Anthony San Pietro joined the faculty at IU Bloomington in 1968 as chair of the botany department, which soon became the plant sciences department. He was appointed distinguished professor of plant biochemistry in 1975, and chaired the plant sciences department until it became part of the Department of Biology in 1977. He was appointed science adviser to the Office of the President at IU in 1980, elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1983, and retired from IU in 1992. After retirement and until 2003, San Pietro participated in the Faculty and Staff for Student Excellence (FASE) Program to tutor, support, and mentor needy IU students. He also helped to create the Alliance for Minority Participation in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering, a joint program between five Indiana colleges and universities and five historically black colleges and universities.
San Pietro graduated from New York University in 1942, and was inducted into the U.S. Army the fall of that year. He was placed in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) (1943-1944), and studied electrical engineering at Penn State College (now Penn State University). After completing his training, he served with the biochemistry group at the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico (1944-1946). After the war, he began his graduate study at Columbia University, where he received his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1951. His ten-year career at Johns Hopkins University began as a postdoc in biochemistry in 1952, becoming an assistant professor in biology at JHU and the McCollum-Pratt Institute in 1954, and an associate professor in 1959. During the period before he joined the faculty at IU, he worked in Yellow Springs, Ohio, at the Kettering Research Laboratory doing research on photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation and teaching undergraduate biochemistry at Antioch College.
San Pietro passed away on September 13, 2008, in Bloomington, Indiana.