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Student Awards

BMMB students are eligible and competitive for several Departmental, College, and University annual awards.

Department Awards

Paul M. Althouse Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Each year the department recognizes the outstanding teaching of a BMMB graduate assistant by presenting the Althouse Teaching Assistant Award. Awardees are selected by the Graduate Affairs Committee based upon student evaluations and the evaluation of the supervising instructor for the course taught.


Richard L. and Norma L. McCarl Graduate Scholarship Endowment in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology (BMMB)

The purpose of this scholarship is to provide recognition and financial assistance to the outstanding graduate students enrolled or planning to enroll in the BMMB graduate degree program.  The McCarl Graduate Scholarship Endowment in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology is a one-time academic award and shall not be renewed. Consideration for scholarship is given to a full-time graduate student enrolled or planning to enroll in the BMMB graduate program with preference given to all graduate students working with a biochemistry faculty member or a faculty member doing biochemical research.


Robert T. Simpson Graduate Student Award for Innovative Research

The Simpson family have endowed the above award, for which any graduate student working in the laboratory of a BMB faculty member is eligible. The award is given to a student who has undertaken risky or innovative research. An example might be where a graduate student was offered by their advisor a sure-fire project or a risky one, chose the risky one, and succeeded. Another example might be where a student works on the project chosen by the advisor, but works on a riskier project on the side as well, and succeeds. Or perhaps the student might have simply persuaded the advisor to let them take a shot at a risky project of their design from the beginning. In summary, the student should have taken a considerable chance, risked failure and consequences, but succeeded. The award will be made annually at the Simpson Lecture.


Fred Wedler Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award

The Wedler Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award is given to the student whose dissertation is judged to be the best, based upon evaluation criteria given to the student’s dissertation committee. All students defending a BMMB Ph.D. dissertation are automatically considered for this award.


Eberly College of Science Awards

Paul Berg Prize in Molecular Biology

Each year the Eberly College of Science awards the Paul Berg Prize in Molecular Biology to an outstanding graduate student completing their first or second year of graduate study in the area of molecular biology. The exceptional achievements of Paul Berg in the field of molecular biology bestow considerable prestige to this prize, which typically consists of a certificate and appropriate scientific books, journals, memberships or travel expenses. The student is nominated by their advisor, and decisions are made by a college-wide committee based upon academic and research achievements while at Penn State.


Graduate School Awards

Alumni Association Dissertation Award

The Alumni Association Dissertation Award provides funding and recognition to outstanding full-time doctoral students who have passed their comprehensive exams and have received approval of the dissertation topic. This award is considered to be among the most prestigious available to Penn State graduate students and recognizes outstanding achievement in scholarship and professional accomplishment. Nominations are solicited from doctoral programs at Penn State and are forwarded to a Graduate School selection committee via the student’s academic college. From the pool of qualified nominations, a minimum of two awards of $5,000 are made for each of the following categories: Fine Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Physical and Computational Sciences, Life and Health Sciences, and Engineering. Funds for this award will not replace existing college or departmental support and will be disbursed directly into student accounts.

  • Recipients, 2015 - Present
  • Recipients, 2008 - 2014
    • 2013: Laura Dassama - Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology
    • 2012: Zhenfeng Liu - Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology
    • 2008: Wei Jiang - Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology
  • Recipients, 2002 - 2007
    • 2007: Julia A. Maresca - Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology
    • 2006: Robert M. Cicchiool - Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology
    • 2005: Kathryn L. Huisinga - Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology
    • 2004: Lana Saleh - Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology
    • 2003: Yumiko Sakuragi - Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology
    • 2002: Shilpa Mahta - Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology