School of Arts & Sciences

Picture of Reeta Rao

The Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce that Dr. Reeta Rao has been appointed Department Head for Biology and Biotechnology, effective October 1, 2023. Dr. Rao has served as interim Department Head for the past two years, during which time she provided strong leadership and stewardship of the department.
Dr. Rao joined WPI in 2004 as an Assistant Professor of Biology & Biotechnology. Dr. Rao is a leader in the field of molecular genetics and genomics and has affiliate appointments at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University as well as the Institute of Drug Resistance at the UMass Chan Medical School. Her primary research activities are focused on emerging infectious diseases, specifically understanding and managing fungal diseases. Students and research associates in her laboratory are trained to use a variety of high biochemical, molecular-genetic, and genomic tools to study host-microbe interactions to explore fungal virulence strategies and identify novel therapeutics in a high throughput fashion. Dr. Rao is also deeply engaged in the Global Health and Pre-Health programs at WPI. Committed to the career and professional development of scientists at all levels of training, she has spearheaded several workforce development opportunities aimed at recruiting, retaining and improving the critical skills, knowledge, and resources required for academia as well as industry. Dr. Rao has championed a skills-based MS degree program designed to provide advanced coursework and laboratory techniques applicable to the biotechnology industry. This program was recently recognized among the top two online degree programs in the country. Dr. Rao is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a recipient of the Waksman Outstanding Teacher Award from the Society of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology.

The Dean's office would like to thank the members of the Search Committee who worked on this search while balancing many other responsibilities: Sarah Olson, Professor and Department Head of Mathematical Sciences (Chair); Tanja Dominko, Professor of Biology and Biotechnology; Amity Manning, Associate Professor of Biology and Biotechnology; Anita Mattson, Professor and Department Head of Chemistry & Biochemistry, and Emmanuel Agu, Professor of Computer Science. 
Please join us in congratulating Dr. Rao on her appointment.