Santiago Schnell, chair of the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Michigan Medical School, has been appointed the William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
Schnell’s appointment is effective Sept. 1. He will also hold a tenured appointment as professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Science.
Under Schnell’s leadership, the University of Michigan Medical School’s Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology has been the top National Institutes of Health-funded physiology department in the nation. He has also led strong growth in the department’s operating revenue and investments as well as a significant increase in its endowment. In addition to serving as department chair, Schnell is the John A. Jacquez Professor of Physiology and a professor of molecular and integrative physiology as well as computational medicine and bioinformatics.
“Santiago is an internationally recognized expert in theoretical and mathematical biology, an accomplished academic leader and someone who is attracted by Notre Dame’s distinctive Catholic mission,” Father Jenkins said. “I am delighted to welcome Santiago to the University of Notre Dame family and look forward to working with him in the coming years.”
In a prior role at the University of Michigan Medical School, Schnell was the basic science and faculty research lead for the medical school’s Office for Health Equity and Inclusion, where he guided the development and implementation of the strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion for 10 departments and units within the basic sciences. Before joining the medical school, Schnell taught at Indiana University, where he was an adjunct assistant professor of physics, an assistant professor of informatics and affiliated faculty with the Latino Studies Program.
Schnell has received multiple honors for teaching and research — including being named a 21st Century Scientist Scholar by the James S. McDonnell Foundation and an Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine by the National Academy of Medicine. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Mathematical Biology and the Academia de Ciencias de América Latina (Latin American Academy of Sciences).
“Santiago will be a wonderful addition to the College of Science and to the University of Notre Dame. His award-winning research has led to breakthroughs in the biomedical sciences, and he brings a similar innovative and forward-thinking approach to undergraduate and graduate education as well as a commitment to engagement with the broader world,” Marie Lynn Miranda, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at Notre Dame, said. “Santiago is an exceptional scientist, a gifted educator and a mission-driven global citizen — a perfect leader for Notre Dame.”
As dean of the College of Science, Schnell will lead six departments comprising more than 250 faculty, 125 staff, 480 graduate students and 2,000 undergraduates. He will guide the college to fulfill its mission to prepare the scientific leaders of tomorrow and its commitment to fostering advancements that answer the world’s toughest questions and solve its most enduring problems.
Currently editor-in-chief of the scientific journal Mathematical Biosciences, Schnell also sits on the editorial boards of Biomath, Current Opinion in Systems Biology, Cancer Research, Biophysical Chemistry, Biomolecular Concepts and the Journal of Theoretical Biology. In addition, he is a member of the Standards for Reporting Enzymology Data Commission. He has published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles, several book chapters and one book.
“I am honored and privileged to serve as the William K. Warren Dean of the College of Science. The college plays a central role in nurturing generations of scientists through its research, education and service opportunities within the University of Notre Dame’s Catholic intellectual tradition,” Schnell said. “I look forward to working alongside an impressive group of faculty members and staff as we answer cutting-edge scientific questions, while educating the future scientific leaders who also seek to contribute to human flourishing.”
Schnell received his undergraduate degree in biology from Universidad Simón Bolívar in Venezuela and earned his doctorate in mathematical biology from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. After completing his doctoral studies, he held two prestigious research positions at Oxford — junior research fellow at the Christ Church college and Wellcome Trust research fellow at the Wolfson Centre for Mathematical Biology.
Active in several academic and professional societies, Schnell is past president of the Society for Mathematical Biology and serves as chair of both the finance committee and the past presidents advisory board of that organization. He is also a council member of the Association of Chairs for the Department of Physiology and a life member of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Latinos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). He is a faculty founder and mentor of the University of Michigan chapter of SACNAS, which has been recognized with SACNAS’ Best Chapter Award and the Outstanding Recruitment/Membership Award.
“I’m extremely grateful to the members of the search committee for their guidance throughout this process,” Miranda said. “They helped to cultivate a talented and capable pool of candidates and thoughtfully evaluated each applicant to find a dean who would bring energy, enthusiasm, vision and goodwill to this important role.”
The search committee was convened after Mary Galvin stepped down as dean in December for health reasons. Michael Hildreth was named interim dean in January. Hildreth, a professor in the Department of Physics, will resume his role as associate dean of research and graduate studies in the College of Science in the fall.
“Stepping into an interim role in the middle of an academic year and a pandemic is not an easy situation, but Mike did so without hesitation and continued to advance the efforts begun by Mary Galvin while providing much-needed consistency to the students and faculty of the College of Science,” Miranda said. “On behalf of everyone at the University, I thank Mike for his selflessness and partnership.”