Catherine L Drennan

CATHERINE L DRENNAN is a professor of chemistry and biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a professor and investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She grew up in the NY/NJ area with her father (a medical doctor), her mother (an anthropologist), and her dog (a beagle). Cathy received an AB in chemistry from Vassar College, working in the laboratory of Professor Miriam Rossi, and a PhD in biological chemistry from the University of Michigan, working in the laboratory of the late Professor Martha L Ludwig. She was also a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Douglas C Rees at the California Institute of Technology.

In 1999, she joined the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she has risen through the ranks to full Professor. Dedicated to both research and teaching, Cathy’s educational initiatives include creating free resources for educators that help students recognize the underlying chemical principles in biology and medicine (her course 5.111SC Principles of Chemical Science is available on MIT’s OpenCourseWare), and that train graduate student teaching assistants and mentors to be effective teacher–scholars. Once a high school science and drama teacher, she currently teaches Biophysical Techniques (7.71), and in the fall of 2018 will teach Introductory Biology 7.012.

Cathy’s primary research interest is the use of X–ray crystallography, electron microscopy and other biophysical methods to study the structure and mechanism of metalloproteins.  She became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor in 2006 and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in 2008.  Recent honors include being named an MIT MacVicar Faculty Fellow (2015) and receiving a University of Michigan Bicentennial Alumni Award (2017).   Cathy’s committee service includes the Searle Scholars Advisory Board (Chair, 2017-), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Society of Professors Executive Board (2017-) and the AAAS Electorate Nominating Committee for the Section on Medical Sciences (2018-2021).

Cathy lives in Newton with her husband (a BU professor), daughter (a dolphin lover) and dog (a labradoodle).