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Dean's Letter - Summer 2021

10 November 2021

Dear Friends of the College,

Tracy Langkilde photo as dean for the Eberly College of Science.

Here in the Eberly College of Science, we are applying what we have learned during the pandemic to provide our students with the excellent education they expect from Penn State. I am also marking my first full year as dean of the college. I am so proud of how our college has responded to the challenges of the past 18 months, keeping science, education, and our community moving forward. 

This issue of the Science Journal highlights some of these efforts and the “remote” nature of our education and research over the past year. From underwater drones in the Gulf of Mexico to orbiting satellites detecting signals from distant solar systems, the Eberly College of Science has a wealth of experience in effectively working remotely, as guest editor Julia Kregenow, teaching professor of astronomy and astrophysics, explains in greater detail.

While the past year and a half has been challenging, the upward trajectory of our college continues. In the 2020–2021 fiscal year, our researchers attracted over $74 million dollars in sponsored awards and were recognized for their enterprising and transformative research. We celebrated the graduation of 1097 undergraduates from our college in a beautiful spring commencement ceremony in Beaver Stadium. It gave me goosebumps to witness our accomplished graduates have their degrees conferred as their family and loved ones shouted out their names in unison. We also welcomed Beth McGraw as the head of the department of biology and Randy McEntaffer as head of the department of astronomy and astrophysics, and are excited to have Miguel Mostafá become associate dean of research and innovation in January. 

This past year has highlighted the collaborative nature of science and, as such, has got me thinking often of our donors, who have been central in supporting the college through these challenging times. I want to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation. You have given generously to the Future Fund that provides emergency support to students during the pandemic and to Educational Equity Scholarships to strengthen diversity in the college (see "Our Community, Shining Through It All"). You are also helping to enrich the Eberly College of Science student experiences through your support for summer research, internships and fellowships, student organizations, and science excellence funds. This generosity has had a huge impact, and the students whom you are helping us to educate, nurture, and develop are budding scientists who will change the world. Your Endowed Chairs and Professorships and gifts to research funds have allowed us to recruit, support, and retain world class researchers who are creating new knowledge and solving global problems and training students to do the same. Thank you! If you are inspired to support our critical education and research efforts, please reach out to our Senior Director of Development and Alumni Relations Kim Neely at (814) 863-1247 or or give now at

As we move into the fall semester with more in-person events on campus, I hope some of you are able to make it to University Park, whether to attend an event, engage with our students, or just for a walk down memory lane. I would love to hear from you! Our college community is resilient and as the last year has shown, we are prepared to move through any upcoming challenges. We are thankful for your continued support and we look forward to a bright future together. 

Kind regards,
Tracy Langkilde
Verne M. Willaman Dean