Staci Simonich to lead

By Sean Nealon

Staci Simonich of Oregon State University. Credit: Rob Kerr/OSU Cascades.

 Staci Simonich, a nationally recognized researcher and faculty member who has held numerous leadership positions at Oregon State University over two decades, has been named dean of the university’s College of Agricultural Sciences and director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. As dean, she is also appointed the Reub A. Long Professor.

Simonich will start as the first woman to serve as dean of the college on March 28. She has served as acting dean of the college since March 1 and as executive associate dean for nearly two years. From 2018 to 2020, she served as associate vice president for OSU research operations and integrity.

“The College of Agricultural Sciences, Oregon’s farmers, ranchers and stakeholders, and our state, nation and world will be very well served by Staci as dean,” said Edward Feser, OSU’s provost and executive vice president. “Staci has been instrumental in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the college. She has been tireless in cultivating faculty, staff, and stakeholder relationships across the state; visiting and engaging with all of OSU’s experiment stations and stakeholders, and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion goals within the college.”

Simonich will oversee a college with more than 3,000 students, 290 tenure-track faculty and more than $90 million in annual research expenditures, and that has been ranked among the top agricultural programs in the world. The college has 13 academic departments and more than 40 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The college leads research at agricultural experiment stations at 14 locations throughout the state and its teaching, research and community engagement programs provide impact throughout Oregon, the nation and the world.

“I am both humbled and excited to lead OSU’s inaugural college,” Simonich said. “Now more than ever, we must be out there working collaboratively with Oregon’s densely diverse agricultural and natural resource industries and communities to advance scientific discovery, create economic opportunity, develop future leaders, and strive each day to make tomorrow better.”

Simonich arrived at Oregon State in 2001 as an assistant professor with a research focus on how chemicals move through the environment. She became a professor in 2011 and served as associate head of the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology from 2015 to 2017. In 2017 and 2018, she held the position of associate dean for academic and student affairs in Oregon State’s College of Science.

With more 120 peer reviewed publications, her research focuses on understanding the fate, chemistry and transport of pesticides and other semi-volatile organic compounds, as well as human and environmental exposure to these pollutants. Her research has been published in Science, Nature, Environmental Health Perspectives, Environmental Science & Technology and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

During her tenure at Oregon State, Simonich has mentored 30 doctorate and master’s students and 24 undergraduate students in her laboratory. Over her career, she has received more than $15 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Department of Defense and Department of Interior.

In 2021, Simonich became a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Criteria for selection include pioneering research, leadership within a given field, teaching and mentoring, fostering collaborations and advancing public understanding of science.

Prior to joining Oregon State, Simonich worked in the consumer product industry with Procter & Gamble for six years.  She received her doctorate in chemistry from Indiana University, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and a Master of Business Administration from Oregon State in 2020.

Simonich succeeds Alan Sams, who recently announced his plans to return to Texas A&M University.

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