director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at Penn State, where he is also director of operations, has been named a recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Service Award. The award was established in 1978 to recognize faculty and staff who have made significant and outstanding leadership and service contributions to the Eberly College of Science over a sustained period of time.
Marden was nominated for the award in recognition of his work to improve instrumentation and facilities at Penn State and to help scientists make the most of their research efforts. In addition to serving as the faculty leader for 11 mission-critical core facilities on campus, Marden has led faculty in initiatives to modernize and bring in new equipment. For example, he led a team that established a cutting-edge cryo-electron microscopy system at Penn State, including overseeing the proposal, funding efforts, space acquisition, and hiring staff to maintain and run the equipment. He also led the modernization of the fermentation facility into a biotechnology facility, which spurred the creation of a new Center of Excellence in Industrial Biotechnology and an industrial biotechnology undergraduate course. Marden also directs lab and office space allocation in three Huck buildings and works with research labs to identify novel ways of seeking insight from their samples and data collection that might lead to new grants or partnerships with industry.
“Jim has provided unselfish support for the development of our University’s instrumentation capability and has worked tirelessly to show our scientists how they and their research benefit from these systems,” said one nominator.
Marden’s scientific breadth also benefits university-wide recruitment of life science faculty. Since 2014 he has been involved in Huck co-hires of 44 outstanding faculty in 17 departments and 6 colleges. He has also helped lead strategic interdisciplinary efforts among researchers in life sciences, materials, and engineering.
Marden’s other awards and honors include the Edward D. Bellis Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate Education from the Penn State Intercollege Graduate Program in Ecology in 2009, a National Science Foundation Career Development Award in 1997 and an American Society of Naturalists Young Investigator Award in 1990.
Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Marden was a postdoctoral researcher at Brown University and the University of Texas from 1988 to 1990. He earned doctoral and master’s degrees from the University of Vermont in 1988 and 1984, respectively, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami in 1981.