Dean of the College of Arts and Science Lauren Benton has announced the appointment of two senior faculty members as divisional deans in the college. The new positions will facilitate academic planning in departments and programs within the three Arts and Science divisions: humanities, social sciences and sciences.
The divisional deans will work closely with Benton, with chairs and directors, and with the senior associate deans for undergraduate and graduate education.
“I am delighted to announce that two of our distinguished colleagues have agreed to serve as divisional deans beginning in fall 2016,” Benton said. “Both have extensive experience in academic leadership and stellar research records.”
David Wright, Stevenson Professor of Chemistry, will serve as the inaugural dean of sciences. Kamal Saggi, Frances and John Downing Family Professor of Economics, will become the inaugural dean of social sciences. Benton expects to appoint a dean of humanities by fall 2017.
Wright is a leading scholar of neglected tropical infectious diseases and an innovator in the field of diagnostics. He is the author or co-author of more than 90 peer-reviewed articles and is known for innovative interdisciplinary research spanning chemistry, physics, parasitology, virology and biomedical engineering.
For the past decade, Wright and his research group have been attempting to unravel the mechanism of heme detoxification within the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of malaria. More recent efforts have focused on the challenges of innovation in low-resource diagnostics. Wright has received numerous grants in support of his research from a wide variety of sources, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Wright received his B.A. in classics and his B.S. in chemistry from Tulane University in 1988 and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. He joined the Department of Chemistry at Vanderbilt as an assistant professor in 2001 and was named chair of the department in 2014. He is an active participant in a number of Vanderbilt’s trans-institutional initiatives, including the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health, the Vanderbilt Institute for Nanoscale Science and Engineering and the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology. In 2011, Wright was named a Kavli Fellow at the Frontiers of Science in cooperation with the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. In 2015, he was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Saggi is internationally recognized for his work in the areas of intellectual property rights, international trade, and economic development. His research focuses on the complex inter-relationships between the protection of intellectual property rights, the flows of foreign direct investment, and the diffusion of technology in the global economy. He also has written extensively on the economic underpinnings of the rules and regulations underlying the global multilateral trading system.
Saggi has published more than 60 papers in leading academic journals and dozens of articles in edited volumes and handbooks. He also has been an adviser and consultant to a variety of think tanks and policy institutions on a wide range of issues related to international trade and economic development.
Saggi received his B.A. in economics from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1990 and his Ph.D. in economics in 1995 from the University of Pennsylvania. He has served as director of the Vanderbilt Department of Economics’ Graduate Program in Economic Development since 2010 and as chair of the Department of Economics since 2014. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Saggi was the Dedman Distinguished Collegiate Professor of Economics at Southern Methodist University, where he served as chair of the economics department from 2006 to 2009.
“I look forward to the transition to the new divisional deans structure in Arts and Science and am thrilled at the prospect of working alongside Professor Wright and Professor Saggi in their new roles,” Benton said. “For the 2016-17 academic year, I will continue to work directly with humanities chairs and directors on all aspects of academic planning until the inaugural dean of humanities is named.”