Paul Koch named dean of physical and biological sciences

paul koch
Paul Koch (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

UC Santa Cruz has appointed Paul Koch to serve as dean of the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences, effective August 1. Koch, a professor of Earth and planetary sciences, has served as interim dean since July 2011.

An internationally recognized paleontologist, ecologist, and geochemist, Koch joined the UCSC faculty in 1996 and served as chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences from 2006 to 2011. He received the Charles Schuchert Award from the Paleontological Society in 1998 and is a fellow of the Paleontological Society and the Geological Society of America.

"Chancellor Blumenthal and I are impressed with Paul Koch's ideas and leadership skills. We believe that he has much to offer the Physical and Biological Sciences Division and the campus as a whole," said Alison Galloway, campus provost and executive vice chancellor of UCSC.

Koch said he sees many opportunities to build on the excellence of the science programs at UC Santa Cruz. "Despite their youth and relatively small size, the science programs at UCSC pack a big punch in research both nationally and internationally. A key goal for me will be to magnify that impact through partnerships with other schools, labs, agencies, and industry and through increased funding from grants and philanthropy," he said. "We can also leverage our research excellence to offer students more opportunities to learn outside the classroom--in the field or research labs, or as interns with local companies and agencies."

The rising enrollment of underrepresented and first-generation college students also presents a tremendous opportunity for the campus, Koch said. "If the diversity of students receiving degrees in science and engineering was similar to that of the campus as a whole, UCSC could have a transformative impact nationwide," he said.

Koch is known for his research on the ecology and evolution of vertebrate animals, which often involves reconstruction of ancient ecosystems and climates to understand the environmental context in which prehistoric animals lived. He earned his B.A. in geology and English at the University of Rochester and his M.S. and Ph.D. in geological sciences from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The Division of Physical and Biological Sciences, with nine departments and more than a half-dozen institutes and research units, offers a broad range of programs, including 18 undergraduate degrees and 11 graduate training programs. In round numbers, the division has about 150 faculty members, 250 researchers, 450 graduate students, and 4,000 undergraduates. It has helped UCSC grow into a major research institution, while holding on to the campus's traditional strengths--a multidisciplinary approach to asking and answering questions and an innovative approach to undergraduate education.