A Message from the Chair

Tom Mallouk, Department Chair

Welcome to Penn Chemistry! It is a privilege to lead this distinguished department as we move toward a new era of exploration in the chemical sciences. While a brief history of chemistry at Penn is detailed here, our earliest origins are rooted in the chemical studies of our Founder, Benjamin Franklin. Nearly 250 years ago, Franklin performed his famous “oil drop experiment” at Clapham Common, London, where his measurements yielded data from which molecular dimensions could be calculated [B. Franklin (1774) Of the Stilling of Waves by Means of Oil. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. London 64, 445-460]. Franklin’s ebullient spirit of curiosity and drive for discovery live on in Penn Chemistry.

Faculty research interests in Penn Chemistry are summarized on individual web pages and span the subfields of biological, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. Our award-winning faculty are national and international leaders in their research, teaching, and laboratory mentoring, and together with their students and postdoctoral fellows they continue to make stunning discoveries in all areas of chemistry. Our geographic proximity to the top-ranked Perelman School of Medicine, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Wharton School at Penn facilitates numerous opportunities for interdisciplinary studies, invention, and entrepreneurship, exemplifying the role of chemistry as the central science. In testament to our stature in chemistry, seven Nobel laureates have taught or studied here, and six of our current faculty have been elected members of the National Academies.

As we push forward at the molecular frontiers, Penn Chemistry is committed to providing an open, safe, and engaging environment in which all persons are welcomed, respected, and feel a sense of belonging. We are a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students, and our strength derives from our diversity and our spirit of collaboration. My job as chair is simple: to enable our students, fellows, staff, and faculty to be the best teachers, researchers, innovators, and leaders they can be, nurturing their career paths and their joy of learning and discovery, so that collectively our department can be the very best.

– Thomas E. Mallouk