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Kayla Hauer named 2024 Department of Chemistry Commencement Marshal

3 May 2024
Kayla Hauer

The Department of Chemistry is pleased to announce that graduating chemistry major and undergraduate research ambassador Kayla Hauer has been selected as the 2024 departmental commencement marshal. 

Student marshals play an integral role in commencement ceremonies; they represent their college or department and lead their fellow graduates in the procession to enter the commencement hall. The title of student marshal is one of the highest honors an undergraduate student can earn at Penn State. Hauer was selected for this important role in recognition of her exemplary academic record and contributions to the chemistry community at Penn State. 

David Boehr, associate head of undergraduate education in the department of chemistry, stated, “I am very pleased that Kayla was named our student marshal. She has had tremendous success in her research and academics, while making important contributions to our educational mission as both learning and teaching assistants and being involved with the Nittany Chemical Society through outreach events and fundraising. Kayla was an outstanding choice!" 

Hauer is currently a member in the lab of Beth Elacqua, assistant professor of chemistry, where her research focused on the synthesis and ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) of a paracyclophanediene toward conjugated donor-acceptor polymers. This project is building off the work of a 2019 paper published by Dr. Elacqua, and the goal was to investigate the role of steric bulk on ROMP. Hauer's specific role in the project was to synthesize and polymerize the di-methoxy monomer to see how the symmetric and unbranched nature of the alkoxy groups affected ROMP.   

Hauer worked closely in the lab with chemistry graduate student Benton Bickerton, who said, “Over the last two years, Kayla has grown into a confident leader and team player, as demonstrated by her willingness to help other lab members learn chemistry, troubleshoot issues, and propose ideas. She has devoted countless hours synthesizing, purifying, and characterizing a new monomer scaffold to polymerize that came to fruition during her final year while excelling in her rigorous coursework, balancing graduate school applications, and being a teaching assistant. Her determination to excel in research and academics is deserving of being the chemistry marshal, and I am proud of her accomplishment.” 

Outside of the lab, Hauer has been an active member of Nittany Chemical Society (NCS), an undergraduate research ambassador, a learning and teaching assistant for courses like CHEM 110, CHEM 130, CHEM 212, and PSU 16. During her summer and winter breaks, she would volunteer at her local SPCA dog shelter. 


Kayla Hauer


“Being named as the chemistry student marshal feels like the culmination of four years of hard work,” added Hauer. “I am honored to be able to represent the department at graduation and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my peers and professors.” 

After graduation, Hauer plans to pursue a doctoral degree in chemistry at the University of Virginia. Her overall career goal is to work in the pharmaceutical industry.  

“Working with someone as dedicated as Kayla has been an honor, and I am proud of all she has done in our Penn State community,” said Beth Elacqua, assistant professor of chemistry. “The University of Virginia is truly lucky to have someone of Kayla’s aptitude joining their department. I cannot wait to see all she accomplishes in her career!” 

Media Contacts
Kathryn Harlow
Chemistry Communications Coordinator