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Michael P. Nusbaum, PhD, appointed Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Director of BGS

April 19, 2013

Dr. NusbaumWe are pleased to announce the appointment of Michael P. Nusbaum, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience, as Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Director of Biomedical Graduate Studies, effective immediately.

Dr. Nusbaum is an exceptional choice for this critically important leadership role. After receiving a BA in history from SUNY Buffalo, Dr. Nusbaum received a BA magna cum laude in biology from University of Colorado, Boulder, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He received his PhD from the University of California, San Diego and did a postdoctoral fellowship at Brandeis University with Dr. Eve Marder. He first joined the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor and then in 1994, he joined the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. He was promoted to full professor in 2003.


Dr. Nusbaum has played an extraordinarily active and creative role in graduate education throughout his 19 years at Penn. From 1997 to 2009, Dr. Nusbaum chaired the Neuroscience Graduate Group (NGG), which grew in size from approximately 70 students and 50 faculty to 125 students and 120 faculty under his leadership. Importantly, during that period, the quality of the matriculated NGG students also increased dramatically. In parallel with this effort, Dr. Nusbaum was either director or co-director of multiple NGG core courses, directly mentored 8 theses/doctoral candidates and participated on the thesis committee of another 26 such candidates. For the past 16 years, Dr. Nusbaum has also been director of the Systems & Integrative Biology training grant, during which time he has successfully navigated four competitive renewals. Dr. Nusbaum’s talents in graduate education have been formally recognized by two prestigious awards: the SOM Deans’ Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Training (2004) and the Provost’s Award for Distinguished PhD Teaching and Mentoring (2005).

Dr. Nusbaum’s research efforts are directed to understand how the nervous system selects and generates distinct motor patterns from multifunctional neural networks. His model system includes two well-defined motor pattern generating networks, composed of overlapping sets of neurons, located in the stomatogastric ganglion in the crab Cancer borealis . Results from work with the stomatogastric nervous system has led to general principles of neural circuit dynamics that have been extended to many other systems, ranging from other invertebrates to mammalian systems. Dr. Nusbaum holds a Javits Investigator Award from NINDS and has published over 70 articles and reviews. He has served on the Sensori-Motor Integration Study Section of NIH; taught for 15 years in the summer research course on Neural Systems & Behavior at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole; was a reviewing editor for the Journal of Neuroscience; and currently serves as a reviewer for Journal of Neurophysiology, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Experimental Biology and Nature.

Dr. Nusbaum succeeds Susan Ross, PhD, who served as Associate Dean and BGS Director from 2002 to 2012, and is currently the interim chair of the Department of Microbiology, as well as Richard Assoian, PhD, who served on an interim basis in the past year. Both Susan and Rick deserve our most heartfelt thanks for their dedicated service to BGS. Biomedical Graduate Studies is a national model for interdisciplinary education in the biomedical sciences. Its seven graduate groups and 781 students span 665 faculty from the schools of Arts and Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, Dental Medicine, Engineering and Applied Science, Nursing, and Wharton Business, as well as in the Perelman School of Medicine. BGS is also known for its commitment to developing and supporting a diverse student body through its various outreach programs at the undergraduate and postbaccalaureate levels, extensive recruitment efforts, and peer-mentoring programs for underrepresented trainees. We are confident that Mikey will continue to build on BGS’ many strengths and provide exemplary leadership to its students and faculty in the years to come.

Please join us in congratulating Mikey, and welcoming him to his new role.