September 30, 2015


SUBJECT:    Dean of the Division of Physical Sciences

At the end of sixteen years of exemplary service as the inaugural Dean of UC San Diego's Division of Physical Sciences, Dr. Mark Thiemens has announced his decision to conclude his tenure as Dean, effective June 30, 2016 to return to teaching and research full time in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Dean Thiemens joined UC San Diego's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1980 from the Fermi Institute of Nuclear Studies at the University of Chicago, and was appointed interim dean of the Division of Natural Sciences in 1999. In the year that followed, he led the creation of two new divisions from that entity in July 2000; the Division of Physical Sciences, to which he was appointed Founding Dean and the Division of Biological Sciences. During his tenure of leadership, Dean Thiemens has overseen the hiring of 91 new ladder-rank faculty (plus 6 as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry), a 60 percent increase in graduate students, and a 210 percent increase in contract and grant expenditures. He has also been instrumental in growing strong alumni relations, a robust development program, and strengthening the Division's government relations presence at the local, regional, and national levels.

As Dean, he has forged new educational and research initiatives that capitalize on the interdisciplinary spirit of UC San Diego, with mathematicians and physical scientists coming together with colleagues from across the campus to create innovative programs such as Bioinformatics, Quantitative Biology, Computational Science, Mathematics and Engineering and Cal Teach. Under his leadership, the Division has also played a pivotal role in addressing California's shortage of qualified STEM educators through programs such as Cal Teach. He was also influential in recognizing the high caliber of undergraduate research in the physical and mathematical sciences through the creation of the Dean's Awards for Undergraduate Excellence.

As the founder and director of the cross divisional undergraduate Environmental Systems Program, Dean Thiemens has applied his research on stable isotopes to a wide variety of environmental problems from global warming to atmospheric ozone chemistry to questions about the prospect of life on Mars. His laboratory has developed new techniques of understanding the composition of the early atmosphere of the Earth and the origin of life and the atmosphere of Mars. In 2006, the minor planet center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the clearinghouse for naming asteroids, designated a minor planet orbiting the inner part of the main asteroid belt 7004MarkThiemens in honor of his work with meteorites and extra-terrestrial materials and studies of the origin of the solar system. His other works have focused on understanding climate change from chemical clues embedded in the ice he collected at the South Pole, Greenland summit and in remote Tibetan glaciers and from rocket-borne collection systems. He has recently worked on the fundamental quantum physics of isotope effects and new techniques of nano imaging.

Dr. Thiemens is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a two-time winner of the Alexander Von Humboldt award and was awarded the prestigious E.O. Lawrence Award from the U.S. Department of Energy in 1998 on behalf of the President of the United States. He is also the recipient of the V.M. Goldschmidt Award, the highest award in geochemistry, previously won by founding faculty members Harold Urey and Hans Suess and serves in an editorial capacity on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). He holds the Chancellor's Associates Endowed Chair in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Please join us in thanking Dean Thiemens for his many significant contributions to the Division of Physical Sciences and the campus, and in wishing him every success when he returns full time to teaching and research. An international search for his successor will be launched in the Winter Quarter.

Pradeep K. Khosla

Suresh Subramani
Executive Vice Chancellor