What your highest priority right now in your role as associate dean?
The goal is to do work that will have the most impact for the College and the most benefit for students, faculty and staff. One challenge is that it is not always so simple to predict what efforts will ultimately have the most impact. That said, a major goal is to continue working toward developing and promoting applications for large multi-investigator interdisciplinary funding initiatives. Another focus is promoting genetic and genomic research and collaborations in this space. I think it is fair to say that genetics and genomics are fundamental and unifying disciplines across the biological sciences because what sets living things apart from other natural systems is that they possess the instructions for their own replication in their genomes. A good place to begin here is increasing the number of graduate positions in this area, and I am working on increasing funding for graduate education in genetics, genomics, and genetic counseling in our college.
What are your goals for the the next year?
I have a long list of specific action items, but a key goal that encapsulates many of the goals is to work toward enhancing the microclimate for research in the College. Essentially, this means being responsive to the needs of our colleagues and thinking about what actions could make everyone’s job easier. Research is a resource-intensive endeavor, so we are constantly working to find resources for new initiatives. Sometimes this will mean asking what prior programs have served their usefulness and might be discontinued.
What's coming up at the University that we should know about?
I think everyone in our community should be aware of and participate in efforts to continue to promote diversity in our college. There is now substantial evidence that diverse participation in education and research positively affects the creativity and effectiveness of educational programs. There are several ongoing faculty searches that will bring new colleagues to our institution, and the Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship Program provides another mechanism to recruit outstanding early-career scientists to our institution with a view toward their entry into tenure-track faculty positions.
What's something unique about your role?
In my role as associate dean for research, I have adopted an approach analogous to a player-coach. For example, I am still active at the bench and I still do experiments. In addition, I am actively engaged in teaching. I direct and teach the majority of a graduate-level genetics and genomics course. Besides the fact that I obviously enjoy these activities, they help me understand the day-to-day challenges faculty and students experience. What I find most enjoyable and rewarding is mentoring faculty and students. It’s fun to see colleagues and students be successful.