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Professor Lee Penn named a 2015 ACS Fellow

Professor Lee Penn has been named a 2015 American Chemistry Society (ACS) Fellow. Fellows are honored for their outstanding contributions and service to chemistry, science, the profession, and the ACS. She was honored along with the other 77 new Fellows at the fall National ACS meeting in Boston.

Penn has a consistent and long record of service to the ACS community. She has been active in the ACS since serving as a co-organizer for the Women Chemists Luncheon held at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (Baltimore, MD) in 2001. Her service to the ACS community has included co-organization of numerous sessions at national meetings, and serving as membership chair for the Division of Geochemistry from 2006 to 2010. Recently, she has served as program chair elect, program chair, chair, and past chair for the Division of Geochemistry, and she is the division’s current counselor. In addition, she has served as a judge for poster sessions, a mentor for ACS student members, and as a reviewer for numerous papers submitted to ACS journals. She is a member of the editorial board for Geochemical Transactions, which is the official journal of the Division of Geochemistry.

Her dedication to the ACS reflects her dedication to the University of Minnesota and the Department of Chemistry. Penn has received prestigious awards for her teaching, mentoring and research, including the 2015 Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education, and the George W. Taylor/CSE Alumni Society Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2009. She was a McKnight Presidential Fellow from 2008-2011, and has been an Institute on the Environment Fellow since 2011. She also received a George Taylor Career Development Award from the College of Science and Engineering, and a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation.

Penn is an advocate for diversity and has a personal and professional commitment to improving the diversity of people studying and working in science, technology, engineering and math fields. She is the founding chair of the Chemistry Department’s Diversity Committee and co-leads trainings focused on the how scientists and engineers can serve as allies to diverse students, with particular focus on LGBTQ identified students.

An outstanding scientist, Penn’s research focuses on four major areas:

  • Elucidating the fundamental aggregation and growth mechanisms - especially nonclassical crystal growth mechanisms - of inorganic nanoparticles;
  • Characterizing the chemical reactivity of natural and synthetic nanoparticles;
  • Characterizing the magnetic behavior of iron oxide nanoparticles (e.g., natural and synthetic ferrihydrite, goethite, and magnetite); and
  • Designing and implementing effective curriculum introducing atomic-structure imaging in a high-resolution transmission electron microscope as a means to strengthen and improve middle school students’ understanding of the atomic structure of solid materials.

Professor Penn joined the Department of Chemistry faculty as an assistant professor in 2001. She was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2008, and to full professor in May 2015. She earned bachelor degrees in chemistry from Beloit College in 1992, and her master’s degree in 1994 and doctorate in 1998 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For a year, she was an adjunct faculty member at Towson University, and then was a post-doctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins University for a year before coming to the University of Minnesota.

The list of 2015 ACS Fellows appeared in the July 13 issue of Chemical & Engineering News.  Information about the ACS Fellows Program, including lists of Fellows named in earlier years and more details about the 2015 class, is available on the ACS website.