Philip Skell was one of the founders of
modern carbene research. He is best known
for the “Skell Rule,” which is used to predict
how some chemical compounds will form
and has been used to assign spin states to
carbenes, which are highly reactive molecules
containing a divalent atom. Skell researched
the experimental link between stereochemistry
of carbene/alkene addition
reactions and the carbene’s electronic state.
His work has been widely used by both
chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
Skell joined the Penn State Chemistry
faculty in 1952, and he was appointed an
Evan Pugh professor of chemistry in 1974.
In 1977, Skell was elected to the National
Academy of Sciences.