MCS appoints new dean

Fred Gilman, the Buhl professor of theoretical physics and former head of the physics department, was appointed dean of the Mellon College of Science (MCS) last week. Having served as acting dean of the college since September of last year, Gilman succeeds Rick McCullough, the vice president of research at Carnegie Mellon.

“I am very excited, looking ahead at the many opportunities for the Mellon College of Science,” Gilman said.

Divided between the main campus and its off-campus host, the Mellon Institute, MCS is composed of four departments: biological sciences, chemistry, mathematical sciences, and physics. While the main campus houses the mathematical sciences and physics departments, the biological sciences and chemistry departments are based in the Mellon Institute on Fifth Avenue. As dean, Gilman will be responsible for these four departments and approximately 200 faculty members within them.

Gilman said that he intends to increase connections between different parts of the college. His vision is focused on promoting the multidisciplinary tradition of Carnegie Mellon, which, according to Gilman, is “one of the greatest characteristics” of the university.

A specialist in high-energy physics and the former chair of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel, Gilman earned his undergraduate degree in physics from Michigan State University in 1962. Upon completing his Ph.D. at Princeton University under the supervision of Marvin Goldberger, a Carnegie Institute of Technology alumnus, Gilman completed his post-doctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology.

After spending 23 years at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center at Stanford University, Gilman joined Carnegie Mellon as a professor in 1995. Gilman’s accomplishments include applying high-energy physics to the study of biology and astronomy. High-energy physics refers to the study of particles’ physical properties and understanding the fundamental building blocks of nature in terms of electrical forces.

According to a Carnegie Mellon press release, the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel counsels the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation on nationwide high-energy physics activities and research.

“The key lies in emphasizing areas of comparative advantage — what we can do better than everybody else,” Gilman said. Gilman said that he believes in looking for and uniting the strengths of each of the different scientific fields.

“Veering into directions that are exciting scientifically, while exploring the probability of doing something that pulls together different areas of study, is where Carnegie Mellon can make a big impact,” he said.

Gilman acknowledges that he owes much of the success of MCS to its accomplished faculty members and graduate students. “The multidisciplinary research at Carnegie Mellon works bottom-up; instead of the top [people] instructing faculty and graduate students on what to do, it’s the faculty and students who are making things happen,” Gilman said.

MCS facilitates several interdisciplinary research centers, such as the Art Conservation Research Center, the Pittsburgh NMR Center for Biomedical Research, the Molecular Biosensor and Imaging Center, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

“Professor Gilman has led the physics department through a period of outstanding growth. During his time as department head, he has launched very successful initiatives in two very diverse areas of physics; biophysics and astrophysics,” said physics professor Stephen Garoff.

“The fact that he has led both efforts speaks to the breadth of his view of science and his skill in bringing people together to work toward common goals,” he added.