Scientist Enrique M. De La Cruz to be next head of Branford College

Enrique M. De La Cruz, professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry, will serve as Branford’s next head of college for a five-year term, effective July 1, President Peter Salovey announced.

Enrique M. De La Cruz (Photo by Robert Lisak)

De La Cruz succeeds Elizabeth Bradley, who is leaving Yale to become president of Vassar College.

The Yale scientist is recognized internationally for his research on the proteins that drive cell movement, intracellular cargo transport, and the folding and function of RNA. He has published over 90 research papers and review articles, and won numerous awards and honors for both teaching and research. This year, he received the Emily M. Gray Teaching Award from the Biophysical Society for “promotion of diversity in science and education and tireless efforts as an inspiring ambassador of biophysics.”

“Equally important to his scientific contributions and skills as an educator, he is a source of wisdom for students — regardless if they’re aspiring scientists or not — on how to succeed,” wrote Salovey in a message to the Branford College community. “You will often hear him say, ‘Life has more to offer than simply what is handed to you.’ He empowers people to take full responsibility of their academic and career choices and to overcome fear of failure. With his guidance, his students have gone on to successful careers in academia, industry, and civil service, taking the lessons they have learned from him to serve all sectors of society.”

De La Cruz is a first-generation Cuban-American, born in Newark, New Jersey. He earned his B.S. from Rutgers University and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Before coming to Yale in 2001 as an assistant professor, he conducted research as a Life Sciences Research Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He has also served as a visiting professor and scientist at leading international research centers, such as Institut Curie, ESPCI Paris Tech, and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Grenoble. He credits his success to having thoughtful and inspirational mentors, including his Ph.D. adviser, researcher and educator Thomas D. Pollard, who is now Yale’s Sterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, and professor of cell biology and of molecular biophysics and biochemistry.

Joining De La Cruz at Branford will be his wife, Leslie Carmin, and their two children, Ezra Thomas (age 9) and Lucien Amauri (soon to be 6). Carmin studied art history and printmaking at Indiana University. She has worked as a curator, director, and print restorer in art galleries across the country, including those in Connecticut. Since moving to New Haven, she has balanced being an artist with arts advocacy. As Branford’s associate head of college, Carmin says, she looks forward to working in the Branford studios with students and sharing her interests in hand-made books and graphic novels. She says she would also welcome collaborating with those in the community to promote cultural events in New Haven and the surrounding area.

The couple’s children attend New Haven public schools, enjoy soccer, and are fans of Little Richard and Gorillaz. The family cat, Tobo-Maury, “will watch and show his affection with the disinterested attention that he has perfected,” say the couple.

De La Cruz will also bring to Branford his large vinyl record collection, which features obscure punk rock and ‘60s soul recordings collected from shops throughout the U.S., Europe, and Japan.

“We wish to take this opportunity to thank the members of the search committee — Jay Ague (chair), Leslie Harkema, Stephen Blum, Valerie Hansen, Dimitri Lippe ’18, Desmond Amuh ’18, and Rhea Kumar ’18 — for their thoughtful work, and to reiterate our gratitude to Head of College Betsy Bradley and Associate Head of College John Bradley for their service to the college and its students,” said Salovey.

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