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Robert D. Bent Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering: Dennis Discher

November 15, 2011, Volume 58, No. 12


Penn Engineering announced that Dennis E. Discher has been named the Robert D. Bent Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Dr. Discher joined Penn Engineering in 1996 following a postdoctoral position as a US National Science Foundation International Fellow at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis, and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, for studies of cell membrane physics and splicoform function.

Dr. Discher holds secondary appointments in bioengineering and mechanical engineering and applied mechanics, and he is a member of the Graduate Groups in Cell and Molecular Biology, Pharmacology, and Physics.

Dr. Discher is a leading scholar in soft matter and physicochemical approaches to cell and molecular biology. He has coauthored more than 150 publications with over 10,000 citations that range in topic from matrix elasticity effects on stem cells and mass spectrometry approaches to protein folding to selfassembling polymers applied to disease, with papers in Science, Cell, PNAS, and Nature Nanotechnology. His group’s paper on stem cells in Cell is a notable top-5 cited paper over the last five years for the journal. In 1999, Dr. Discher was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from the National Science Foundation (Almanac March 28, 2000), designating him as one of the nation’s most promising scientists and engineers. Additional honors and service include the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Award from Germany’s Humboldt Foundation and membership on the Board of Reviewing Editors for Science.

The Robert D. Bent Professorship was established in 1978 by a grant from the Atlantic Richfield Foundation to honor Mr. Bent, an alumnus of chemical engineering who served as a member of the Board of Overseers for the (then) College of Engineering and Applied Science. The two previous holders of the Robert D. Bent Professorship are Professor Emeritus John A. Quinn, and Professor and Dean of Engineering Eduardo D. Glandt.

Almanac - November 15, 2011, Volume 58, No. 12