New NSM dean focuses on health, energy-related research
After serving as interim dean for two years and making huge strides in the advancement of STEM education, Dan E. Wells has been appointed the next Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
Wells announced he is developing a “top priority” five-year strategic plan for the college that would help “determine where we want to be, what we want to accomplish, and how we will get there.”
The plan would include assessments of the college’s six different departments
Wells plans to bring in an outside consultant and visit other Tier One universities to compare their curriculum with UH’s to determine “the best practices” for NSM and for impacting the global community with research and programs.
“With our strong focus on health- and energy-related research, our scientists have the opportunity to transform many areas,” Wells said. “The quality of our students and their experience at UH is another way we make an impact locally and globally. With a quality education, the reach and impact of our students after graduation is unlimited.”
One of Wells’ most important goals is to increase STEM education and reach more students in schools across the city. Through the teachHOUSTON program, a partnership between NSM and the College of Education, Wells hopes to graduate 100 students as trained secondary math and science teachers to help assist high school students and gauge their interest in STEM classes.
“I appreciate Dean Wells’ leadership as interim dean and for accepting this important responsibility,” said senior vice president and provost Paula Myrick Short in a press release. “The University of Houston has accomplished much in recent years, and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics plays a key role in the University’s efforts in student success and national competitiveness.”
Wells received his bachelor’s in biology and his master’s in zoology from California State. He went to Indiana University in 1983 where he received his doctorate in cell, molecular and developmental biology. He was awarded an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University School of Medicine shortly after obtaining his doctorate.
Wells came to UH in 1986 and joined the department of biology and biochemistry faculty where he served as president of the Faculty Senate, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, and chair of the Department of Biology and Biochemistry three different times. He said he enjoys being involved with as many events on campus as possible.
“I enjoy participating in UH activities, from attending most football games to the community service and outreach activities such as Campus Clean-Up Day, Cougar Movers and (the) Science Engineering Fair of Houston,” Wells wrote in an email.
While serving as interim dean, Wells hired 25 new faculty members and appointed three new department chairs. He also served as Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator on several grants that awarded UH millions to develop curriculum and improve introductory courses in math, biology, chemistry and physics. One of the cases concerned a two-year, $400,000 Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board student success grant that dealt with introductory biology courses while another included a $3.3 million grant to UH to bring more women and underrepresented minority faculty members into STEM.
“Our science and math courses impact every student at UH,” Wells said in a press release. “It is our goal to continue to add innovative teaching methods to our entry-level classes and to support student success programs aimed at helping STEM majors excel at UH and after graduation.”
CORRECTION: The original story said that Wells was interim dean for three years before being hired permanently. He was only interim dean for two.