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2020 State of the College: Celebrating our Innovation, Collaboration and Resilience

October 2, 2020

The State of the College event of the College of Natural Sciences gives new and returning members of the college community an opportunity to celebrate achievements and to hear from the dean about goals and initiatives for the current academic year and beyond.


This year’s State of the College took place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 350 faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students pre-registered for an online event hosted by dean Tricia Serio, as well as associate dean for research and innovation Mark Tuominen. Director of multi-modal learning April Bellafiore moderated the last half of the program.

Dean Serio briefly welcomed attendees to the event and then asked Dean Tuominen to review this past year’s CNS Outstanding Award winners, as well as the winner of the Mahoney Life Sciences Award. Eleven faculty and staff, plus the student-led BRiDGE Coordination Committee, were recognized for their outstanding leadership, teaching, research, and excellence in diversity and inclusion. Mahoney prize winner Derek Lovley was also highlighted for his groundbreaking research on protein nanowires, which has received international attention.

“I’m so proud of the effort you have all put in and am aware of the work that has gone into moving us to remote operations, all while continuing to do the important work of the college,” said Serio. “Your ongoing excellence is a tribute to our core missions of education, research and outreach.”

Typically, the State of the College also provides a venue to celebrate new faculty and staff who have joined the college. But due to a shortened program schedule, a full list of new hires was made available after the program instead.

Dean Serio then reviewed numerous education, outreach, and research accomplishments over the past year, as well as the challenges presented by a move to remote learning for faculty and students, and remote operations for CNS staff. She also shared details about the budget cuts the university has had to make across campus due to the ongoing fiscal pressures presented by the pandemic.

However, Dean Serio emphasized that despite the past year’s challenges, the College of Natural Sciences prides itself on its collective spirit of innovation, collaboration and resilience. This spirit as well as the dedication to excellence expressed by its faculty, staff and students, are what will keep the college moving forward.

Serio added “Today I presented a small snapshot of the dedication and amazing work that we all do. I thank you for your incredible effort to make this college as great as it is.”

The full presentation can be found on the CNS website.

The program this year was also different from previous years in that the college’s associate deans appeared on a panel with Dean Serio to answer live and pre-submitted questions from attendees. Questions ranged from the mental health of Black students to the university budget to the ongoing sustainability efforts of the college.

A video with highlights of the event will be posted to the CNS website shortly. Materials and content from this year’s State of the College, as well as those dating back to 2018, are also available at

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