Dr. Jean VanderGheynst appointed interim dean of the College of Engineering

Article by Dateline staff

On June 9th Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi announced the appointment of Professor Jean VanderGheynst as interim dean for the College of Engineering, effective July 1. VanderGheynst served as the associate dean for Undergraduate Studies from 2009 to 2013, and since then has been the associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies. VanderGheynst replaces outgoing dean Enrique Lavernia on the day he becomes provost and executive vice chancellor at UC Irvine. She will serve until a permanent dean takes up the post. Finalists for the permanent position recently visited campus and the recruitment process is ongoing.

In announcing the appointment, Chancellor Katehi said, “We are fortunate that accomplished faculty like Professor VanderGheynst are prepared to fill important leadership roles in periods of transition. We sincerely appreciate her willingness to take on this important interim leadership assignment.”

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter noted that interim dean designate VanderGheynst is already working with him to prepare for the transition.

“I have enjoyed productive relationships with faculty, staff and students as a faculty member in biological and agricultural engineering, and as an associate dean,” VanderGheynst said. “It is an honor for me to serve as dean. I look forward to supporting the research, teaching and service missions of the college and facilitating the transition of our new dean.”

Besides her faculty appointment, VanderGheynst has been a staff research scientist at the Joint BioEnergy Institute in Emeryville since 2006. UC Davis is a partner in the institute, a U.S. Department of Energy research center dedicated to developing advanced biofuels. She’s been a member of the UC Davis Energy Institute’s steering committee since 2007.

She also serves as the director of Renewable Energy Systems Opportunity for Unified Research Collaboration and Education, or RESOURCE, which pairs Ph.D. students with elementary school teachers to develop and deliver curriculum related to renewable energy and environmental sustainability. The National Science Foundation provides the funding for RESOURCE, which is a partnership between the College of Engineering and UC Davis’ Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement, or MESA, K-12 Schools Program.

VanderGheynst’s research emphasizes agricultural biotechnology and bioenergy production. Current projects include investigating algae for water treatment and biofuel production and biological deconstruction if cellulosic biomass for next generation biofuels and bioproducts.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Syracuse University and two advanced degrees from Cornell: a master’s and Ph.D., both in agricultural and biological engineering.