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Showalter named assistant dean for graduate and postdoctoral affairs

18 June 2024

Scott Showalter, professor of chemistry and of biochemistry and molecular biology, has been named as the assistant dean for graduate and postdoctoral affairs in the Penn State Eberly College of Science, effective July 1.

Scott Showlater

“We are excited for Scott to join the dean’s office in this very important and reimagined position for our college,” said Aleksandra “Seša” Slavković, associate dean for research and professor of statistics in the Eberly College of Science. “He brings a passion for graduate education and significant experience as a previous chair of the graduate program in chemistry, and is a recognized mentor for graduate students, postdocs and early career faculty. I am looking forward to a close collaboration with Scott, especially because graduate students and postdocs are essential to the success of our research.”

In his role as assistant dean, Showalter will lead college-level initiatives in support of graduate students’ educational experiences, as well as postdoctoral scholars’ professional development. He will oversee graduate program and policy reviews, lead college efforts for graduate student and postdoc recruitment and retention, and work with graduate students and faculty in the college to improve mentoring and training. In addition, he will work collaboratively with the associate dean for research, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and college departments to ensure alignment of programming with college and University strategic goals and to foster a positive climate for all members of the college.

“During my prior service as the director of graduate studies in chemistry my most rewarding experiences involved working to establish our graduate student association and to build professional development opportunities into our training program,” Showalter said. “I enjoyed learning how the other programs in the college delivered instruction in teaching pedagogy, scientific ethics, and related topics while also maintaining excellence in their disciplinary education. As an assistant dean, I look forward to seeking opportunities for deeper collaboration across our college’s graduate programs and with the intercollege graduate degree programs that are a crucial component of the graduate training environment in our college. Related to this point, I am inspired by the inclusion of postdoctoral affairs in the portfolio of this reimagined position. I look forward to developing opportunities for this traditionally underserved community of scholars to enrich their time at Penn State.”

Showalter is a biophysical chemist; his research merges an interest in the systems and processes from biochemistry with the principles and quantitative laws from physical chemistry. His lab makes broad use of an imaging technique called solution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, in combination with thermodynamic analysis, chemical biology, and cellular assays, to advance understanding of protein function. He focuses on biophysical studies of macromolecular interactions involving partially disordered proteins, which are chosen for their role in eukaryotic gene regulation, the molecular processes that determines when and in which cell types genes are activated.

“Scott is an incredible scientist, and also brings a strong track record of dedication to excellence in research, teaching, and mentoring to this position,” said Mary Beth Williams, acting dean of the Eberly College of Science. “Graduate students and postdocs across the college are certain to benefit from his commitment to their success. I am excited to work with Scott as he uses his dedication and experience to lead the efforts in the college to enhance the educational and professional development of graduate students and postdocs. I am confident that he will help elevate both the quality of their experiences and the excellence of our graduate programs.”

Showalter was honored with the Milton S. Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching at Penn State in 2024. He was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2021 and received the Eberly College of Science Distinguished Faculty Mentoring Award in 2019. Showalter has previously been honored with the EAS New Faculty Award in NMR Spectroscopy in 2012 and the U.S. National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2010.

Before joining the faculty at Penn State in 2008, Showalter was a U.S. National Institutes of Health NRSA postdoctoral fellow at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida, from 2005 to 2008. He earned a doctoral degree as an NSF predoctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis in 2004 and a bachelor’s degree at Cornell University in 1999.