the highest distinction the alumni association can bestow, this award honors alumni who have enhanced the prestige of the university by virtue of their character, integrity, and nationally recognized personal accomplishments.
Name: John Golbeck
Employer: The Pennsylvania State University and Freie Universtitat Berlin
Job Title: Professor of Chemistry
JOHN GOLBECK ’71 earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at Valparaiso University and in 1976 completed a doctoral degree in biological chemistry at Indiana University. From 1976 to 1985, Golbeck worked as a research scientist, senior scientist, and group leader at Martin Marietta Laboratories, where he studied basic mechanisms in photosynthesis. In 1985, Golbeck began his academic career, serving as a professor of chemistry at Portland State University from 1985 to 1990, as an adjunct professor at Oregon Graduate Institute from 1987 to 1990, and as a professor of biochemistry and professor of chemistry at the University of Nebraska from 1990 to 1995. In 1996, Golbeck joined the faculty at Penn State, which awarded him the Daniel R. Tershak Faculty Teaching Award in 2006. During sabbatical leaves from Martin Marietta Labs, the University of Nebraska, and Penn State, Golbeck worked as a visiting associate professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, as a research scientist at the Centre de Saclay near Paris, France, and finally as a visiting professor in the physics department at the Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany. He currently divides his time between Penn State and Freie Universität, where he is engaged in photosynthesis research that will result in the replacement of carbon fossil fuels with clean, hydrogen-based and renewable, carbon-based fuels. Golbeck has published more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles and one textbook chapter, and also is the editor of a graduate-level textbook. He provides service to his community as a member of the State College Board of Health, and to his scientific community as secretary of the International Society for Photosynthesis Research. In addition, Golbeck has served his alma mater as a member of the Advisory Board for the VU Department of Chemistry.