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Sarah Ades Named Dean of the Graduate School and Senior Vice Provost for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

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AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin has named Sarah Ades as the next dean of the Graduate School and the senior vice provost for graduate and postdoctoral studies. Ades, who is currently the associate dean for graduate student affairs in the Graduate School at Penn State, also serves as a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Eberly College of Science.

She will begin her appointment at UT in the Spring 2024 term, succeeding Maria Juenger, who has served as interim dean of the Graduate School since August.

“The Graduate School plays a critical role in our drive to become the highest-impact research university, and I am thrilled that Sarah Ades will be its next leader,” said President Jay Hartzell. “Sarah’s talents, background and track record at another top research university fit well at UT. I am confident that by working with the Graduate School and UT’s incredible portfolio of graduate programs, she will lead us to relentlessly focus on attracting and supporting top graduate students, and preparing them for top positions in academics, industry, nonprofits and government.”

In her current role as associate dean, Ades leads the Office of Graduate Student Affairs and advocates for all of Penn State’s 14,000 graduate students. Her leadership focuses on graduate student issues and concerns, as well as enrichment and professional development opportunities.

An award-winning educator, Ades has developed courses designed to help students master fundamental biology concepts through scientific inquiry. She received the Penn State Teaching Fellow Award, the Alumni Association and Student Award for Teaching Excellence, and the C.I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Eberly College of Science Alumni Society.

Her research investigates how information communicates between the two compartments of a bacterial cell, the cell envelope and cytoplasm, and how others can leverage this knowledge for antibiotic development. She is an internationally recognized microbiologist who leads a research laboratory and brings real-world experiences into the science classroom. She is the recipient of a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation and a GlaxoSmithKline Discovery Fast Track Competition winner. She has also served on the editorial board for the Journal of Bacteriology.

“UT is among the premier research universities in the United States, and I am honored to have the opportunity to work together with graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, faculty and staff to chart the future of graduate education at the University,” Ades said. “My goal for this next step in my career is to ‘pay it forward’ by supporting and enabling the success of the next generation of leaders, innovators and scholars.”

Ades has been on the faculty at Penn State since 2002. Before her tenure there, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institut de Biologie Molecularie et Cellulaire in Strasbourg, France, and at the University of California, San Francisco. She received a bachelor’s degree in molecular physics and biochemistry from Yale University and a Ph.D. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Sarah is a steadfast advocate for graduate students and their success, and she brings rich experience developing both academic and professional development programming to the Graduate School,” said Sharon L. Wood, UT’s executive vice president and provost. “With her deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges of navigating graduate education, I am confident her leadership will further strengthen the Graduate School’s position as a national leader in graduate education and postdoctoral training.”

Ades will succeed Juenger, who succeeded previous Graduate School Dean Mark J.T. Smith upon his retirement from the University. Juenger has provided strong leadership continuity to the Graduate School while bringing expertise from her service on the University’s Task Force for Graduate Education, as chair of the Graduate Assembly and as associate dean for graduate education transformation. She will return to her faculty position as the L.B. (Preach) Meaders Professor of Engineering in the Fariborz Maseeh Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering.