A Q&A with Anja Bielinsky

The college’s new associate dean for research and graduate education talks about plans for boosting research collaboration and developing graduate student learning outcomes across programs.

Anja Bielinsky, professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, joined the college’s administrative team in August with a 50-percent appointment as associate dean for research and graduate education. In her new role, Bielinsky will develop strategies to support and improve the quality of CBS graduate programs, and advance the research activities of the college’s faculty in part through collaborations within and beyond the University. Bielinsky served as director of graduate studies for the BMBB graduate program from 2007-11 and has been a co-leader of the Genetics Mechanisms of Cancer program at the Masonic Cancer Center since 2011.

What are your major priorities going forward?

My major priorities are assisting the college’s graduate programs as they prepare for accreditation and looking for ways to collaborate on research and faculty hires across colleges and programs.

You mentioned accreditation. How do you plan to help graduate programs prepare?

My goal is to bring everyone to the table to create more consistency across programs, where possible, and to increase communication between directors of graduate studies (DGSs), especially across the biomedical programs that intersect with CBS programs. Our graduate programs are all different, but there are common metrics that we can work toward such as students’ ability to secure fellowships and the quality and number of their publications. I think it’s important to define these outcomes and make it easier for students to measure their success by creating clear milestones.

How do you plan to support research collaborations?

I plan to stay abreast of faculty hires both within the College of Biological Sciences and at other colleges. I’m also looking forward to communicating more with programs on the St. Paul campus. CBS is in the midst of research cluster hiring. Based on my experience leading a basic science program within the Masonic Cancer Center, I know there are strong affinities with the University’s biomedical programs around building capacity in emerging areas such as functional genomics. As associate dean, I can alert our faculty to research directions that they may not have considered and act as a bridge between the college and research programs in the U of M Medical School and beyond.