Hayes named interim vice dean of graduate education

In her new role, Hayes will help envision and build the new Office of Graduate Studies and oversee all aspects of graduate education in Arts & Sciences.

Dean Feng Sheng Hu has appointed Sophia Hayes, professor of chemistry, as interim vice dean of graduate education in Arts & Sciences.

Sophia Hayes

In her new role, which went into effect July 1, Hayes serves as a member of the dean's senior leadership team and as a strategic partner in advancing research and education across Arts & Sciences. Over the course of the next academic year, she will envision and build the new Office of Graduate Studies and oversee all aspects of graduate education in Arts & Sciences.

"Graduate students are the lifeblood of WashU," said Hayes. "They push us to consider new ideas in both teaching and research, and they make the university a dynamic, exciting place to achieve new discoveries and pursue compelling scholarship."

"We all come to WashU to do one thing — to make a difference," Hayes continued. "And that’s my mission — to help these graduate students achieve their aspirations and make a difference for our communities."

As a scholar, Hayes strives to understand the structure and properties of different types of inorganic systems, including semiconductors and other optically and electronically active materials, using magnetic resonanace and other tools. She has received extensive research funding from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy, holds a patent related to optics, and has published research in numerous scientific journals. Last year she received the American Physical Society’s 5-Sigma Physicist Award in recognition of her professional service to the community. 

Hayes (right) works with former doctoral students Dustin Wheeler and Erika Sesti to align a laser that is used in nuclear magnetic resonance experiments. The Hayes lab is one of the few groups in the world that brings lasers into a lab with high-field superconducting magnets for NMR studies of laser-excited semiconductors. 

Hayes’ scientific career has been highly collaborative and interdisciplinary, involving colleagues from across the globe. She completed a large portion of her graduate and postdoctoral work overseas, where she experienced firsthand the challenges and rewards of conducting research outside of one’s home country. Graduate student training has been a key focus of her research program, and she is particularly interested in technology transfer education. Hayes also believes deeply in the importance of communicating science to the public. She has testified before Congress, engages with TEDx as a speaker and trainer, and incorporates data visualization and science communication skills throughout the courses she teaches. Hayes also co-founded the Blue Skies discussion group, with Victoria May, assistant dean in Arts & Sciences and executive director of WashU's Institute for School Partnership, where K-12 educators discuss energy and environmental issues with scientists working in these fields. 

"I’m thrilled to have found a leader with such energy, enthusiasm, and experience as Professor Hayes, and I'm grateful to have her partnership as we reorganize this area," said Hu. "Establishing a vibrant and productive environment for graduate education is critical to our school’s mission. Graduate studies bolster our research enterprise, and they are an important part of many of our students’ paths toward creating new knowledge and sharing it with the world." 

This new position arose from the ongoing reorganization of graduate education at Washington University, led by the Provost’s Office, and will allow Arts & Sciences to support, strengthen, and promote graduate studies within the school.