The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Huck Institutes welcomes new faculty members Igor Aronson, Kevin Hockett, and Joyce Jose

Please join us in welcoming Drs. Aronson, Hockett, and Jose to the Huck Institutes.

Igor Aronson

Igor Aronson, a Huck Chair Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry and Mathematics, will lead the Active Biomaterials Laboratory at Penn State.

Dr. Aronson comes to Penn State and the Huck Institutes from Argonne National Laboratory, where he held the position of senior scientist and theory group leader positions at the Materials Science Division of Argonne. 

Dr. Igor Aronson. Credit: Argonne National Laboratory.

He also held joint appointments at the Northwestern University Graduate School and the Department of Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics, and at the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago.

Aronson's main expertise is in biophysics, materials science, and applied mathematics. He has established a multi-faceted approach to active bio-inspired materials, where experiment, theory, and simulations are integrated within one interdisciplinary research group. Aronson is interested in mathematical modeling and experimental characterization of a broad class of biological and synthetic systems where metabolism and other non-equilibrium processes lead to the onset of self-organization and collective behavior. His research ranges from mathematical modeling of cell motility and collective cell migration, to experimental and theoretical studies of active biocomposites represented by swimming bacteria and biological liquid crystals, to the design of active ink for 3D printing.

At Penn State, Aronson will lead the Active Biomaterials Laboratory, which will focus on a cross-disciplinary research agenda at the interface of bioengineering, materials science, applied mathematics, and chemistry.


Kevin Hockett

Kevin Hockett, a Lloyd Huck Early Career Professor and assistant professor of microbial ecology at Penn State, fills the first position offered in Penn State’s Microbiome Initiative cluster hire initiated by the Huck Institutes and the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Dr. Hockett comes to Penn State and the Huck Institutes following a USDA NIFA Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Kevin Hockett. Credit: Kevin Hockett, University of Arizona.

A native Oregonian, Hockett received his bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Oregon State University, and a doctorate in microbiology from the University of California, Berkeley. He has a strong commitment to teaching and mentoring. At Berkeley, he was an instructor in a synthetic course on the application of molecular technology for solving environmental problems. He further honed his pedagogical skills by teaching as an adjunct instructor at Pima Community College, a Hispanic Serving Institution in Tucson, Arizona, in addition to mentoring numerous students in laboratory-based microbiology.

Hockett’s research program focuses on the genetics and ecology of specialized antibiotics called “bacteriocins,” used by plant-associated bacteria to compete against each other; the evolutionary history of these microbe-microbe and plant-microbe interactions; and ways of using these bacteria-produced antibotics to develop new methods to control plant pathogens. He uses an integrative approach, combining bacterial genetics, genomics, transcriptomics, phylogenetics, and molecular biology in his research.


Joyce Jose

Joyce Jose, an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, joins the faculty of the Huck Institutes and the Eberly College of Science.

Dr. Jose comes to Penn State and the Huck Institutes from Purdue University, where she was an assistant research scientist in the Department of Biological Sciences and the operations manager for the biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) select agent labs.

Dr. Joyce Jose. Credit: Elizabeth N. Timblin.

Jose received her bachelor’s degree in zoology, with emphases on botany and chemistry, from Newman College in Thodupuzha, Kerala, India; her master’s in biotechnology from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala, India; and her doctorate in biotechnology from Madurai Kamaraj University, Tamil Nadu, India. She completed her postdoctoral research with Dr. Richard Kuhn at the Markey Center for Structural Biology at Purdue, where she also held a position as a research associate.

Jose’s expertise is in molecular virology and structure-function studies, specifically those involved in the replication and assembly of alphaviruses and flaviviruses. She also specializes in analysis of virus-induced structures and cytoskeleton modification in mammalian host and insect vectors using high-resolution live cell imaging and electron microscopy, and in working with viral determinants of neurotropism and persistence in BSL-3 pathogens. Jose’s lab is interested in understanding the pathogenesis of mosquito-borne alphaviruses and flaviviruses such as dengue, Zika, West Nile and chikungunya virus. Using tools from reverse genetics, molecular biology, and microscopy, the Jose Lab investigates the virus-host and virus-vector interactions involved in virus entry, modification of the host system for virus replication, and dissemination, with the long-term goal of understanding the host molecular pathways that impact virus lifecycle in order to develop new strategies to control and combat viral pathogens.


Welcome, Igor, Kevin, and Joyce!