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Deans Letter - Summer 2019

4 September 2019

Science continues to push the boundaries of space and time from billions of light years at the macroscale to the nanoscale and beyond. In this issue of the Science Journal we explore the marvelous array of discoveries and applications in the nanoworld. Nitin Samarth, Downsbrough Department Head of Physics and a world-renowned expert in condensed matter physics, is our guest editor and guide through the complexities and excitement of nanoscience.

Since becoming dean of our college in 2015, I have advocated the merging of teaching and research as one enterprise to learn, discover, and solve problems. As part of this initiative, we are transforming the way in which we teach, specifically implementing methods of actively engaging students both inside and outside of the classroom. Most of our core undergraduate courses across the college have implemented these new methods, and we can already see the great benefit to our students. To implement these methods requires training our faculty, and to address this need we established a week-long Evidence Based Teaching Academy workshop patterned after a very successful international program developed by Wendy Hanna-Rose, professor and head of biochemistry and molecular biology. With this increased focus on instruction and related curricular reform, we decided to split the responsibilities of the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education into two new associate dean positions. Mary Beth Williams has transitioned from senior associate dean of undergraduate education to her new role as senior associate dean of instruction and curricula and Chris Palma, teaching professor of astronomy and astrophysics, is now the associate dean for undergraduate students. 

Our faculty and students have had yet another astounding year in accomplishments and awards, headlined by the election of Squire Booker to the National Academy of Sciences, the most prestigious scientific society in our nation. Squire is a professor in our chemistry department, holds the Eberly Family Distinguished Chair in Science, and is a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, but I want to add a personal note here that Squire has an infectious personality and keen sense of humor. Also, this year Penn State broke the record in the number of Goldwater Scholarship awardees. Four Penn State students were chosen for this highly prestigious national scholarship: Ananda Rankin, Gwen Oliver, Sojung Kim, and Anna Brogan. And yes, you guessed it, all four students are majors in Eberly Science. 

While this issue of the Science Journal focuses in on the nanoscale, the accomplishments of our college are remarkably larger. I hope you enjoy learning more!

Kind regards,

Douglas R. Cavener
Verne M. Willaman Dean

Dean Douglas Cavener