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Environmental Factor, February 2012

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Former NIEHS staff fellow named vice chancellor

By Eddy Ball

Robert Boswell, Ph.D.

Newly appointed vice chancellor Robert Boswell (Photo courtesy of Regents of the University of Colorado)

Former staff fellow Robert Boswell, Ph.D., began the New Year with yet another addition to his long list of honors and accomplishments since leaving NIEHS in 1986. Before moving to the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder), Boswell completed a four-year training experience at the bench, nurturing his career-long interest in the molecular and developmental genetics of Drosophila.

CU-Boulder, where Boswell earned his Ph.D. in 1981 and where he returned as an assistant professor in 1986, announced his appointment to the post of vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and community engagement, effective Jan. 1. A professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology with a long and distinguished career at CU-Boulder, Boswell had held the position on an interim basis since July 2010. In December 2011, a search committee named him the sole internal finalist for the post.

Diversity as a core value at CU-Boulder

"As vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and community engagement, Bob Boswell will continue the vital work of establishing diversity as a core value for CU-Boulder," Provost Russell Moore, Ph.D., was quoted as saying in the university’s press release. "I am charging him with building on his previous work, and that of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement [ODECE], to engage our faculty, staff and students in these essential aspects of our university environment."

"I am honored by this appointment and am eager to continue ODECE's important mission of making diversity a central part of all we do at CU-Boulder," said Boswell.

Teaching, research, and service

Boswell was a teaching and graduate research assistant while completing his doctorate at CU-Boulder from 1975 to 1981, before moving on to a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Postdoctoral Fellowship at Indiana University from 1981 to 1982, and a staff fellowship at NIEHS from 1982 to 1986. He was a member of what was then the Eukaryotic Gene Structure Section of the Laboratory of Genetics, working on projects that included a long-term study of mutation, “Analysis of Drosophila Germ Cell Determination.”

After returning to CU-Boulder in 1986, Boswell rose quickly in the ranks of academia and was promoted to full professor in 1991. While retaining his CU-Boulder faculty appointment, he also served as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator from 1994 to 1998.

Boswell became the principal investigator of the NIH Initiative for Maximizing Student Development, or IMSD, in 2003. The IMSD program encourages educational institutions with fully developed research programs to initiate or expand innovative programs to improve the academic and research capabilities of underrepresented students. Boswell was also co-director of the Colorado Diversity Initiative, which seeks to increase the diversity of students working in labs.

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