Mark G. Allen named first Singh Center director

Mark G. Allen has combined insights from the worlds of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, and materials science to become a pioneer in the field of micro-electromechanical systems, as well as the technology involved in building them.

These combinations of structures, sensors, and actuators, known as MEMS, exploit the unique potential of the small scale, and are one reason Allen has been named the inaugural scientific director of the Penn’s Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology

“The connection between basic research and applied technology is at the heart of the Singh Center’s mission—to be a local, national, and global hub for generating groundbreaking nanotechnology applications,” says Penn President Amy Gutmann. “Mark Allen’s outstanding scholarship, strong industry relationships, and proven leadership abilities are among the many qualities that make him the perfect fit as the Singh Center's inaugural Scientific Director.” 

Allen’s academic appointment will be within the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), and is effective Sept. 1.

“The Singh Center for Nanotechnology will be transformative for the University,” says SEAS Dean Eduardo Glandt. “It will not only enable world-class academic research and teaching using state-of the art facilities, but also have economic impact in the region through corporate relations, entrepreneurship, and innovation.”

Allen is a Penn alumnus, receiving a B.A. in chemistry and a B.S.E. in chemical engineering and electrical engineering. He received a Ph.D. in microelectronics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1989. Allen then joined the faculty of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he currently holds the J.M. Pettit Professorship in Microelectronics. From 2007 to 2010, he was senior vice provost for research and innovation.

In 2011, Allen was named executive director of the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology, which supervises and coordinates Georgia Tech’s research activities—from nanotechnology to electronics—and manages the university’s nanotechnology infrastructure investments.

As scientific director of the Singh Center, Allen will oversee the operation of the facilities, which include a 10,000-square-foot cleanroom and a suite of characterization and fabrication laboratories. He will also serve as a polestar for Penn’s research in nanotechnology and related fields.

“In Mark Allen, we have found a researcher who is a true leader and who has demonstrated how best to use the ideas and discoveries of the basic sciences in shaping the future of nanotechnology,” says Rebecca Bushnell, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences.

The Singh Center was made possible by a $20 million gift by Krishna P. Singh. Singh is the founder, president, and chief executive officer of Holtec International in Marlton, N.J., an energy-technology company he established in 1986. He is a member of Penn's Board of Trustees and the SEAS Board of Overseers, and has served as an adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at Penn. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 1972 from Penn and a master's in engineering mechanics in 1969, also from Penn.

The Singh Center will be formally dedicated at a ceremony on Oct. 4.

Mark Allen