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Saturday, September 18, 2021

New College of Science dean hopes to recruit more students to STEM

Article Originally Published by Ryan Cantrell on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Ryan Cantrell on North Texas Daily

The College of Science’s recently appointed dean, Pamela Padilla, plans to use her new role to recruit more students to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In June 2021, Padilla was appointed the College of Science dean and will serve a two-year tenure. She served as an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences from 2008 to 2016. In 2017, Padilla was promoted to professor. 

Padilla succeeds Su Gao, the college’s founding dean.

“As a faculty member that has taught thousands of undergraduate students, I am excited to be back in COS learning more about the needs and success of our students,” Padilla said.

Padilla previously served as vice president of Research and Innovation, as well as associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies at the College of Science. She teaches classes in stress physiology and genetics while running her own lab.

Padilla focuses her research on the effects environmental stress has on living organisms at the molecular level and her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. She is a recipient of the NSF’s CAREER award. 

“I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Padilla before on [one] research proposal and I have also had quite a bit of interaction with her in her previous capacity as associate vice president for research,” said LeGrande Slaughter, chair of the Department of Chemistry. “That role was an excellent training ground for becoming dean, in my opinion.”

Slaughter also said Padilla is the best candidate to lead the College of Science and is hopeful she will continue to bring the college more opportunities in research. The new dean also plans to expand the College of Science’s faculty team, engage in greater STEM education outreach and increase resources for research.

“We will seek resources to specifically recruit students into our STEM programs,” Padilla said. “The sciences are such rewarding and interesting areas of study and provide a foundation for other degrees such as in the field of health care.” 

Alexica Johnson, one of two College of Science senators currently serving in the university’s Student Government Association, believes Padilla will acknowledge students’ concerns and bring positive changes to the college.

“I do believe that [Padilla’s] appointment will affect my job as a SGA senator, but for good,” Johnson said. “[…] I think Dean Padilla will do good in her position and I hope she revamps the college. […] I feel we will have some good changes and I think in conjunction with her staff and COS senators, we can implement some good changes to only better the college.”

With Padilla’s new appointment, she brings numerous achievements and experience with leadership in the fields of research, as well as diversity and inclusion. She was given an outstanding mentor award by the Siemens Scholarship and was awarded the Early Career Award for Research and Creativity from the university. Padilla is currently serving as the president of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science.

“She is absolutely the best person to lead the College of Science in continuing the amazing progress we have achieved in the past four years, which has included growing faculty numbers and research activity in all four COS departments,” Slaughter said. 

Courtesy UNT

Source: North Texas Daily

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