Quatrano named interim dean of Arts & Sciences

Ralph S. Quatrano, Ph.D., the Spencer T. Olin Professor and chair of the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences, has been named interim dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences, effective July 1, 2008, according to Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.


He succeeds Executive Vice Chancellor Edward S. Macias, Ph.D., dean of Arts & Sciences and the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences. Macias will relinquish his duty as Arts & Sciences dean June 30 and become provost Jan. 1, 2009, following a six-month sabbatical.

Quatrano will serve as interim dean of Arts & Sciences until a regular-term dean is appointed. Plans are under way to begin a comprehensive search for the next dean. Quatrano takes the interim position after having planned to step down as chair June 30 and then take a leave.

“Ralph has been an important leader in Arts & Sciences since joining Washington University nearly a decade ago,” Wrighton said. “Throughout his professional career, he has demonstrated a strong ability to connect people and ideas and guide them toward a common goal.

“Ralph will benefit from the strong foundation that Ed Macias has built in Arts & Sciences, and he will be a key leader in implementing plans for the future that have been developed. I am grateful to Ralph for agreeing to serve Washington University in this significant way,” he said.

Quatrano, who came to the University in 1998 to chair the biology department, oversees one of the nation’s most highly regarded biology departments with exceptional strengths in a number of areas, including the plant sciences. He directed the hiring of 12 new faculty members and recently served as director of the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences.

Wertsch to chair advisory committee

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton has announced the formation of an Advisory Committee on the Appointment of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences.

“The new dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences will be an important University leader in the era ahead and will play a key role in advancing the strong academic foundation in Arts & Sciences developed by Executive Vice Chancellor and Dean, Edward S. Macias,” said Wrighton in announcing the committee.

Wrighton appointed James V. Wertsch, Ph.D., the Marshall S. Snow Professor in Arts & Sciences and director of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy and of International & Area Studies to chair the 12-member committee.

He also named the following individuals to the committee:
Deanna M. Barch, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences and of psychiatry and of radiology at the School of Medicine and director of the Silvio Conte Center for Neuroscience Research.
Timothy J. Bono, a graduate student representative to the Board of Trustees and a Ph.D. student in psychology in Arts & Sciences;
John Michael Clear, an Arts & Sciences alumnus, National Council member and a partner at Bryan Cave LLP;
Gerald L. Early, Ph.D., the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters and director of the Center for the Humanities in Arts & Sciences;
Thomas E. Ellenberger, D.V.M., Ph.D., the Raymond H. Wittcoff Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at the School of Medicine;
Kenneth F. Kelton, Ph.D., the Arthur Holly Compton Professor in Arts & Sciences and chair of the Department of Physics;
Marius Johnson, undergraduate student representative to the Board and a political science major in Arts & Sciences;
Leah A. Merrifield, special assistant to the chancellor for diversity initiatives;
Richard J. Smith, Ph.D., the Ralph E. Morrow Distinguished University Professor, chair of the Department of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences and dean-designate of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences;
Gerhild S. Williams, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor, professor of Germanic Languages & Literatures in Arts & Sciences, the Barbara Schaps Thomas and David M. Thomas Professor in the Humanities and special assistant to the chancellor for academic affairs; and
Karen L. Wooley, Ph.D., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences, professor of chemistry and of radiology.

His research group, comprising graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, often collaborates with School of Medicine researchers as well as with scientists from Monsanto Co. and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

He is internationally known for his work on model plant systems to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling seed development and how cells acquire polarity. More recently, he has used the moss Physcomitrella patens to study the mechanism of drought tolerance and took a leadership role in a consortium of more than 100 international researchers and the Joint Genome Institute of the Department of Energy to sequence and annotate the moss genome. This latter effort culminated in a major publication earlier this year in the journal Science, with Quatrano as corresponding author.

Since 1970, Quatrano has been a visiting professor or investigator at five institutions, including the University of Naples, Cambridge University, and the University of Leeds, as well as with Stanford University and the University of Washington. He has given invited seminars at institutions worldwide and has published more than 160 research papers. He has won teaching awards at the undergraduate and graduate levels and has mentored 20 graduate students and 40 postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists.

From 1986-89, Quatrano was research manager in molecular biology for the E.I. duPont de Nemours & Co.

From 1968-1986, Quatrano was a faculty member in botany at Oregon State University. His last two years there, he founded and directed the university’s Center for Gene Research and Biotechnology.

He was editor-in-chief of The Plant Cell, the premier journal of plant biology; elected president of the American Society of Plant Biology; a member of the advisory committee for biological sciences for the National Science Foundation until 2001; a member of the scientific advisory committee of the Rockefeller Foundation International Program on Rice Biotechnology; and, from 1991-98, was a member of the board of reviewing editors for Science magazine, the publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

He is a Fellow of the AAAS and the St. Louis Academy of Science as well as an inaugural fellow of the American Society of Plant Biology.

Quatrano earned a bachelor’s degree in botany with honors from Colgate University in 1962, a master’s degree in botany from Ohio University in 1964, and a doctorate in biology from Yale University in 1968.