R. Lee Penn
November 16, 2021 at 3:00PM PST
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Professor Penn leads a world-class, interdisciplinary research program and is a national leader in the fields of nanoscience, crystal growth, materials chemistry, and environmental chemistry. Their interdisciplinary and highly collaborative research focuses on nanoparticles and particularly their mechanisms of growth and dissolution, and the environmental implications of those phenomena. This research work has been published in a range of scientific journals, including the Journal of Physical Chemistry, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Green Chemistry, Geochemical Transactions, Journal of Crystal Growth, Environmental Science & Technology, ACS Nano, and Nature Materials.
Penn is an exceptional teacher. A member of the University's Academy of Distinguished Teachers, major teaching accolades include the CSE's George Taylor Award for Teaching, and the University's Morse-Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education.
Service to the scientific community and outreach to underrepresented groups in the sciences are priorities for Professor Penn. At the national level, this includes serving as Program Chair and Division Chair of the ACS Geochemistry Division. For the department, Penn served as founding chair of the chemistry's Diversity Committee, and on the Space Committee, Graduate Curriculum Committee, Tenure Committee, Fellowship Committee, and Diversity of Views and Experiences (DOVE) Fellowships Committee. Penn serves on the Electron Microscopy Management Committee, working to ensure the quality training for and best use of the college's transmission electron microscopy facilities. Outreach activities include Penn's Microscopy Camp, the Women in Science & Engineering's Cool Chemistry program, and the college's Energy & U program. They recently received the George W. Taylor Award for Distinguished Service, honored for their outstanding service to the University, scientific community, and profession.
Penn is an active and committed advocate for marginalized communities. They have become an effective instructor and facilitator for workshops addressing topics from intersectionality, bullying, implicit bias, micro-aggressions, serving as effective allies, LGBTQ+ identities, gender equity, and more. They share this knowledge and expertise, giving lectures and leading workshops nationally. This advocacy also includes serving as adviser to the UMN Chapter of National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChe), serving as informal adviser and mentor to the Out in Science and Engineering (o-STEM) student group, and mentoring several gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (GLBTQ) identified students studying science, technology, engineering and math through the University's Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life year-long mentoring program.
In addition, they are also a mental health advocate.
This work has garnered a Community Excellence Award from the University of Minnesota's Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life, Charlotte Striebel Equity Award from the University Office for Equity and Diversity's Women's Center, and the Breaking the Silence Award from the University of Minnesota's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Ally Programs Office.
Professor Penn joined the Department of Chemistry faculty as an assistant professor in 2001, was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2008, and to full professor in May 2015. Penn earned a bachelor degree in chemistry from Beloit College in 1992, and master's degree in 1994 and doctorate in 1998 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before coming to the University of Minnesota, Penn was an adjunct faculty member at Towson University, and a post-doctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins University. Penn is an ACS Fellow.