Carol Fierke, a University of Michigan professor and current chair of the Department of Chemistry, will serve as dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and vice provost for academic affairs-graduate studies beginning Sept. 1.
The U-M Board of Regents today approved her appointment for a five-year term. Provost Martha E. Pollack recommended Fierke for the position following a national search to replace Dean Janet Weiss, who steps down Aug. 31 after a decade of service.
In making her recommendation, Pollack said, "Professor Fierke is a remarkable academic administrator with a demonstrated record of excellence, especially in the transformation of the Department of Chemistry.
"She led the development of a strategic plan to strengthen the department, which resulted in increases in ranking, external funding and the graduate student population, including the initiation of a new chemistry master's program. Under her leadership the Department of Chemistry was also very successful in significantly increasing the representation of women and underrepresented minority faculty."
Fierke has professorships in chemistry and biophysics in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, and biological chemistry in the Medical School.
"I'm honored to serve the University of Michigan in this important leadership role," Fierke said. "I look forward to working with my new colleagues to further enhance the experience of graduate study for students and faculty."
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry from Carleton College and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Brandeis University. Prior to joining the U-M faculty in 1999, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in chemistry at Pennsylvania State University. She also served on the faculty of the Biochemistry Department at Duke University Medical Center and in the biochemistry and chemistry departments at Duke University.
Her research is directed at understanding the mechanisms used by biological catalysts, both proteins and nucleic acids, to achieve high efficiency and stringent specificity, focusing particularly on the mechanism of medically important metalloenzymes.
She has published 217 research articles and reviews, and has three patents. Her research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health, and has been funded by a number of other agencies and foundations, including the National Science Foundation, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Office of Naval Research and Keck Foundation.
She has taught undergraduate courses in biochemistry and graduate courses in bioorganic chemistry, research ethics and other topics, while mentoring postdoctoral fellows, doctoral students, master's degree students and undergraduates.
Among Fierke's many U-M honors, she received the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award in 2005, Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award in 2009, Rackham Distinguished Graduate Mentoring Award in 2011 and Hollenshead Award for Promoting Equity & Social Change in 2013.
She previously served the Department of Chemistry as chair from 2005 to 2009. In 2013, she was awarded the title of Jerome and Isabella Karle Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry.