Jeffrey F.D. Dean, a distinguished scholar and academic leader whose interdisciplinary research focuses on forestry, plant biology and biochemistry, has been named assistant provost and director of the University of Georgia’s Griffin campus, effective Jan. 1, 2023. In this role, he will oversee all research, extension and academic programs at UGA Griffin.
Since 2014, Dean has served as a professor and head of the department of biochemistry, molecular biology, entomology and plant pathology at Mississippi State University, one of the largest academic units in the university’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“Dr. Dean has a tremendous track record of growing enrollment, developing innovative academic programs and strengthening partnerships with communities and industry,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I believe he will be a catalyst for advancing scholarship, research and outreach at our Griffin campus, and I look forward to welcoming him to our leadership team.”
Under Dean’s leadership, the department of biochemistry, molecular biology, entomology and plant pathology doubled enrollment in its bachelor’s degree program in biochemistry, launched an accelerated five-year master’s degree program for high-achieving students and significantly renovated its instructional and administrative buildings. Working with Mississippi State University Extension, Dean was instrumental in creating a public-private partnership to deliver pesticide applicator safety training online, and he led efforts to raise funds for a new termite technician training facility.
Prior to joining Mississippi State, Dean served in several teaching, research and leadership positions at UGA. He was a member of the faculty in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources from 1996 to 2014 and served as director of the Plant Center from 2002 to 2005. From 2008 to 2014, he held a joint appointment as a professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. During his tenure in Franklin College, Dean served as graduate coordinator of the bioinformatics program and as associate director and acting director of UGA’s Institute of Bioinformatics.
“Over the course of his career, Dr. Dean has proven to be an innovative and collaborative leader who is deeply committed to students and to impactful, community-focused research and outreach,” said S. Jack Hu, UGA’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “I am confident he will further advance excellence in teaching, research and service at UGA Griffin.”
Dean’s scholarship focuses on improving understanding of the formation and biodegradation of lignocellulosic materials and improving the efficiency of production and utilization of biomass materials. His work has been supported by more than $4 million in funding from agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency. He is the author or co-author of more than 90 peer-reviewed journal articles and other publications.
“We are excited to welcome Dr. Dean back to UGA as the assistant provost and director for our Griffin campus,” said Nick Place, dean and director of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Over his career, Dr. Dean has proven to be a visionary leader and teacher, and I am confident that the Griffin campus will continue to reach new heights of innovation under his leadership.”
While at UGA, Dean’s research examined how conifers grow and develop in response to environmental stresses. His work on conifer genomics and forest health led to several invitations to serve on scientific advisory boards for large-scale projects in Canada and Europe. Many of his collaborations in this area continue today. In addition, he serves on several grant and advisory boards both domestically and internationally.
“It is both a thrill and an honor to accept this opportunity to return to the University of Georgia to lead the Griffin campus,” said Dean. “So much of the success I’ve enjoyed in my career has come about because of the many unique opportunities and collaborations I was offered at UGA. I look forward helping faculty, staff and students at the Griffin campus advance their own careers in a similar fashion. UGA Griffin benefits greatly from the strong and steadfast support of the local community, and with a number of unique teaching and research resources available to faculty and students, UGA Griffin is poised to achieve great things.”
Dean’s honors include the USDA Secretary’s Honor Award for Excellence and the USDA Merit Award. He is an elected member of the Gamma Sigma Delta agriculture honor society and the Sigma Xi scientific research honor society. In addition, Dean is a fellow of the International Academy of Wood Science and the Southeastern Conference Administrative Leadership Development Program.
Dean received his bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biology from Stanford University and earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Purdue University.
A 15-member search advisory committee chaired by Ron Walcott, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School, helped identify finalists for the position.