Dennis Dougherty Selected As Next Chair of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Dennis Dougherty, Caltech's George Grant Hoag Professor of Chemistry and director of the Beckman Institute, has been named as the new chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (CCE). He begins his term on July 1, succeeding outgoing chair Jacqueline Barton, the John G. Kirkwood and Arthur A. Noyes Professor of Chemistry, who has overseen the division since 2009.

Barton says she wishes Dougherty every success in leading the division.

"I know he’ll be an outstanding CCE Chair," she says.

Dougherty received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania in 1974 and his PhD from Princeton in 1978. He began his association with Caltech as an assistant professor of chemistry in 1979. He became an associate professor in 1985, a full professor in 1989, and the Hoag Professor in 2002.

Among the honors he has received are the Richard Badger Teaching Award, the ASCIT Excellence in Teaching award, and the Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching, Caltech's highest teaching honor. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2009.

Dougherty's research has focused on the chemistry of neuroscience—looking at how neuroreceptors and ion channels behave chemically in the brain. Drugs that interact with these structures aim to treat disorders like Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia.

"Jackie's done a great job, and I'm inheriting a division that's in good shape," Dougherty says. "Now we have to keep pushing the division toward the future. The science in CCE is central to many of the key initiatives on campus. Whether it's energy and sustainability, translational research, neuroscience, or biomedical engineering, the highly collaborative scientists in CCE have a big role to play."

Dougherty says that working with the division's younger scholars will also be a priority for him.

"We've really thrived by having great grad students in chemistry, chemical engineering, and biochemistry. And one of the things that will be fun is working with our new young faculty to make sure that they have what they need to flourish and excel, because they're the future of the division."

Written by Emily Velasco

Emily Velasco