Dan Starr Named New CBS Associate Dean of Research

Dan Starr sitting in laboratory setting beside computer screen on which is an image of the roundworm.
Dan Starr, a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, pictured with an image of the 1-millimeter-long roundworm (Cenorhabditis elegans), which he uses to study how organisms develop. (Sasha Bakhter / UC Davis)

Dan Starr Named New CBS Associate Dean of Research

With a focus on enhancing the college’s research portfolio, Starr will support interdisciplinary study and opportunity among faculty

Dan Starr, a cell biologist and professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, has been named the new Associate Dean of Research for the College of Biological Sciences. He will step into the role on October 1, 2023.

“I see this position as an opportunity to encourage my colleagues to branch out and expand into new research areas,” said Starr. “Our research portfolio at CBS is already very strong. My goal is to build on our successes and to support future growth in our research programs.”

A background in life sciences and mentorship

Starr, who arrived at UC Davis in 2003, uses the 1-millimeter-long roundworm (Cenorhabditis elegans) to study mechanisms governing the localization of organelles within developing tissues. By studying mutations in C. elegans, he has been able to discern how disruptions in internal cellular organization impact the biophysical properties of the cell and in turn, how that affects development of the organism. Starr’s work may help researchers better understand developmental diseases like muscular dystrophy.

Starr is also a driving force behind the Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program at UC Davis, which supports students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the biomedical sciences by providing research opportunities and professional development.  

“I am delighted that Dan will be leading our interdisciplinary and research funding efforts,” said Mark Winey, dean of the College of Biological Sciences. “He is well-connected to his peers and colleagues, and has an outstanding track record of supporting and mentoring students. Dan is an asset to our college community, and with this leadership position he’ll be poised to make an even bigger difference.”

In the role of associate dean, Starr will work closely with the college’s faculty, department chairs, center directors and the dean to support faculty recruitment and retention, as well as research requirements within the college. This collaborative approach will ensure that the college’s research ecosystem remains vibrant and forward-looking.

Dan Starr in laboratory setting with students
The BESt lab, named for Professors Sean Burgess (B), JoAnne Engebrecht (E) and Daniel Starr (St), allows students to participate in NIH-funded, cutting-edge research that explores the underpinnings of human disease. (Sasha Bakhter / UC Davis)

Outgoing excellence and a lasting difference

Starr succeeds Gregg Recanzone, a professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, who served as the college’s associate dean of research and resources for the last eight years. “It’s been a pleasure working with the department chairs and center directors, the faculty, CAOs, staff and the team at the dean's office,” said Recanzone. “Dean Winey's leadership has created a culture of striving for excellence in the college, which made my job that much easier.

Of Recanzone’s tenure, Winey said: “Gregg’s service to our college and campus community can’t be overstated. From leading the renovation of 11,000 square feet of laboratory space in Briggs Hall, to supporting interdisciplinary research and faculty who were applying for significant grants, his work will have long-lasting impacts on our researchers and students.”

Recanzone is credited by many across campus for his instrumental role in elevating the research profile of CBS faculty, and for securing numerous research funding opportunities that have propelled the college to new heights.

About the position

The CBS Associate Dean of Research is tasked with guiding and supporting the research activities of the college’s faculty. A primary goal of this position is to identify fresh research funding avenues for faculty and to provide them with the necessary support to engage in these opportunities. These efforts are achieved through collaboration with campus partners, including the Office of Research, the Administrative Coordinating Council of Deans, the Biomedical Research Council, the Vice Provost for Grand Challenges, and fellow Associate Deans from various colleges and schools.

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