Carnegie Mellon University
August 17, 2022

Bruce Armitage Selected Head of Department of Chemistry

By Jocelyn Duffy

Jocelyn Duffy
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Bruce Armitage, professor of chemistry, has been named the head of Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Chemistry, effective Aug. 1, 2022. A CMU faculty member for 25 years, Armitage is a respected and innovative researcher and teacher.

"This is an exciting time to become Chemistry's department head. With the future of science initiative, which includes a new building for science, the first academic cloud lab and support for the research of the future, there are many opportunities for the Department of Chemistry to do things that aren't being done anywhere else," said Armitage. "I look forward to leading the department into this future and provide our faculty, staff, students and alumni with opportunities for growth and connection."

Armitage's research lies at the interface of organic chemistry, biological sciences and materials sciences to create new applications for molecular recognition, which allows molecules to bind one another with high affinity and selectivity. In particular, Armitage and his research group develop synthetic nucleic acid molecules called peptide nucleic acids to recognize and interact with DNA and RNA. This research has important implications for understanding and manipulating biological processes and could lead to improved diagnosis and treatment of genetic and infectious diseases.

Armitage has played a significant role in bringing the first academic cloud lab to Carnegie Mellon, contributing to the early proof-of-concept research that was conducted with the university's partners at the alumni-founded Emerald Cloud Lab. The Carnegie Mellon University Cloud Lab is scheduled to open in 2023, and will be a remote-controlled, artificial intelligence-driven robotic facility that will accelerate the speed of scientific discovery, spur collaboration and democratize science.

Armitage's research accomplishments are matched by his impact in the classroom. He regularly teaches organic chemistry at Carnegie Mellon and an elective course on the chemical basis of addiction that he designed and  has grown to an enrollment of nearly 60 students. He has received the William and Frances Ryan Award for Meritorious Teaching, CMU's highest teaching award, and the Mellon College of Science's Julius Ashkin Teaching Award. He has supervised 31 graduate students, seven postdoctoral associates and more than 60 undergraduate researchers.

Armitage earned his doctoral degree from the University of Arizona. He completed National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowships at the University of Illinois and Georgia Tech and an NSF International Research Fellowship at the University of Copenhagen before joining the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 1997.  

Armitage succeeds Professor Linda Peteanu, who served as department head since 2017.