Yale President Richard C. Levin Tuesday named biochemist and innovative educator Scott Strobel as vice-president of West Campus Planning and Program Development, to oversee the second phase of growth at Yale’s 136-acre facility in West Haven.
Strobel will build upon the efforts of his predecessor Michael Donoghue, the G. Evelyn Hutchinson Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, who developed the overall blueprint and launched many major initiatives at the site during his two-year term as the inaugural West Campus czar.
“We are in Michael’s debt for his leadership that has led to such exceptional progress in the development of the West Campus,” Levin said. “We will now look to Scott Strobel to carry forward our ambitious agenda for West Campus, which includes recruiting world-class scientists to Yale, reinforcing Yale’s extraordinary strength in the arts, and enhancing the quality of our community programs.”
Strobel, the Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and past chair of the department, is an expert on the structure and function of RNA, a field in which Yale is a recognized world leader. He also has a passion for improving science education. With a Professor Grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Strobel annually takes students to South American rainforests to collect materials for the isolation and study of new microorganisms. The goal is to create a stimulating environment for the study of science, an aspiration he hopes to take to a new level at West Campus.
“There are a lot of great things coming on line at the West Campus, particularly in the biological arena,” Strobel said. “There is still opportunity for more involvement from the physical sciences and engineering as the institutes are implemented and for the creation of a sixth institute related to energy research."
Donoghue was appointed by Levin in the fall of 2008 to develop and implement a plan for the site, which was purchased from Bayer Healthcare the year before. The site contains a cluster of 17 buildings and includes 1.6 million square feet of research, office and warehouse space.
Under Donoghue, the West Campus has come to life, with nearly 200 resident scientists and staff: regularly scheduled conferences and symposia: and the creation of dozens of diverse programs from art conservation to outdoor education for students in the region. The original vision for the campus was to create a multidisciplinary platform to advance the study of science, a goal that was largely accomplished in the last two years. Five new institutes have been formed: Cancer Biology, Chemical Biology, Biodesign, Systems Biology, and Microbial Diversity. There is also a new high-performance computing center, and three major “core” facilities are up and running: a facility for High Throughput Cell Biology, a Small Molecule Discovery Center, and a Center for Genome Analysis.
“I am delighted to have served Yale in helping to get the West Campus off the ground,” Donoghue said. “It has been especially exciting and educational for me to work with so many superb faculty, administrators, and staff across the entire University. I’m absolutely certain that the West Campus will blossom under Scott Strobel’s leadership.”
Stephanie S. Spangler, M.D., deputy provost for health affairs, will stay on as associate vice-president for West Campus Planning to provide continuity.
A graduate of Brigham Young University, Strobel earned his Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology. Prior to coming to Yale in 1995, he did postdoctoral work with Nobel Prize winner Thomas R. Cech at the University of Colorado.
Strobel was honored in 2008 with the Schering Plough Research Institute Award by the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. His other honors include Yale's Dylan Hixon Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Natural Sciences, a Yale Graduate Mentoring Award in the Sciences, and a Searle Scholar Award. He also was named a National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow.