The new academic year has seen a shifting of roles within Yale’s largest graduate program with the appointment of its director, Lynn Cooley, Ph.D., as dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
Cooley, the C.N.H. Long Professor of Genetics, stepped down as leader of the Combined Program in Biological & Biomedical Sciences (BBS) July 1 to assume the deanship. She is succeeded as BBS director by Anthony J. Koleske, Ph.D., professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry and of neurobiology.
Her appointment comes at the same time as that of Tamar Gendler, Ph.D., as dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, a newly created position; and of Jonathan Holloway, Ph.D., as dean of Yale College.
Cooley had served as BBS director since 2001. She received her B.A. from Connecticut College in 1976 and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Texas in 1984 for research carried out at Yale with Sterling Professor Dieter Söll, Ph.D. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Institution of Science, where she established new methods using transposable elements for genetic and molecular analysis of genes in the fruit fly (Drosophila) model system. Her lab at Yale studies the cell biology of egg development, focusing on communication between cells and mechanisms controlling cell growth.
“This is a very exciting time to be in graduate school,” said Cooley, who is also professor of cell biology and of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. “In the sciences, the new technologies available for doing research are just astonishing, and similar developments are taking place in other disciplines as well.”
Koleske has served as director of graduate admissions for the BBS Program’s Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry track and its successor, the Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology track. He is a member of the executive committees of the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program and the Cellular and Molecular Biology Training Program. Koleske earned his Ph.D. in 1993 at MIT, where he was a graduate student in the lab of Richard Young, Ph.D., and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with David Baltimore, also at MIT. His research is focused on the mechanisms underlying cell adhesion and how these processes break down in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
Cooley becomes dean at a time when graduate education is evolving. Funding cuts have posed challenges for universities nationally, and the typical career paths for doctoral students have diversified and become more complex. “Students are doing many other things besides staying in academia, in part because there may be fewer academic jobs available, but often simply because there are more opportunities than there used to be,” she said.
Her goals for the Graduate School include expanding career services, a process that began this summer, and providing resources to enhance teaching. “This means making sure students are learning the most cutting edge methods for doing both research and teaching,” Cooley said. “If they are going to stay in the academy, they need to be innovative teachers, and pedagogical methods are changing rapidly. Even in non-academic jobs, students’ ability to take in information, synthesize it, and communicate it to others will be crucial for their success.”
Koleske places a similar premium on career support for BBS students. This includes mentoring activities and the development of an alumni network and ties with industry that will expose students to careers in academia, biotechnology, pharma, scientific publishing, and consulting.
“Graduate students are very much the engines of discovery here,” he said. “They come up with the hypotheses, they work really hard to test them, and they’re the ones who make the discoveries. The goal of the BBS is to really allow us to attract the best students and support them in every way we can.”