A Message from the Chair

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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 and the School of Engineering at Penn facilitates numerous opportunities for interdisciplinary studies, 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 Academy of Sciences.


As we push forward at the molecular frontiers, Penn Chemistry is committed to providing an open and engaging environment in which all persons are welcome and respected. We are a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students, and our strength derives from our diversity. We value the highest ideals of respect and dignity in our daily interactions as we maintain an environment that is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and intimidation. Whoever you are and wherever you are on your journey of scholarship in the molecular sciences, you are welcome here at Penn Chemistry.


- David W. Christianson

Department of Chemistry

231 S. 34 Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6323

215.898.8317 voice | 215.573.2112 fax | web@chem.upenn.edu