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Cavener named new dean of the Eberly College of Science

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19 June 2015

Headshot of Doug CavenerPenn State announced today (June 19) that Douglas R. Cavener will become the new dean of the Eberly College of Science, pending approval by the University Board of Trustees at its July 17 meeting.

Cavener has been serving as the college’s interim dean since January. He has been professor and head of the Department of Biology at Penn State since 2000 and has served as an adjunct professor of life sciences at the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology in Tanzania.

“Through strategic investments and recruitment of outstanding faculty, staff and students, the Eberly College of Science experienced a meteoric rise in national ranking under the leadership of Dan Larson, our former dean. I am therefore deeply honored to be appointed as the new dean of our college and truly believe that the best is yet to come,” Cavener said. “Our college mantra is excellence in everything we do with emphasis on the integration of teaching and research. As scientists and teachers, our chief enterprise is discovery and translating those discoveries to real life solutions. I look forward to working with my colleagues to achieve great success in the Eberly College of Science.”

As head of biology at Penn State, Cavener expanded the department’s research and teaching in neuroscience, ecology, plant biology, evolutionary biology, infectious disease dynamics and genomics.

His previous experience includes serving as a faculty member at Vanderbilt University’s molecular biology department from 1982 to 2000.

“Our process of searching for new deans is a very comprehensive, inclusive and rigorous process, which attracts many outstanding candidates. However, when the outcome is that one of our accomplished faculty leaders emerges as the successful candidate, as in the case with Doug, we think that speaks volumes about both him and the depth of talent we have at Penn State. I very much look forward to working with him in his new role,” said Nicholas Jones, Penn State’s executive vice president and provost.

Cavener’s research focuses on the regulation of metabolic and neurological processes that are particularly prone to maladaptions that lead to diseases such as metabolic syndrome and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. His work, which has received support from a number of agencies including the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, has direct biomedical implications for several human diseases, including diabetes, neurological disorders, cancer, osteoporosis and growth defects.

In addition, Cavener is leading a team of scientists to sequence the genome of the giraffe for the purpose of determining the genetic basis of the giraffe’s unique morphology and turbocharged cardiovascular system.

He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a recipient of the Dobzhansky Prize from the International Society for the Study of Evolution.

Cavener holds a bachelor of arts degree in biology from Pasadena College, a master of science degree in genetics from Brown University and a doctorate in genetics from the University of Georgia.

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