New Growth with New Faculty

by Joe Kunkel

As expected, a modern university is characterized by dynamic change. The University is used to rapid change in its resident students on campus ... they become our alumni. While our alumni may like to remember the campus populated with their favorite friends and teachers, each decade brings a reinvention of the campus population. One face of our new campus is the changes that have occurred in our faculty. Since our last BioMass Newsletter (2001) there have been dramatic changes in our Biology Department Faculty through moves, retirements and deaths.

After the decade we can count 14 new faculty with 11 active faculty leaving the list in the same period. That is a net growth of 3 faculty. We are working hard with new faculty searches going on each semester. At this writing we have two searches in the finals stages of recommending appointments of two new professors. Another search is in the process of negotiating hiring conditions. Thus this year we may add three new Biology Department faculty.

Briefly, we have added four new plant biologists, Tobias Baskin, Magdalena Bezanilla, Ana Caicedo, and Sam Hazen. We highlight the Plant Biology Program growth in a special article in this issue. We added two zebrafish biologists, Gerald Downes and Abigail Jensen, three evolutionary/ functional morphologists, Elizabeth Dumont, Duncan Irshick and Sheila Patek, two cell biologists, Wie-Lih Lee and Tom Maresca. We have also added a Microbial Population and Evolutionary Biologist, Margaret Riley who has also organized for the first time a Massachusetts Academy of Sciences and serves as its Director. Elizabeth Dumont also serves as Director of the Massachusetts Natural History Museum and overseas the various collections with new faculty member Alan Richmond serving as curator of the Herpetology Collection. Our undergraduate teaching mission has been fortified by the hiring of Zane Barlow, Peter Houlihan and Christiane Healey. You can learn about each old and new faculty by browsing our faculty at URL: http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/faculty , which will also allow you to link to their departmental page as well as their research pages.

In the past 10 years 11 faculty have retired. Starting in 2001, Dave Mulcahy, Stuart Ludlam and Bernie Rubinstein retired followed by Doug Smith in 2002. Willy Bemis retired in 2005, moving to take up the Directorship of the Isle of Schoals Marine Research Station of Cornell University and State of New Hampshire. Then from 2007 to 2011, one Professor retired each year: Chris Woodcock, Gordon Wyse, James Walker, John Nambu and Dennis Searcy. Interestingly, Chris Woodcock and Gordon Wyse have remained active in administrative and advisory roles which is a treasured donation by both to a grateful Department and College. This retirement rate has been a hectic one to try to keep up with in both terms of our teaching and research force. During that time we also hired George Langford, who was hired from Dartmouth College as Dean of the former College of Natural Science and Math, but was officially a Biology Faculty member. He left UMass after three years in 2007 to become a Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University.

With these dynamic changes in our active faculty we also need to report the deaths of faculty over the past ten years that are certain to be meaningful to many of our alumni. Don Fairbairn, who retired in 1975, died in 2001. His protégé Steve Kaulenas was an active Professor until he died in 2002. The Kaulenas Lecture Series has been instituted in his memory. Alastair Stuart retired in 2004 and died in 2009. Harold Rauch who retired in 1987 died in 2010. John Roberts who retired in 1979 also died recently in 2010. Brian O'Connor presents remembrances of Professor Roberts in this issue.