Annual Meeting

Kennelly considers his fortune of three careers

He won the ASBMB'S 2024 William C. Rose Award for Exemplary Contributions to Education
Hailey Reiss
Nov. 10, 2023

Peter Kennelly has had three careers: as a researcher, an administrator and an educator.

“It’s so much fun to start a new career in your 50s in education,” Kennelly, a professor of biochemistry at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, said. “I’m 67 years old, and I smile at work. I consider myself lucky.”

Peter Kennelly
Peter Kennelly

Kennelly is the winner of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s 2024 William C. Rose Award for Exemplary Contributions to Education.

Kennelly has been a member of the ASBMB since 1986. He served on both the Education and Professional Development Committee and Membership Committee for years, and he chaired each. He also has been a member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry’s editorial board.

He maintains his ties to the EPD and plays an important role in the education community today. Most recently, he contributed to the Inclusive Community for the Assessment of Biochemistry and Molecular Learning.

Dennis R. Dean, a colleague at Virginia Tech, nominated Kennelly for the award. He credited Kennelly with “creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for our students.”

Kennelly contributed to the development of programs that are now pillars of the ASBMB education portfolio — the accreditation program and the ASBMB exam.

John T. Tansey of Otterbein University, in a letter of support, commended Kennelly for his “vision of what biochemistry education should be, and leading and organizing ASBMB to help make that vision a reality.”

In another letter of support, Paul Black of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln noted that Kennelly’s significant contributions to education were due in part to his “ability to provide leadership and develop teams of individuals with a common goal of biochemistry and molecular biology education excellence.”

While Kennelly may have provided leadership to ASBMB’s educational efforts, he believes the Rose Award isn’t his alone. “I am the vessel for hundreds of people who have contributed to education along the way,” Kennelly said. “This is an award for the team, the colleagues, the folks who I’ve worked with over the years.”

Individuality as a superpower

Pete Kennelly, a department head twice over, said he hopes to encourage both students and educators to embrace a new mindset when it comes to learning — one that challenges the unconscious stereotype of what makes a successful student.

“Individuality is what makes for discovery, not IQ,” Kennelly said. He seeks to empower students and faculty members by emphasizing the value inherent in their unique perspectives, by asking questions others have not.

Kennelly also said he hopes to highlight the benefits of ASBMB membership and speak to the value of the accreditation program. He aims to encourage undergraduate students to become members of the ASBMB and upgrade their membership as they move on to the next step in their careers.

He added that the ASBMB can help to empower individuals, explaining that it is the volunteer efforts of individuals working in conjunction with the society that allows voices and ideas to be organized, amplified and connected.

2024 ASBMB award winners

Phillips turns parasite’s metabolic weakness into hope for human health
Herbert Tabor Research Award: Margaret Phillips

Ando's pioneering journey: From physics to structural enzymology
Mildred Cohn Young Investigator Award: Nozomi Ando

Stoddard changes mentoring practices in academia
Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award: Shana Stoddard

For Wolfson, every classroom is a laboratory
ASBMB Sustained Leadership Award: Adele Wolfson

Balla leaves no phosphoinositide unturned
Avanti Award in Lipids: Tamas Balla

From virology to immunology, Wu focuses on structure
Bert & Natalie Vallee Award in Biomedical Science: Hao Wu

Stillman charts the path of genome replication
Earl And Thressa Stadtman Distinguished Scientist Award: Bruce Stillman

In failure, Simcox finds a way to learn
Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator in Lipid Research Award: Judith Simcox

Roos’ career pivot to maximize impact
Alice and C.C. Wang Award in Molecular Parasitology: David S. Roos

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Hailey Reiss

Hailey Reiss is the ASBMB’s former undergraduate education coordinator. She holds a B.S. with honors in immunology and infectious disease from Pennsylvania State University’s Schreyer Honors College.

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