BATON ROUGE – LSU College of Science Dean Cynthia Peterson has been named LSU President William F. Tate IV’s special advisor on science. Peterson has served as dean of the College of Science since August 2014 and will remain in that role while also serving in this new position.
“The special advisor on science ensures that the university’s priorities in science and research will always remain at the forefront, crossing campus boundaries to enhance collaboration, innovation and impact,” Tate said. “Dean Peterson will serve as a critical member of my senior cabinet and help to build new relationships across the flagship campus and all eight LSU institutions.”
This new position underscores Tate’s focus on scholarship and research and sets LSU on a new, strategic direction. Peterson joins Matt Lee, who was named interim executive vice president and provost on July 8, as the newest additions to Tate’s leadership team.
“Now more than ever, we see the value of research and the importance of building a next-level scientific community,” Peterson said. “It is an honor to serve my university in this new role as we work collectively to elevate scientific research and capacity at LSU.”
Peterson is an LSU alumna, having earned a bachelor’s of science degree from LSU and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. Her area of expertise is the biophysical and protein chemistry of important circulatory and tissue-localized human proteins that regulate the formation and breakdown of blood clots. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Peterson returned to LSU in 2014 as the first woman to lead LSU’s College of Science. Prior to this, she was a professor at the University of Tennessee, where she served as head of the Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology and also as Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences.
During her tenure at LSU, she has led efforts to improve student recruitment in math and science programs. The College of Science has experienced significant growth in enrollment and continues to see increasing undergraduate applications each year.
Peterson serves as the co-principal investigator, or PI, of the National Science Foundation’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or S-STEM project, designed to support economically disadvantaged, academically talented students as they enter into undergraduate courses in the College of Science. She is also the co-PI for the LSU ADVANCE Catalyst project, an NSF funded program to investigate gender inequities in academic leadership and research and help develop a meaningful equity strategic plan to address those inequities.
“I am passionate about student success and creating a welcoming research environment that supports collaboration across disciplines and welcomes diverse perspectives to the table. This is key to advancing innovation and creating a scientific workforce that is ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow and answer questions that are important to us all,” Peterson said.
Peterson works to advance the university’s research infrastructure as co-PI on two major instrumentation grants in the last year totaling $12 million—one from the Department of Defense for a new state-of-the-art transmission electron microscope, a crucial tool in analyzing materials for materials science, biomedical research, micro- and nano-electronics research, and a $2 million grant from the NSF to acquire a high-field 700 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonancespectrometer that serves 23 participating research groups from 12 regional institutions.
Peterson is committed to broadly communicating the impact and strengths of LSU’s research community. Under her leadership, the College of Science has developed a series of community engagement activities that connect the college with the local community to inspire the next generation of scientists and to promote the value and impact of research institutions.
In 2019, Peterson was honored with an Esprit de Femme award in recognition of her efforts towards the advancement of women. She was also recognized as one of the Baton Rouge Business Report’s Most Influential Women in Business in 2018.