Q&A with Suzie H. Pun, new director of MolES

Filed Under: News

Suzie Pun and other faculty touring Mol ES building construction site
Pun on a tour of the MolES building in February, 2012.

Suzie H. Pun is the Washington Research Professor of Bioengineering, a fellow in the U.S. National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and now, the new director of the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute (MolES). Pun has been a major part of MolES since it opened in 2009 — contributing to the growth of research collaborations and the Ph.D. program.

MolES: How has the Institute changed and flourished since its establishment?

Pun: One wonderful change is the tremendous growth and impact of the clean energy community within MolES. The Clean Energy Institute was established in 2013, then Daniel Gamelin was awarded and runs the UW Molecular Engineering Materials Center, a National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC) in 2017. I also celebrate many new collaborations formed within MolES. I remember at the opening of MolES, Matt O’Donnell, our dean at the time who pioneered this initiative, noted that the Institute was created for interdisciplinary work at the molecular scale. He challenged us to produce co-authored, high-impact publications across different floors of the MolES building as an indication of this collaboration, and indeed many of us have since done that.

MolES: What aspects of serving as director are particularly attractive to you?

Pun: I am passionate about scientific discovery, technology development, and education. My role as director of the institute aligns with those things. For the first two, I’m hoping to facilitate collaborations amongst our MolES members and others in our scientific and industry community, both locally and beyond. For education, I want to build opportunities for our current and graduated MolES students.

MolES: You mentioned your experience as an interim director in the past. Can you share more about that time? Did it provide you with any insights or ideas for potential changes and improvements to MolES?

Pun: It was a great experience. Pat Stayton, the previous director, had the Institute running well and built a harmonious community both within the staff and faculty. I’d like to make sure we preserve and foster the sense of community by creating additional opportunities for scientific interactions.

MolES: With all the hats you currently wear, how do you think this work will complement your new role as director in MolES?

Pun: Molecular engineering encompasses all the research work in my group and over the years we’ve been able to collaborate with many of the other groups in MolES and work with Lara Gamble, director of the Molecular Analysis Facility, and other people in MAF. Through these experiences, I’ve gained an understanding and appreciation of various aspects of molecular sciences and engineering and learned how to work productively across various disciplines.

“Our MolES community of students, faculty and staff is incredible and we have many opportunities ahead,” said Pun.