The University of Houston appointed longtime faculty member Dan E. Wells as its new dean for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM). Wells was already the chair and interim dean of the department of biology and biochemistry. The professor will remain responsible for supervising 210 faculty members working in the fields of biology, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, Earth and atmospheric sciences, mathematics and physics.
The chair of the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Houston was chosen for the new position due not only to his contributions as a leader, but also for his achievements in teaching, investigating and mentoring. In addition, the representatives of the university believe that Wells will continue to advance the school’s research initiatives, as announced by the university in a press release.
“I appreciate Dean Wells’ leadership as interim dean and for accepting this important responsibility,” said the senior vice president and provost of the institution, Paula Myrick Short. “The University of Houston has accomplished much in recent years, and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics plays a key role in the University’s efforts in student success and national competitiveness.”
The new dean has already stated he will launch a new strategy to be implemented by the university. “Developing a five-year strategic plan for the College is my top priority,” explained Wells. “The College benefits from a strong faculty with research programs and expertise in many areas, including energy and biomedicine. My plan is to capitalize on our collaborations with industry, health care and NASA, placing NSM in the position to impact both the local and global community.”
In addition, Wells also expressed his interest in ranking student success programs in the College, which include 1,050 graduate students and 4,300 undergraduate majors, as well as accelerating graduation rates. “Our science and math courses impact every student at UH. It is our goal to continue to add innovative teaching methods to our entry-level classes and to support student success programs aimed at helping STEM majors excel at UH and after graduation,” he added.
With a PhD in cell, molecular and developmental biology from Indiana University that he earned in 1983, a postdoctoral fellowship from the Stanford University School of Medicine and a bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s degree in zoology, both from California State University, the research conducted by Wells is focused on genetics. He is particularly interested in the molecular and genetic characterization of a series of human syndromes with abnormalities in the development of cartilage and bone.
He was also awarded with several recognitions, including the Excellence in Research and Scholarship Award from the University of Houston in 1997, the Cooper Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1998 and UH’s Career Teaching Excellence Award in 2011. In addition, he was granted funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.