Penn State’s Denise Okafor Wins the Mason Award for Women in the Chemical Sciences

C. Denise Okafor, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and of chemistry at Pennsylvania State University has been selected as a recipient of the 2023 Marion Milligan Mason Award for Women in the Chemical Sciences from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Mason Award commemorates the late chemist Marion Tuttle Milligan Mason, who wanted to support the advancement of women in the chemical sciences. The Mason Award is a highly competitive award that attracts applications from the very best early-career female chemists across the country. First awarded in 2015, the Mason Award has funded the research of 18 scientists who represent a diverse range of specialties within the chemical sciences.

Dr. Okafor’s research combines computational and experimental investigations to develop a fundamental understanding of how protein function is regulated. She investigates the structural mechanisms of signaling and regulation in protein complexes and uses simulations to determine how conformational dynamics of proteins are altered in different functional states.

Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State in 2020, Dr. Okafor was a postdoctoral researcher at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta from 2015 to 2019.

Dr. Okafor earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical chemistry at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She holds a master’s degree in chemistry and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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