Vaibhav Sharma, Photo Editor

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences is looking for another dean to guide its future in science, as the University moves resources and hiring slots into the field.

On Monday, FAS Dean Tamar Gendler announced a search committee for the divisional dean of science, a full-time role that will begin during the next academic year. Currently, Jeffrey Brock ’92 serves as both dean of science and the dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science. Based on a February announcement from University administrators, SEAS is set to operate separately from FAS effective July 1, and Brock will step down from his role as FAS Dean of Science to focus more wholly on the expanding responsibilities of the SEAS deanship. 

“Brock did an amazing job in both roles, but we realized that each deserved full-time attention, like the other two deanships,” Gendler wrote to the News, referencing two other FAS roles responsible for overseeing the divisions of humanities and social science.

The FAS science division includes the departments of applied physics, astronomy, chemistry, earth and planetary sciences, mathematics, physics and Yale’s three biology departments. The division also oversees the undergraduate program in cognitive science. SEAS includes the departments of biomedical engineering, chemical and environmental engineering, mechanical engineering and materials science, electrical engineering, applied physics and computer science.

Chemistry professor Scott Miller, a previous dean of science, will chair the seven-person search committee for the role he once held. Joining him are four professors tenured in science departments: earth and planetary sciences professor Ruth Blake, ecology and evolutionary biology professor Erika Edwards, biology professor Ron Breaker and physics professor Meg Urry. Also on the committee are Deborah Coen, a history professor who chairs the History of Science, History of Medicine program, and Lisa Turner, a senior administrative assistant in Gendler’s office. The search committee will provide a list of candidates to Gendler at the end of March.

This search comes on the heels of the University’s recent announcement of major developments in science and engineering. Last month, University President Peter Salovey and Provost Scott Strobel announced a wave of investments into faculty and facilities, as well as upcoming structural changes — including the School of Engineering & Applied Science’s forthcoming independence from the Faculty of Arts and Science. In the February message, Strobel and Salovey said the new dean of science will work closely with Brock and the School of Engineering & Applied Science team. 

“[Gendler] will seek to identify a leader who will continue the tradition of close coordination and partnership between FAS science and SEAS,” Strobel and Salovey wrote. 

Brock echoed Salovey and Strobel’s remarks on collaboration, noting that he will continue working alongside FAS administration — in particular, the new dean of science — to continue Yale’s various STEM endeavors. Among these are the ongoing construction of the Physical Sciences and Engineering Building (PSEB), which is set to open in 2027, and an overhaul of Hillhouse Avenue’s STEM-geared facilities. 

The February announcement also included the addition of 45 faculty positions — 30 in the School of Engineering & Applied Science and 15 in FAS, with about half of the FAS posts designated for data-intensive social science.

“The next dean of science will steward the science division in an era of deep investment in the biological and physical sciences at Yale, and I look forward to the opportunity to collaborate on the challenges and opportunities that will confront science and engineering in this period of extraordinary growth in the faculty,” Brock wrote in an email to the News.

In 2018, the University Science Strategy Committee released a report recommending five primary areas of investment opportunity: integrative data science; quantum science, engineering and materials; environmental and evolutionary sciences; inflammation science and neuroscience. These areas were incorporated into Yale’s capital campaign, which launched this past October and has a strong STEM focus. 

With the USSC report in mind, Edwards — the EEB professor serving on the search committee — described the importance of interdisciplinary familiarity in the next dean of science.

“This is an especially exciting time to be the next Dean of Science, as Yale embarks on fulfilling its promise to invest heavily in sciences here, including the 5 priority areas outlined by the University Science Strategy Committee,” Edwards wrote in an email to the News. “I think we are looking for a bold and inspiring scientist to fill this role. Ideally, they will be fluent (or at least conversant!) in the language of multiple science disciplines and develop an ambitious vision for what we can do here, while paying close attention to the nuts and bolts – making sure the infrastructure and institutional support for science keeps pace with our intellectual ambitions.” 

Brock came to Yale as a professor of mathematics in the summer of 2018, assuming the role of inaugural dean of science the following January. In the summer of 2019, Brock took on further responsibilities as the School of Engineering & Applied Science dean.

Prior to joining Yale’s ranks, Brock served as director of Brown University’s data science institute and also chaired its mathematics department.

Though Brock was an outside hire from Brown University when he became dean of science in 2018, Gendler wrote to the News that the new dean is expected to be an existing full professor from one of the nine departments in the science division, likely one who served as a department chair or leader of a research center or group. She noted that faculty in the School of Engineering & Applied Science or an empirical social science field like data science or neuroscience would also be eligible. 

“It was really a deep pleasure and career highlight to have the chance to work with this amazing group of science colleagues over the last three years,” Brock wrote to the News. “They care deeply about Yale, and work tirelessly to make sure that science is celebrated within and externally to the University. In an era of increased interest in applications, these faculty recognize how vital it is to preserve an environment of enduring scientific excellence, and to maintain focus on the core values that have made Yale’s science enterprise so exceptional.”

The FAS is split into three divisions: science, humanities and social science. 

Correction, March 8: A previous version of this article misnamed the ecology and evolutionary biology department as ecology and environmental biology. The article has been updated accordingly. 

Anika Arora Seth is the 146th Editor in Chief and President of the Yale Daily News. Anika previously covered STEM at Yale as well as admissions, alumni and financial aid. She also laid out the weekly print edition of the News as a Production & Design editor and was one of the inaugural Diversity, Equity & Inclusion co-chairs. Anika is pursuing a double major in biomedical engineering and women's, gender and sexuality studies.
Isaac Yu was the News' managing editor. He covered transportation and faculty as a reporter and laid out the front page of the weekly print edition. He co-founded the News' Audience desk, which oversees social media and the newsletter. He was a leader of the News' Asian American and low-income affinity groups. Hailing from Garland, Texas, Isaac is a Berkeley College junior majoring in American Studies.