The University of California San Diego has selected Kit Pogliano, a professor of molecular biology, as the new dean of the Division of Biological Sciences. Currently dean of the university’s Graduate Division, Pogliano was selected after a national search and will begin her new appointment on Sept. 15, 2018.
Pogliano is the fourth dean of the division and its first female leader. She will lead a renowned Biological Sciences Division that consistently ranks among the world’s best in biology research and education. Recent U.S. News and World Report rankings placed UC San Diego’s biology and biochemistry programs as eighth best in the world. Other rankings such as those by the National Research Council have ranked the division’s programs among the highest in the nation. Earlier this year, three Biological Sciences faculty members were ranked among the most influential in their fields based on their publications over the past decade.
Currently there are 6,000 Biological Sciences undergraduate majors at UC San Diego, roughly 22 percent of all undergraduate students on campus. The division features 28,000 enrollments per year in the division’s courses.
“I’m delighted that Kit Pogliano has accepted the critical leadership position as dean of the Division of Biological Sciences,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Her excellence in leadership, research and service and her longstanding commitment to educational access and equity make her an ideal choice to lead Biological Sciences at UC San Diego.”
A member of the UC San Diego faculty since 1996, Pogliano’s research focuses on the application of cell biological tools to understand the design principles of bacterial cells, and to discover new antibiotics and develop diagnostics for multidrug resistant bacterial infections. Leveraging her experience with the biotech community, she cofounded a company to bring this technology to the pharmaceutical industry to accelerate new drug discovery.
Pogliano received her Ph.D. from the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School and was a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. She is a recipient of the Searle Scholar and Beckman Young Investigator awards and is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. She has previously served as section chair of Molecular Biology, as director of the Microbial Sciences Graduate Research Initiative and co-director of the UC San Diego Microbiome and Microbial Sciences Initiative.
“Dr. Pogliano’s prior leadership experience at UC San Diego, her commitment to diversity, and her collaborative ethos will all serve her well in her new role,” said Elizabeth H. Simmons, UC San Diego’s executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. “I look forward to working with Dean Pogliano and the faculty to further elevate the division’s academic profile and enhance its connectivity with all part of campus and the surrounding community.”
As dean of Biological Sciences, Pogliano will serve as the intellectual and administrative leader of the division, responsible for setting divisional goals in alignment with the university’s strategic plan; promoting inclusive high standards in research, education and administration; and supporting the needs of an outstanding and diverse faculty and student body. Additionally, she will provide leadership to the division’s four academic sections in resource and space allocations, academic recruitments and professional advancement of faculty and staff.
“I am very excited to lead a division with such accomplished faculty and students whose discoveries are reshaping our understanding of the natural world,” said Pogliano. “The impressive accomplishments of the division are driven by its outstanding people, and the creativity and collaborative spirit that defines the UC San Diego campus and the local biomedical ecosystem.”
Pogliano succeeds Bill McGinnis, a developmental biologist who has led the division since 2013. As dean, McGinnis guided the division through an unprecedented period of scientific achievement and growth among faculty and the undergraduate population. McGinnis, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, will remain on the Biological Sciences faculty as a distinguished professor of Cell and Developmental Biology.
The Division of Biological Sciences is organized in four sections that span a broad range of research areas, from genetics to brain disorders; plant biology to climate change; and immune defenses against disease. They are: Cell and Developmental Biology; Ecology, Behavior and Evolution; Molecular Biology and Neurobiology. Biologists at UC San Diego have made strides in developing non-traditional solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Examples include developing renewable food and fuel sources, investigations of traumatic brain injuries and a new understanding of the biology of aging.
Based on a new “active genetics” technology developed by UC San Diego biologists, the university recently launched the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society, a groundbreaking $70 million initiative on a mission to address critical human health issues such as malaria and improved agricultural crops.