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Photochemist Castellano Named Goodnight Innovation Distinguished Chair

Phil Castellano in his lab on Centennial Campus
Phil Castellano is a star photochemist whose research findings have implications for fields ranging from solar energy conversion to cancer treatment.

The College of Sciences has named Felix N. “Phil” Castellano of the Department of Chemistry as its first Goodnight Innovation Distinguished Chair. The professorship was made possible by a gift from longtime NC State supporters Jim and Ann Goodnight.

Castellano is a prominent photochemist who joined the NC State faculty in 2013. His groundbreaking research focuses on how molecules behave when they’re exposed to light, and then manipulating that energized state into something useful. His findings have implications for fields ranging from solar energy conversion to cancer treatment.

“Faculty chair positions are so important because they allow us to recruit or retain outstanding scientists such as Phil Castellano,” said Bill Ditto, dean of the College of Sciences. “By making these gifts, generous donors like the Goodnights are making our college and NC State a welcoming home for the world’s most creative scientists.”

Castellano has been awarded nearly $18 million in research grants over the course of his career and currently has funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He has authored more than 170 scientific publications and delivered more than 180 invited research presentations.

He is a past winner of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, one of the most prestigious awards the foundation bestows upon young faculty in the sciences. Other honors include his recent election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a designation awarded to those who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of the chemical sciences. He has also held lectureships and invited positions at prominent universities around the world.

Jim Goodnight is CEO and a co-founder of SAS, the world’s largest privately held software company. SAS emerged from NC State’s Department of Statistics when Goodnight was on its faculty in the 1970s. The Goodnights have been generous supporters of both the College of Sciences and NC State, establishing several professorships and the Goodnight Scholars Program.