Patrick Vaccaro appointed Irénée du Pont Professor of Chemistry

Vaccaro’s research seeks to unravel fundamental aspects of molecular behavior.
Patrick Vaccaro
Patrick Vaccaro

Patrick Vaccaro, whose research seeks to unravel fundamental aspects of molecular behavior, was recently appointed the Irénée du Pont Professor of Chemistry, effective immediately.

He is a member of Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) in the Department of Chemistry.

Vaccaro’s research probes targeted physical properties and chemical propensities of molecules. In his ongoing experiments, he uses linear and nonlinear laser spectroscopy to reveal key features within the ground-/excited-state potential energy surfaces of diverse species. When combined with detailed computational and theoretical analyses, such measurements afford a trenchant glimpse of phenomena that permeate the entire fabric of chemistry and impact upon related disciplines, including proton transfer, hydrogen bonding, tunneling/reaction dynamics, non-adiabatic interactions, and chirality. This work has led to new spectroscopic methods — which were first developed and implemented in Vaccaro’s lab — that have wide-ranging applications across the sciences.

His publications have appeared in top journals in his field, including the Journal of Physical Chemistry, Journal of Chemical Physics, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Angewandte Chemie, and many others. Vaccaro’s work has been supported by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation, and he was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society in recognition of the impact of his work.

Vaccaro also is a skilled teacher and mentor who has won Yale’s most prestigious awards for teaching and mentoring, including the DeVane Medal for Outstanding Scholarship & Undergraduate Teaching, the Dylan Hixon ’88 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Natural Sciences, and the Yale Graduate School Mentoring Award in the Natural Sciences. Most recently, he was the recipient of the inaugural Wasserman Prize for Excellence in Teaching of Undergraduate Chemistry. Vaccaro’s teaching at Yale spans junior-level lectures and laboratories in physical chemistry, as well as advanced graduate-level courses on instrumentation and quantum phenomena.

His work as a pedagogue extends beyond the university: he is actively involved in community outreach efforts at primary and secondary schools through the “Yale Science on Saturdays” program and has offered popular laser-laboratory tours through “Pathways to Science.”

Beyond Yale, Vaccaro is a recognized leader in his field, who regularly convenes symposia and conferences with scholars from around the world. He presently serves on the International Scientific Advisory Board for Chiroptical Conferences and on the editorial board for the journal Chirality.

Vaccaro earned a B.A. at the University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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