The Regents of the University of Michigan have approved the selection of Chris Poulsen, professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES), as the associate dean for natural sciences at the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Poulsen also is a professor of climate and space sciences and engineering in the College of Engineering. His role as associate dean will begin on July 1, 2018.

Poulsen succeeds Douglas O. Richstone, the Lawrence H. Aller Collegiate Professor of Astronomy, who has served as associate dean of natural sciences since 2015.

“I am proud to welcome Professor Poulsen to this critical role within the college,” says LSA Dean Andrew D. Martin. “The natural sciences are at the core of our mission to provide students with a broad and flexible education that emphasizes curiosity, collaboration, and adaptation. With the opening of our new Biological Sciences Building this fall, the reopening of the Museum of Natural History next spring, and the continued growth of our Opportunity Hub, LSA is at the forefront of new ideas and cutting-edge research across disciplines. With his background and expertise, Professor Poulsen is ideally suited to build on the important progress that has been facilitated by Doug Richstone and to lead these efforts on to continued success.”

As chair of EES since 2014, Poulsen led a department with a graduate program that earned a top-ten ranking by U.S. News & World Report in 2018.

In his role as associate dean, Poulsen will oversee more than 20 LSA units in the natural sciences, covering everything from applied physics and astronomy to complex systems, mathematics, paleontology, and ecology and evolutionary biology. LSA scientists have peered inside ancient seeds and put tiny helmets on mice. They have trekked to the university’s Biological Station, Camp Davis, and every corner of the globe for field experiments. They have photographed the deepest reaches of the universe, all to better understand the physical world through observational and empirical evidence.

“The natural science units in LSA are incredibly broad and vibrant. It’s a privilege to lead this division and build on Doug Richstone’s accomplishments. During my term, I look forward to facilitating cutting-edge collaborative research and teaching across the division, engaging undergraduate students in all aspects of the research mission, and working to make available new technologies and computing resources for our faculty and students,” says Poulsen, who studies large-scale climate change through Earth’s history.

As part of its expanding emphasis on collaborative and interdisciplinary research in the natural sciences, LSA will unveil a new seven-floor, 300,000-square-foot Biological Sciences Building this fall. The building will be home to state-of-the-art research laboratories and classrooms, as well as the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology; LSA’s Biological Station offices; and four separate museums: LSA’s Museum of Paleontology, LSA’s Museum of Zoology, LSA’s Herbarium, and the U-M Museum of Natural History, which will open in spring 2019.

The new building is designed to put “science on display,” according to Amy Harris, director of the Museum of Natural History. Those entering the building will be able to see the work being done by students, faculty, and scientists on the first and second floors, while the Museum of Natural History will provide a “visual centerpiece” to the new structure.

Poulsen adds, “The BSB will be a tremendous new facility. Not only do our colleagues in the biological sciences gain a much-needed modern facility, but the BSB also allows us to showcase the scientific discoveries made in LSA and provides an updated home for the Museum of Natural History, one of U-M’s most popular attractions.”


Photo by Dale Austin