Cathy Murphy to lead Beckman Institute as interim director


The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology has announced that Cathy Murphy, the Larry R. Faulkner Endowed Chair in Chemistry and head of the Department of Chemistry, has been named the interim director of the Institute. She will begin the position Aug. 16, pending Board of Trustees approval.

Murphy is a highly regarded scientist, experienced administrator, and even met Arnold Beckman when she was a postdoctoral researcher at the California Institute of Technology's Beckman Institute.

Murphy will succeed Nadya Mason, who announced in July that she will become the dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago.

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation will conduct a national search for Beckman's next permanent director. From the Speech Accessibility Project to the Molecule Maker Lab and everywhere in between, the Beckman Institute’s trademark brand of barrier-breaking research is thriving and will continue to do so under Murphy's leadership.

In June 2020, Murphy became the first woman to serve as Head of the Department of Chemistry at Illinois, and that same year, Murphy became the first woman to receive the American Chemical Society Award in Inorganic Chemistry in 2020. She has also been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry, and she has been senior editor for the Journal of Physical Chemistry and deputy editor of the Journal of Physical Chemistry C.

Professor Murphy earned two bachelor degrees at the U of I, one in chemistry and one in bio-chemistry, completed her PhD in 1990 at the University of Wisconsin and her post-doctoral work at the California Institute of Technology before joining the faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of South Carolina in 1993. She was the first female faculty member on the tenure track there, but in August 2009, came back to the U of I, joining the faculty in the Department of Chemistry. She is also affiliated with Bioengineering, Materials Science & Engineering, and the Micro and Nanotechnology Lab on campus.