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College Leadership

The College of Biological Sciences leadership team works to advance the College's education, reserearch and outreach mission.

Please visit the Dean's Office directory for information on who to contact to schedule meetings with college leadership and a listing of units within the Dean's Office.

Valery Forbes

Dean of the College of Biological Sciences

Valery Forbes, DeanThe dean of the College of Biological Sciences works with faculty, staff, students and other key stakeholders to create a unified vision for the College and provides strategic leadership to advance the overall quality, reputation, stature and aspirational goals of CBS. The dean is responsible for the effective oversight and administration of the college, including, but not limited to, recruiting and retaining distinguished scholars and outstanding students; managing the allocation of the College’s fiscal, human and capital resources; setting direction and structure for the College’s curricular and scholarly efforts to foster and promote exceptional academic degree programs and research pursuits; planning, evaluating and overseeing academic programs; instituting and managing promotion and tenure guidelines for faculty; garnering support from college alumni and from internal and external stakeholders, including non-profit and for-profit sectors, government and educational organizations; and leading energetic efforts to secure philanthropic support, cultivating development opportunities with a broad array of constituents.

Valery Forbes was appointed dean of the College of Biological Sciences in July, 2015. She received her Ph.D. from the University of New York-Stony Brook. Before becoming dean of the College of Biological Sciences, Forbes served as director of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and as founding chair of the Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change at Roskilde University in Denmark.

Tom Hays

Associate Dean for Research

Tom Hays, Associate Dean for ResearchThe associate dean for research is responsible for the recruitment and retention of excellent researchers by developing an active and diverse research community that can span institutional boundaries effectively. In addition, this position identifies new research opportunities that have potential for significant growth and collaborates with the Office of Technology Commercialization to ensure that systems are in place to maximize appropriate opportunities for the commercialization of research. The associate dean for research also works with faculty to secure appropriate pre- and post-award institutional support for major research programs.

Tom Hays is a professor of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development. He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The Hays’ laboratory is applying genetic, molecular and biochemical approaches in Drosophila to study the molecular regulation of motor proteins and intercellular transport.

Clarence Lehman

General Advisor to the Dean

Clarence Lehman, Associate Dean for Graduate EducationThe general advisor to the dean works closely with the directors of our field stations to better coordinate research activities and develop long-term strategies to sustain research, education and outreach efforts. This position also provides proposal assistance to CBS faculty, act as government relations liaison and assist with strategic initiatives.

Clarence Lehman is an adjunct professor of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. His research interests include theoretical ecology and computation in biology, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and habitat restoration.

Nikki Letawsky Shultz

Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and International Programs

Nikki Letawsky Shultz

The assistant dean for student affairs and International Programs develops, implements and manages plans to support and enhance the undergraduate student experience. Through providing programmatic and administrative leadership for CBS Student Services, this position oversees undergraduate academic advising, career development, student engagement and recruitment.The assistant dean develops strategies and manages programs designed to increase CBS undergraduate participation in learning abroad.

Nicole Letawsky Shultz received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Her research interests include student success at research universities and the career development of intercollegiate student-athletes. Nikki is a recipient of the University of Minnesota's President's Award for Outstanding Services and the National Association of Academic Advisors Outstanding Administrator Award. 

Leslie Schiff

Director of Undergraduate Initiatives

Leslie Schiff, Director of Undergraduate InitiativesThe director of undergraduate initiatives is responsible for continued efforts to infuse disciplinary writing practices throughout the CBS undergraduate curriculum by promoting Writing Enriched Curriculum (WEC) and Writing Intensive (WI) course work. This position also serves as liaison with the University Honors Program and works with faculty who are interested in creating new liberal education courses.

Leslie Schiff is a professor of Microbiology and also serves as associate dean for university curriculum through the Office of Undergraduate Education. Leslie received her Ph.D. from Tufts University. Her research interests include virus entry and translational control, as well as microbiology education and communication and writing in STEM fields.

John Ward

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education

John Ward, Associate Dean for Undergraduate EducationThe associate dean for undergraduate education manages development and coordination of innovative, longitudinal curricula across CBS in basic sciences education. This position oversees the development of programs for assessment of student learning and works with faculty to improve CBS teaching. In addition, the associate dean for undergraduate education collaborates with educational leaders to coordinate the integration of academic and information technology to support undergraduate biological sciences education and faculty development. This role also supervises the assistant dean for student affairs and international initiatives.

John Ward is a professor of Plant and Microbial Biology. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. Research in the Ward Lab focuses on the function of transporters, pumps and channels in plants. He uses the tools of molecular biology, electrophysiology and genetics to study membrane protein structure/function and transgenic approaches to understand the roles of genes encoding membrane proteins in plants.

Carrie Wilmot

Associate Dean for Graduate Education

Carrie WilmotThe associate dean for graduate education maintains oversight and assessment of strategies to improve the quality and diversity of CBS graduate programs. This position coordinates the directors of graduate studies and is responsible for oversight of special programs for graduate students, including workshops, social gatherings and interdepartmental seminars. In collaboration with the associate deans for research and undergraduate education, the associate dean for graduate education helps develop programs for bridging transitions such as developing a viable post-baccalaureate research program and a unified post-doctoral and professional development program.

Carrie Wilmot is a professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics. Carrie received her Ph.D. from Birkbeck College at the University of London. Her research is primarily focused on understanding the mechanisms of post-translational modification required for protein enzyme activity.

Marlene Zuk

Associate Dean for Faculty

Marlene Zuk, Associate Dean for FacultyThe associate dean for faculty oversees faculty affairs in the College of Biological Sciences by managing the appointment process for new, affiliate and adjunct faculty, working with department leadership to manage faculty search and hiring processes and negotiation of dual-career arrangements. This position manages the promotion and tenure process, as well as maintains responsibility for identifying and fostering effective open recruitment processes, orienting new faculty and providing mentoring and development opportunities for faculty at all career stages. The associate dean for faculty also oversees sabbatical and single-semester leave requests and central management of faculty awards and honors.

Marlene Zuk is a professor of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on emerging questions in behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology. Her lab uses invertebrate systems to study the evolution of mating behavior and secondary sexual characters in natural populations.