Awardee Interviews | Biography: Susan B. Sinnott

Susan B. Sinnott

Susan B. Sinnott, The Pennsylvania State University, “For outstanding contributions to the development and utilization of computational methods to advance atomic-scale insights into the mechanisms associated with surface chemistry, thin-film growth, and materials discovery”

Prof. Susan B. Sinnott is Professor and Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University, where she also holds a faculty appointment in the Department of Chemistry. She earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Iowa State University. She went on to be a National Research Council Postdoctoral Associate at the Naval Research Laboratory where she worked with Dr. Donald Brenner and coworkers on the development of the Reactive Empirical Bond-Order (REBO) potential.

Dr. Sinnott began her career in academia in 1995 as an Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Kentucky (UK) where she worked on the computational investigation of surfaces and nanomaterials. During this time, she received the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award in Engineering and the UK College of Engineering Tau Beta Pi and Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award, Materials Program in 1996 and 1998.

Dr. Sinnott moved to the University of Florida (UF) in 2000, where she was an Associate Professor, Professor, and Alumni Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. She worked with Dr. Simon Phillpot and others to develop the Charged-Optimized Bond Order (COMB) potentials and investigated surface and interface chemistry, with an emphasis on heterogenous systems and defective materials. She was the research advisor of 25 Ph.D., eight M.S., 29 undergraduate, and 24 high school students and advised/co-advised six postdoctoral scholars and four research scientists. Dr. Sinnott received the UF Florida Faculty Excellence Award on five occasions, was a UF Research Foundation Professor and Florida Blue Key Distinguished Professor and received the UF College of Engineering Doctoral Dissertation Mentoring Award and the UF College of Engineering Teacher/Scholar of the Year Award. In 2015 Dr. Sinnott moved to Penn State University where she investigates two-dimensional materials, metallic nanoparticle catalysts, porous materials for acid gas capture, and high-entropy oxides. Her accomplishments were recognized with a Penn State Faculty Scholar Medal in Physical Sciences in 2022.  

Dr. Sinnott is the author of 290+ technical publications and is a Fellow of the Materials Research Society, American Physical Society, American Ceramic Society, American Vacuum Society, and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a past President of the American Vacuum Society and is the Editor-in-Chief of Computational Materials Science