After more than 16 years as dean of the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Mary Ann Rankin will lead the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), continuing her efforts to improve science and mathematics education in the United States.
Rankin will join NMSI following the retirement of CEO and President Tom Luce sometime during summer 2011. She has been dean of the College of Natural Sciences since 1994, and she’s been working with NMSI to promote the replication of the UTeach program since 2007.
“This is very bittersweet for me. I’m very excited about this opportunity to further promote programs such as UTeach that were started here,” said Rankin. “It’s a critical time in this country. The Obama administration is very focused on improving science and math education in the U.S., and I’m excited to be part of that national effort. I’m so proud of this large research university for starting UTeach and other innovative programs in teaching.”
“Dean Rankin has provided unwavering and dedicated leadership in the College of Natural Sciences and at The University of Texas at Austin,” said William Powers Jr., president of the university. “She has steered the college to its place as one of the best colleges of science in the world.”
Rankin has overseen, with her administrative team, the development of numerous new interdisciplinary research initiatives, construction of new science buildings and the establishment of several successful programs for undergraduates, including the Freshman Research Initiative and the UTeach program for math and science teacher preparation. UTeach has tripled in enrollment in the last three years and is being replicated at 21 universities nationally, through support of the UTeach Institute and NMSI.
Research centers that have been established or grown substantially during Rankin’s deanship include the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research, the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, the Center for Learning and Memory and the Marine Science Institute.
Several new world-class buildings have come on-line during Rankin’s tenure as dean, including the Norman Hackerman Building, the Louise and James Robert Moffett Molecular Biology Building, the Applied Computational and Engineering Sciences Building, the Neural Molecular Science Building and the Larry R. Faulkner Nano Science and Technology Building.
Rankin received her bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Louisiana State University, was a National Science Foundation pre-doctoral fellow at the University of Iowa and Imperial College Field Station, Ascot, England, and was awarded a doctorate in physiology and behavior from the University of Iowa in 1972. She was a National Institutes of Health post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University until joining The University of Texas at Austin in 1975 as an assistant professor of zoology. In 1986, she was promoted to professor. Rankin was chairman of the Division of Biological Sciences from 1989 until her appointment as dean of the College of Natural Sciences in 1994.
Rankin’s research focuses on studies of the physiologic relationships governing the evolution of insect life history strategies. She is a member of the American Entomological Society, the Royal Entomological Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is vice chairman of the board of directors of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.
The College of Natural Sciences includes 14 departments and schools, 34 research centers and institutes, and about 9,000 undergraduate and 1,800 graduate students. The college’s 360 faculty members have access to outstanding research facilities, and many are award-winning educators. Grants and contracts awarded to the college amounted to more than $134 million in 200910.
NMSI is a non-profit organization that has been at the forefront of public-private efforts to raise math and science achievement in the U.S. since 2007, when it was created with support from Exxon Mobil Corporation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.