FAU Names New Dean of Charles E. Schmidt College of Science

Valery Forbes, Ph.D.

Valery Forbes, Ph.D., is Florida Atlantic University's new dean of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

By lisa metcalf | 8/4/2022

Florida Atlantic University has announced Valery Forbes, Ph.D., as its new dean of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, effective Aug. 10. Forbes will spearhead FAU’s second largest college, which has a student body of more than 8,500, and education and research programs in biological sciences, chemistry and biochemistry, environmental science, exercise science and health promotion, geosciences, marine science and oceanography, mathematics, neuroscience, physics, psychology, and urban and regional planning.

Forbes brings more than 25 years of experience as a robust, enterprising researcher and academic leader with international experience that pairs well with FAU’s already thriving scientific community.

As the former dean of the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Forbes oversaw a $100 million budget, secured partnerships with government and industry, grew enrollments while maintaining high admissions standards, and launched a Dean’s Undergraduate Research Program. She also successfully advocated for UMN to join the University of California Partnership for Faculty Diversity, a pipeline program to attract high quality and diverse postdocs and facilitate their transition to become tenure-track faculty.  

“The university is incredibly proud to welcome such an accomplished leader like Valery,” said Michele Hawkins, Ph.D., interim FAU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We look forward to seeing how she will build on the existing strengths of the college.”

In her role as dean at UMN, Forbes led major capital projects, including the development of a $110 million biomanufacturing innovation center at UMN to grow the college’s footprint in biotechnology and provide a new revenue stream for the college. As part of UMN’s most recent philanthropic campaign, she exceeded her college’s fundraising goal one year ahead of schedule with major success in raising funds for student scholarships.

“As one of the largest colleges at FAU, it is essential that we not only have strong researchers, but that we have research leaders who want to create synergistic partnerships across FAU and beyond,” Forbes said. “As the dean, I plan to help faculty attract larger, multi-partner grants and projects, reduce administrative barriers for faculty to lead major collaborative research efforts, institute seed funding and provide increased opportunities for faculty to step-up and allow them to lead high impact research initiatives in our areas of strength.”

In addition to the eight academic departments in the Schmidt College of Science, there is a group of strong interdisciplinary and sub-disciplinary research centers engaged in cutting-edge research. These include The Center for Biological and Materials Physics, The Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences, the Center for Cryptology and Information Security, the Center for Geo-Information Sciences, the Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions, the Florida Center for Environmental Studies, and the Jupiter Life Science Initiative. The College offers programs at FAU’s campuses in Boca Raton, Davie and Jupiter.

Previously, Forbes served at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, as the director of the School of Biological Sciences. In addition, she was the founding department head and professor in the Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change at Roskilde University, Denmark.

“My research has been extremely international, and I envision establishing greater international partnerships, and reinforcing current relationships with renowned research partners, such as the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience,” Forbes said. “We have the only Max Planck Institute in North America in our backyard, that is certainly a feather in our cap and should be nurtured.”

The Schmidt College of Science’s faculty members have active collaborations that extend not only across FAU’s colleges and campuses and with Max Planck, but also through the FAU pillars, including I-BRAIN, I-SENSE, HBOI, and I-HEALTH, and other local research institutions such as UF Scripps Biomedical Research. The college also has affiliations with national laboratories such as Los Alamos and Oak Ridge and international collaborations that span the globe.

Forbes received a Ph.D. in coastal oceanography and a master’s degree in marine environmental science from the State University System of New York at Stony Brook, and a bachelor’s degree in geology from the State University System of New York at Binghamton.