Chemical engineering faculty member named distinguished professor


By Tessa M. Pick

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Seong Kim has been named a distinguished professor of chemical engineering by the Penn State Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs for his academic contributions to the Penn State community.

The honorary title of “distinguished professor” is given to Penn State faculty members, nominated by their peers and administration, who have shown leadership in research, teaching, mentorship and service.

“Professor Kim runs one of our largest research groups, and his lab has been extraordinarily productive and impactful,” said Phillip Savage, chemical engineering department head and Walter L. Robb Family Chair. “He also takes great care of our graduate students and graduate program as associate department head.”

Since joining Penn State in 2001, Kim has received numerous honors from the University. He was awarded the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society (PSEAS) Premier Research Award in 2019 and the PSEAS Outstanding Research Award in 2014. He was appointed to the inaugural class of the Dean’s Fellows program in the College of Engineering in 2017.

Kim researches surface science and engineering, tribology, silicate glasses, plant cell walls and cellulosic nanomaterials. He is the principal investigator of the Surface Science and Materials Characterization Lab, primarily focusing on analyzing fundamental molecular mechanisms of chemical and mechanical processes that occur at the solid-gas, solid-liquid and solid-solid interfaces. His group also studies the structure-property relationships of biomaterials produced by plants and animals.

Kim’s research group has collaborated with many other disciplines across the University — including nuclear engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science, biology, biochemistry and molecular biology. The group has also worked with researchers from Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. Agricultural Research Services, North Carolina State University, University of California, University of Rhode Island and University of Texas, El Paso.

Kim received his doctoral degree in chemistry from Northwestern University and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.

“It is a great honor to be recognized as a distinguished professor, but it would have not been possible to get to here without all the hard work and dedication of my students,” Kim said. “So, this honor must be shared with all those ‘distinguished’ students.”


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College of Engineering Media Relations

headshot of male professor in business attire

Seong Kim, associate department head and professor of chemical engineering, has been named a distinguished professor of chemical engineering. IMAGE: PENN STATE COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING