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Dawn Bonnell, Ph.D.

Vice Provost for Research, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Bonnell has been a director of the Science Center since 2016. In her capacity as Vice Provost for Research, she shapes policy and advances administrative initiatives for Penn’s $900+ million research enterprise, and she plays a leadership role in strategic planning for research and administers the development of new research facilities.

She also helps to oversee campus-wide research planning efforts, linkages between the University and industry, and the transfer of technologies from University laboratories to the public sector. In addition, she governs the research activities of Provostial Centers and Institutes, particularly those involving interdisciplinary collaboration.

Dr. Bonnell is Henry Robinson Towne Professor of Engineering and Applied Science and a member of the Bioengineering Graduate Group in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. In 2004, she became the founding director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center – created through an initial $11.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation – which brings together researchers across Penn’s schools to study the intersections of technology and biology at the nanoscale or molecular level.

An editor of seven books and an author of more than 200 papers, Dr. Bonnell was elected in 2013 to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest honors in the engineering profession; is one of only seven awardees of the Staudinger-Durrer Medal from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology; and has served as President of the American Vacuum Society and Vice President of the American Ceramic Society. Her work has been recognized by a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, the Robert B. Sosman Award and Ross Coffin Purdy Award from the American Ceramic Society, the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Michigan, and numerous other awards and prestigious national and international lectureships. Dr. Bonnell’s research focuses on the properties of surfaces, especially at the atomic scale, with wide implications for understanding the behavior of devices from biosensors to solar cells to computer processors.

She earned a Ph.D, M.S., and B.S.E. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan and studied on a Fulbright Scholarship at the Max Planck Institute in Stuttgart, Germany.