Hicke's appointment, which is effective July 15, 2012, fills a vacancy created when Mary Ann Rankin announced her departure to lead the National Math and Science Initiative after serving as dean for 16 years.
"Linda Hicke comes to us with a deep research background in biochemistry and cell biology, and she has distinguished herself at Northwestern University as a visionary leader," said Executive Vice President and Provost Steven Leslie. "This appointment is important strategically not only for the future of the college, but also for The University of Texas at Austin as a whole."
Hicke praised the college for its ongoing contributions to the creation of knowledge and benefits to society and said she sees the potential for even more growth.
"The College of Natural Sciences is a strong, vibrant, intellectually diverse part of The University of Texas at Austin. The faculty, staff, students and alumni associated with the college have the ambition and talent to lead world-class innovation in research and education in 21st-century science," Hicke said.
"I am honored to join President Powers and Provost Leslie in their enthusiastic commitment to promoting excellence in research and in education in the natural sciences, and I look forward to collaborating with engineering, liberal arts, education and other parts of the institution to help The University of Texas at Austin lead change throughout the world."
Hicke is a recognized expert in cell biology. She received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley and completed two postdoctoral fellowships, the first at the University of California at San Francisco and the second at the University of Basel in Switzerland.
She joins The University of Texas at Austin after 16 years at Northwestern as a professor and in various administrative posts, including director of the Center for Cell and Developmental Biology. She is widely published and was elected to the governing council of the American Society for Cell Biology from 2004 to 2006.
"Cutting-edge education and research in the natural sciences is a core component of any national research university, and whoever leads that effort has a tremendous impact on a university as a whole," said President Bill Powers. "I couldn't be happier that Linda Hicke has agreed to be dean of our College of Natural Sciences."
Hicke's appointment includes a tenured faculty position as professor of molecular genetics and microbiology in the School of Biological Sciences. She will also hold the Robert E. Boyer Chair in Natural Sciences.
The College of Natural Sciences is among the largest colleges at The University of Texas at Austin, with nine departments and schools, 9,700 undergraduate and 1,800 graduate students, and 38 research units. The college has 12 Top 10-ranked programs according to U.S. News and World Report and receives $134 million annually in grants and contracts.