April 07, 2022

Susquehanna University has named Katherine Straub as dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences.

Straub has been serving as interim dean since August 2021.

“Kathy has had a long and successful tenure at Susquehanna, and I am thrilled that she will continue on as dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences permanently,” University Provost Dave Ramsaran said. “Kathy not only has significant institutional knowledge of Susquehanna, she also has a passion for scholarship and a drive to see Susquehanna expand its horizons and that of its students. All of this, combined with the esteem in which she is held by her colleagues, ensures she will lead the School of Natural and Social Sciences to much success.”

As dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences, Straub will oversee eight academic departments comprised of 59 full-time faculty members. She will work collaboratively with university leadership to advance the institution’s mission and further develop its academic programs. She will drive excellence in curricula, teaching and learning, academic advising, scholarship and creative activities, faculty development and innovation that reflect Susquehanna’s emphasis on academic achievement. Straub will also be a member of University President Jonathan Green’s Senior Leadership Team, the Provost Council and the University Council.

“As a young female earth scientist, I had very few academic role models who would have allowed me to envision myself where I am today. I am honored to be given this opportunity by the colleagues I have valued working with over the past 20 years,” Straub said. “I look forward to continuing to support our excellent faculty in their teaching and scholarship and to preparing an increasingly diversified student body for meaningful and productive careers.”

A History of Service to Susquehanna

Straub joined Susquehanna in 2002 as assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences. She was promoted to associate professor in 2008 and achieved full professor standing in 2014, at which time she was also elected chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

While Straub was chair of the department, it saw significant enrollment increases. She also worked with her peers in other academic departments to develop an interdisciplinary minor in sustainability management and major in environmental studies.

In 2017, Straub was named director of Susquehanna’s Center for Environmental Education and Research. In this position, she created the Office of Sustainability and hired and mentored the university’s first sustainability coordinator, both of which led to Susquehanna’s 2020 silver certification by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Sustainability Tracking and Reporting System.

As director of the CEER, Straub also oversees the Freshwater Research Institute, an externally funded ecology lab with two full-time staff members, and the 87-acre CEER property adjacent to campus that includes a 3-megawatt solar array, ecology and environmental science research sites, a demonstration riparian buffer, apiary and a student-run campus garden. She developed a 2021 summer internship program through the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education that placed students with partner organizations and provided intentional vocational discernment programming, something she plans to expand upon as dean. She also co-wrote proposals leading to $1.6 million in funding to support the work and research of the FRI.

Straub has been an active faculty member outside of her academic duties at Susquehanna, sitting on various committees, task forces and work groups, including the Committee on Sustainability, Persistence Task Force, Presidential Search Committee, Project-Based Learning Working Group, Women in STEM, and the Faculty Affairs, Faculty Personnel and Faculty Scholarship committees.

Straub is an award-winning teacher and prolific researcher and writer, having published and presented on her atmospheric science research in many peer-reviewed scientific journals and at professional conferences across the United States and internationally. Most recently Straub has been awarded Susquehanna’s John C. Horn Award for Distinguished Scholarship and Creative Activity and Joel Cunningham Service-Learning Faculty of the Year.

Straub earned her bachelor’s degree in earth and planetary sciences from Harvard University in 1994. She went on to earn her master’s degree and doctorate in atmospheric science from Colorado State University in 1999 and 2002, respectively.

In 2021, Susquehanna restructured the School of Arts and Sciences into three schools — School of the Arts, School of Humanities and School of Natural and Social Sciences — and they are overseen by two deans. The School of Natural and Social Sciences encompasses the departments of biology, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, mathematics and computer science, physics, political science, psychology, and sociology and anthropology.

Susquehanna was assisted by executive search firm Spelman Johnson.