Mark Saltzman, a professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, will serve as the next Head of Jonathan Edwards College, University President Peter Salovey announced in a gathering at the college’s dining hall Thursday morning.

Saltzman, who is the founding chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, studies the fields of drug delivery, biomaterials, nanobiotechnology and tissue engineering. He arrived at Yale in 2002 after teaching at Johns Hopkins University and Cornell University. During the announcement, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway called Saltzman a “renaissance man,” adding that he believes Saltzman will be an amazing head of college.

“Thank you so much for this welcoming. This is such a special place and I am very eager to contribute productively to your life. It wasn’t really imaginable when I was graduating from high school that I could belong in such a place,” said Saltzman, who is the grandson of farmers from Iowa. “But I do feel like I belong here. We all belong here.”

Salovey praised Saltzman for both his research and teaching accomplishments. As a researcher, Saltzman has delivered nearly 300 invited lectures and is the author of three textbooks. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Medicine and of the National Academy of Inventors. As a teacher, Saltzman teaches undergraduate courses examining topics such as physiological systems and the engineering of drug delivery, and he was awarded Yale’s Sheffield Teaching Prize for excellence in the classroom in 2009.

Saltzman will be joined by his wife, Christina Pavlak, who is an assistant professor of education at Quinnipiac University, and their three-year-old daughter, Noa. He officially begins the role on July 1.

Saltzman succeeds current JE head Penelope Laurans, who announced in January that she would retire this June after 43 years of service to the University.

Both Holloway and Salovey addressed the unusual timing of the announcement. New heads of college are typically announced by the President at dinner time during the school year rather than during reading period. Holloway praised JE students for filling the dining hall and welcoming their new head of college despite the busy time of year.

Students interviewed said they were excited to welcome a STEM professor to the college.

I’ve been working in Professor Saltzman’s lab for almost two years now and was thrilled to hear he would be our new head,” said Serena Tharakan ’18, a JE student and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology major. “His work is obviously incredibly impressive and it would be totally intimidating, if not for the fact that he’s also been extremely welcoming to me and always ready to extend help. I’ve known him in an entirely different context and am excited to see him in his new role as Head. I think it’s also cool to see a STEM professor — especially BME — as a Head of College because I think diversity on that level is important too.”

Lauren Lamonica ’18, who is also in JE, said it is exciting to see a STEM professor take on the role as Head of College. She added that Saltzman will be a good mentor and guide in issues such as research.