Department of Biochemistry head named

BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 28, 2005 – Peter J. Kennelly, of Blacksburg, professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been named head of the university's Department of Biochemistry by Sharron Quisenberry, dean of Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Kennelly takes over the department leadership from John Hess, who has been named interim associate dean and director for academic programs in the college.

"Dr. Kennelly brings leadership skills to the department that will allow it to continue to build excellent teaching and research programs. I'm excited about his enthusiasm and vision for the future," Quisenberry said.

Kennelly, who joined the department in 1989, "is dedicated to providing the best education to our students and challenging faculty members to excel in their individual and collaborative achievements." Hess said. "With strong support and encouragement from college leadership, the department has a solid future for growth and productivity."

"I feel very fortunate to be assuming the head position at this time," Kennelly said. "John Hess has set the department on a strong course for development and growth. Under Dean Quisenberry's leadership, the college is on the move, and I am excited to be a part of this new era in our college--We have a strong and dynamic department with very good instructional and research programs. I feel honored and privileged to be assuming a leadership position here."

Kennelly's critical assessments of data and ideas have placed him at the forefront of unraveling networks of communication at the molecular level. He has gained international recognition for his research into how cells integrate protein processes to create information-processing networks. His research group is mapping the physical and functional architecture of protein phosphorylation networks from two evolutionarily distinct prokaryotes.

A native of Hometown, Ill., he received his bachelor's degree from Illinois Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. from Purdue University. He also did postdoctoral work at the University of Washington. Kennelly joined the biochemistry faculty at Virginia Tech in 1989 and became a full professor in 1998.

He has published more than 35 research papers and 24 book chapters, reviews or other publications, several of which are addressed at career choices for students majoring in biochemistry, molecular biology, or molecular life sciences. He also worked with J. Ellis Bell of the University of Richmond to produce a website on "Planning and Preparing for a Career in the Molecular Life Sciences." This site was prepared for and hosted by the Undergraduate Affiliates Network of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

These efforts at career planning, Kennelly said, stem from his 13 years as a teacher and adviser and from his own college experiences. "When I got out of school, I was incredibly naive, so I knew there was a real need for this kind of information. I wanted to provide to today's students with a foundation that I lacked."

Kennelly also is co-author of the website, Protein Phosphorylation Site Database, which contains a searchable list of all prokaryotic proteins known to be phosphorylated on serine, threonine, or tyrosine.

He serves as an editorial adviser to the Biochemical Journal and serves on the editorial boards for the journals Analytical Biochemistry and Molecular Biotechnology. He has served on a number of committees and review panels for the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. He also is a specialist reviewer on the Life Sciences Panel for the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Consistently ranked by the National Science Foundation among the top 10 institutions in agricultural research, Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers students the opportunity to learn from some of the world's leading agricultural scientists. The college's comprehensive curriculum gives students a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. The college is a national leader in incorporating technology, biotechnology, computer applications, and other recent scientific advances into its teaching program.