Powell-Coffman named chair of Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology at Iowa State

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AMES, Iowa – Jo Anne Powell-Coffman is the new chair of the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology at Iowa State University.

Jo Anne Powell-Coffman

Powell-Coffman has served as interim chair of the department since July 2011. She succeeded Martin Spalding, who became associate dean for research in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology is coadministered by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

"Dr. Powell-Coffman has proven to be an excellent leader of the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology," said Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Beate Schmittmann. "She also has a great reputation as a teacher and researcher, and is well-suited to continue this role as chair."

“Dr. Powell-Coffman is a strong, thoughtful leader and the department will continue to excel with her guidance,” said Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Powell-Coffman joined the faculty at Iowa State in 1998. She served as the department’s ADVANCE Professor from 2007 to 2009. ADVANCE aims to increase the participation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers. She also chaired the interdepartmental genetics graduate program from 2010 to 2011.

She earned a Ph.D. in biology from the University of California-San Diego. Her research concentrates on using a genetic model system, called the nematode C. elegans, to study how animals sense and adapt to their environments.

Jonathan Wendel, Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, chaired the search committee. "I feel so fortunate that we were able to attract such a great colleague and scholar to this important leadership position," he said.

The Department of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology is dedicated to biological discovery and excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, with research and teaching missions encompassing fundamental cellular and subcellular processes. The department is a major participant, along with other departments, in offering ISU’s undergraduate majors in biology, genetics and bioinformatics and computational biology. The department also is a major contributor to several interdisciplinary graduate programs, including bioinformatics and computational biology, genetics, microbiology, plant biology, toxicology and others.

Powell-Coffman’s appointment was effective in January.

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About Liberal Arts and Sciences
 The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a world-class learning and research community. Iowa State’s most academically diverse college, LAS educates students to become global citizens, providing rigorous academic programs in the sciences, humanities and social sciences within a supportive personalized learning environment. College faculty design new materials, unravel biological structures, care for the environment, and explore social and behavioral issues. From fundamental research to technology transfer and artistic expression, the college supports people in Iowa and around the world.

About Agriculture and Life Sciences The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences educates future leaders, conducts mission-oriented basic and applied research and shares new knowledge for the betterment of Iowa. The College is world-renowned for “science with practice” that shapes and improves lives and livelihoods. The college has 15 academic departments, eight of which are coadministered with other ISU colleges. Great advisers, caring mentors and abundant opportunities for leadership, entrepreneurship and real-world experience are the college’s hallmark to help students begin their careers.

NEWS RELEASE College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University

Contacts: Jo Anne Powell-Coffman, Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, (515) 294-3906, (japc@iastate.edu) Brian Meyer, Agriculture & Life Sciences Communication, (515) 294-0706, (bmeyer@iastate.edu) Laura Wille, Liberal Arts & Sciences Communication, (515) 294-7742, (lge@iastate.edu)