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Environmental Factor, May 2012

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Former staff fellow to head UMES

By Eddy Ball

Juliette Bell, Ph.D.

Bell’s commitment to service includes a position on the National Science Foundation’s Biological Sciences Advisory Committee and as a consultant to the Association of American Colleges and Universities. (Photo courtesy of UMES)

Biochemist Juliette Bell, Ph.D., a former NIEHS staff fellow and research biologist, will become the next president of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) July 1, according to a press release issued in March. Bell will complete the academic year in her current position as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. 

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With a bachelor’s degree from Talladega College and a Ph.D. from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) in chemistry, Bell became one of the first Carolina Minority Postdoctoral Scholars at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1987, where she also received an NIH National Research Service Award. In 1990, she continued her postdoctoral studies as a staff fellow at NIEHS.

Under the guidance of NIEHS senior scientist Thomas Kunkel, Ph.D., she studied the accuracy of DNA synthesis by exonuclease-deficient E. coli DNA polymerase I and was one of the first to produce an exonuclease-deficient form of a eukaryotic DNA polymerase.

“Juliette is a dedicated and exceptional scientist,” Kunkel said of his former colleague. “But she is also a visionary who has worked hard to open doors for women and other underrepresented populations in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I think her new position will allow her to have an even greater impact in both pursuits.”

A stellar academic career

Bell left NIEHS for a tenure track position at Fayetteville State University (FSU) in 1992, where she pursued her scientific interest with a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award and an NIH Minority Biomedical Research Support grant. She rose quickly in the academic ranks, making full professor in 1998, as she directed first the FSU Biomedical Research Program (1993-2006) and then the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (2002-2006).

In 2004, Bell began to take on more administrative duties at FSU as dean of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, prior to assuming the roles of provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs in 2006. Following a research sabbatical in 2009, she accepted her current position at Central State University.

In recognition of her quality of teaching and leadership, Bell has received a number of awards during her career. They include being one of only four individuals in the nation to receive the Millennium Award for Excellence in Teaching from the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities in 2000.

She was also named a Giant in Science by the Quality Education for Minorities/Math Science Education Network and Teacher of the Year at FSU. She has earned the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education Research Excellence Award; the Minority Access, Inc., National Role Model Mentoring Award; and the prestigious University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Looking forward

"I am extremely delighted and humbled to be selected as the next president of a great institution,” Bell was quoted as saying about her appointment. “I look forward … to continue building upon the tremendous 125-year legacy of UMES.”

One of the 13 institutions of the University System of Maryland, UMES is a land-grant university and is recognized as one of the nation’s leading historically black institutions. Located in Princess Anne, Md., the institution is well known for its distinctive array of undergraduate and graduate academic programs.

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