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New head named for MSU department


A biochemist with 37 years of experience has been named head of Mississippi State University’s Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology.

Jeff Dean, acting director of the Institute of Bioinformatics at the University of Georgia, will officially begin work at MSU on August 1.

Dean has served in a number of roles at UGA including professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and director of The Plant Center.

Prior to joining UGA, Dean worked as a postdoctoral researcher for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service.

Dean has spent much of his career working to identify the genes that control wood formation in forest trees. He was awarded the 2011 USDA Secretary's Honor Award as a member of the Conifer Translational Genomics Network Coordinated Agricultural Project, a project in which he served as co-investigator.

“Dr. Dean brings a wealth of experience into the Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology department,” said George Hopper, director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “We are excited to have someone of his research caliber join the university and lead one of the fastest-growing departments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.”

The MSU Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology was merged with the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology in December 2010. The department includes faculty with appointments in the college, MAFES and the MSU Extension Service.

“The Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology provides critical agricultural and environmental programs and problem solving to our state in the area of insect identification and abatement, plant diseases and youth activities, such as 4-H entomology, Bug and Plant Camp and beekeeping,” said Gary Jackson, director of the MSU Extension Service. “Dr. Dean will provide leadership in directing our exemplary departmental faculty and staff.”

Dean earned bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biology at Stanford University. He earned a doctoral degree in biochemistry from Purdue University. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Wood Science.

The Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology offers a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with 11 concentrations in two tracks: pre-professional medicine and research/science. The department also offers master’s and doctoral degrees.

To find out more about the department, visit http://www.biochemistry.msstate.edu.

Dated: 7/11/2014