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Graduate Student Highlight: Joseph Persichetti

28 July 2021

Each week, the Department of Chemistry highlights a graduate student who is doing interesting and exciting work within the department. In this installment of our highlight series, we are featuring Joseph Persichetti, who is a fifth-year student in the O'Brien lab.

Joe’s research focuses on developing and applying a protocol for predicting kinetic rate constants for enzyme-catalyzed reactions using a computational workflow that includes the dynamic nature of catalysis and utilizes a hybrid level of theory to describe the chemistry in the active site. 

Outside of the lab, he is involved with the Campus Recreation Competitive Sports Twitch page; Twitch is a video game streaming platform. During the pandemic, Joe started a team that developed this page for Penn State, which has now been recognized as a standard for university presence on Twitch by other institutions. 

This week, we met virtually with Joe to discuss his life in and outside of the lab! Please enjoy our interview with Joseph Persichetti.

Question: How did you get interested in chemistry?

Answer: I always enjoyed chemistry classes in school, but it wasn't until my third year of college that I learned I could connect my passion for the medical field with my knowledge of chemistry. This has led me to pursue research with relevant biological and biomedical impacts. 

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of? 

A: I am most proud of winning the 2018 PPG Pitch Competition. This was a two-minute elevator pitch competition about my research that must be understood by a general audience. I am proud of my ability to talk about complicated scientific concepts in a digestible manner.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I grew up in Staten Island, New York, which is one of the five boroughs of New York City. Anyone who knows me probably already knows that I am a proud New Yorker.

Q: What’s your favorite way to spend a day off? 

A: The best day off for me is a day on the golf course. I have been playing golf competitively since I was five years old. Even the worst day on a golf course is still pretty great. 

Q: What’s your dream vacation? 

A: My dream vacation is more about the people I can spend it with than where it is. Somewhere with nice weather and an ocean nearby is good enough for me if I can spend it with the people that matter most. Throw in a golf course for good measure. 

Thanks to Joe for these interesting and thoughtful answers! We hope you enjoyed this interview. Stay tuned for more graduate student highlights in the weeks to come!