Reeta Rao, professor of biology and biotechnology, was recently appointed Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.
In this new role, Rao will focus on developing graduate curriculum and professional programs.
“As associate dean, my long-term goal is to listen, learn, and support every graduate program at WPI so it can become as distinctive as it can be and provide our grad students with the best learning environment,” Rao says.
“An immediate task I am working on, in close collaboration with the Committee on Graduate Studies and Research (CGSR) and the Outcomes Assessment Committee (OAC), is to develop graduate outcomes. These outcomes are not only required for accreditation but will also serve as an internal assessment of student success.”
Rao says she has seen tremendous growth in graduate studies at WPI, and is excited to be part of the university team. “Specifically, I am looking forward to developing distinctive graduate programs and continuing to make our existing programs more robust.
“I will listen to and learn from all graduate coordinators about things that work well at the departmental level and consider institutionalizing these successful practices.”
Deeply engaged in the global health and pre-health programs at WPI, Rao has been training students and research associates in her laboratory to use a variety of biochemical, molecular-genetic, and genomic tools that help them study host-microbe interactions, leading to the identification of novel therapeutics.
“My career path has been straight and narrow—BS, MS (dual), PhD, postdoc, primary investigator,” she says. “I love teaching and mentoring; it’s the best part of my job. Mentoring is really about helping students plan the rest of their professional lives—helping them figure out who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. I've been lucky to have been surrounded by positive role models and mentors throughout my own professional career. Now I have the opportunity to pay it forward.”