A rts & Sciences is the core of Washington University. Our school
encompasses the study of established subject areas such as Classics and Philosophy as well as newly emerging fields of inquiry such as Environmental Studies, evolutionary biology and neuroscience.
Arts & Sciences is old and new, breadth and balance, tradition and innovation. We support the enterprise of the university both through our foundational research activities and through our teaching mission, which reaches all Washington University undergraduates over the course of their educational career.
What we do, we do with excellence. We have distinguished faculty in every major discipline who embody the best in scholarship and academic teaching and who contribute fundamental knowledge to applied studies in areas such Art and Architecture, Business, Engineering, Law, Medicine and Social Work.
We welcome your participation in our educational mission and our pursuit of new knowledge.
Barbara Schaal, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences
The Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences
Born in Berlin, Germany, Schaal grew up in Chicago and earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in biology in 1969 from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She earned a master’s degree in 1971 and a doctorate in 1974, both in population biology from Yale University. Schaal was on the faculty of the University of Houston and Ohio State University before joining Washington University in 1980 as associate professor in biology. She became a full professor in 1986 and was named the Spencer T. Olin Professor in Arts & Sciences in 2001 and the inaugural recipient of the Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professorship in 2009.
She was among the first plant scientists to use molecular biology-based approaches to understand evolutionary processes in plants, and she has worked to advance understanding of plant molecular systematics and population genetics. Her recent work includes collaborating with students and peers to research the evolutionary genetics of plants in hopes of enriching crops such a cassava — the sixth-most important food crop in the world — and rice.
A member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1999, she was elected as the academy’s first woman vice president in 2005. She won re-election to the four-year post in 2009.
President Barack Obama appointed Schaal to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in April 2009 and in 2012, then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appointed Schaal as one of three new science envoys to advise the White House, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. scientific community about the insights they gain from their travels and interactions abroad. In June 2013, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) appointed Schaal chair of a 24-member advisory group that is leading NAS’ new Gulf of Mexico program. The $500 million, 30-year Gulf of Mexico program was established as part of the settlements of federal criminal complaints against British Petroleum and Transocean Ltd. following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, which resulted in 11 deaths, 17 injuries and the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
Schaal has been president of the Botanical Society of America and of the Society for the Study of Evolution. In addition to her research and national service, Schaal also has been an active member of the WUSTL community, serving as chair of the biology department from 1993-97.
In 2011-2012, she directed Tyson Research Center, overseeing operations of the 2,000-acre environmental research station some 20 miles southwest of the Danforth Campus. She has served on numerous WUSTL committees, including the Academic Planning Committee in Arts & Sciences, the Curriculum Implementation Committee and the University Affirmative Action Committee.
Schaal has received numerous prestigious awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Key Award from the American Genetics Association and most recently, the American Institute of Biological Sciences Distinguished Scientist Award for 2011-12.
At WUSTL, where she regularly involves undergraduates in her labs and mentors graduate and postdoctoral students, she has received the Founders Day Distinguished Faculty Award, the Arthur Holly Compton Faculty Achievement Award and the Graduate Student Senate Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award.