Houston Named New CoS Dean

Following a national search, the Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Sciences has new leadership. This week, Georgia Tech announced that Paul Houston, a Cornell University professor and administrator, will be its newest dean.

Houston succeeds Gary Schuster, who assumed duties as Tech's provost last fall. Houston previously served as senior associate dean of Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences, where he balanced a diverse set of departments and programs. Schuster said Houston's qualifications - a respected professor and researcher who understands the process of conducting faculty business - matched the needs of the College.

"As a fellow chemist, I have been familiar with Paul's work for a number of years," he said. "What impressed me most are the breadth of his interests and the rigor of his research. Given his knowledge and experience, I have no doubt he will bring the same enthusiasm in guiding the College of Sciences to new heights."

Houston indicated he would like to continue the work Schuster began, positioning Tech's core science departments to meet modern research challenges in fields such as bioinformatics, photonics and nanoscience.

"Research strengths like these form a great base of both infrastructure and knowledge from which to attack new problems, bring new faculty research programs to Georgia Tech, develop new teaching programs and inspire new commercial ventures," he said. "The challenge for me as the next dean will be to strengthen and expand the College in areas where Georgia Tech has scientific advantages due to infrastructure or collaborative capabilities."

Professionally, Houston is regarded as a researcher who seeks opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. He has some ideas for fostering that kind of activity at Tech, but stressed that it won't be the only measure of success.

"Strengthening the sciences is important both for the health of the College and for the future growth of the Institute. It is neither necessary nor desirable that all the improvement in the College of Sciences be in fields with some overlap with engineering or computation, but it is likely that these areas of overlap will be among those that can find the most support from both internal and external funding sources."

At Cornell, Houston led an active research group in the fields of materials and physical chemistry, pursuing lines of investigation in photodissociation dynamics, crossed molecular beam studies of reactions, light emitting devices, and exploration of biofilms. He chaired the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology from 1997 to 2001.

Anselm Griffin, chair of the School of Polymer, Textile and Fiber Engineering and head of the search committee, said Houston's experience stood out.

"Our committee found Dr. Houston to be an excellent candidate, whose academic and administrative record was without peer. With much enthusiasm, we welcome him to Georgia Tech."

Houston earned his bachelor's degree at Yale University in 1969 and his doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973. He held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley before joining the faculty at Cornell as an assistant professor in 1975.

Writer: Michael Hagearty