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Welcome from Department Head

Welcome from Department Head

Greetings, faculty, students, alumni, and friends.

I am delighted to report that the state of our department is strong. We have been productive, persistent, pioneering, proactive, progressive, and, in short, phenomenal!

As you will read, we have welcomed in a new generation of faculty who hit the ground running. Alysia Vrailas- Mortimer has already received major funding from NSF, and with Nathan Mortimer, is building our first fly facility. Juan Vanegas has added strength in computational biophysics and artificial intelligence and Jessica Siegel taught her first class in neuropharmacology of drugs of abuse. Sarah Clark joined our faculty in September bringing in expertise in cryo-electron microscopy and mechanosensitive ion channels.

I am incredibly fortunate to preside over this change and growth of our department, as we are also recruiting this year for two tenure track positions with research focus in cancer biology, neurodegenerative and infectious diseases.

We also celebrated the retirements of Joe Beckman, Tory Hagen and Andy Karplus and hosted symposia honoring the memory of distinguished physical biochemist Ken van Holde and the ongoing contributions of Chris and Kate Mathews. All events brought many alumni to campus from all over the world.

Our alumni are on a roll in winning the College of Science Young Alumni Awards! Tari Tan (B.S., 2008), was our awardee last year and Simon Johnson (B.S., 2009), is the awardee this year. As you go online to read more about our achievements, take a moment to admire our beautiful website that was launched and revamped last spring!

Lastly, as I read about the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Hamas attack and Israel’s siege and destruction of Gaza, I find it heartbreaking that escalating violence is still seen as the only solution. As I always tell our graduates, we are counting on you to advocate for the importance of fundamental science discoveries for a healthy planet and a peaceful and better society. It is because of you that we remain optimistic that the new generation will make better decisions.

I look forward to continuing our productive trend this year working together, taking risks, insisting, and persisting in revealing how life works and creating more just and peaceful solutions for the benefit of all.