Barbara Garrison, 40, was recently named head of the department of chemistry at Penn State University, becoming the first woman ever to achieve that status at the school. Garrison, a theoretical chemist who has written more than 100 publications and has given nearly 100 invited talks, is widely known for her models of the interaction of energetic particles with solids and has worked extensively with supercomputers. Recently, her modeling methods have been successful in mimicking thin-film growth of single-crystal silicon. The results predicted by her models were confirmed through the use of the scanning tunneling microscope.

Garrison, whose appointment was effective July 17, takes command of the Penn State chemistry department at a time when “we see the traditional areas of chemistry and their related subjects to be rapidly blurring.

“The challenge, says Garrsion “is to find new mechanisms for providing a strong educational foundation while still allowing students...

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