Tracy L. Johnson Announced as Dean of the Division of Life Sciences

May 26, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Tracy L. Johnson as dean of the Division of Life Sciences, effective September 1, 2020.

A member of the UCLA faculty since 2013, Dr. Johnson is professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology; holds the Keith and Cecilia Terasaki Presidential Endowed Chair; and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Professor. She has served as associate dean for inclusive excellence in the Division of Life Sciences since January 2015. Prior to her appointment at UCLA, she served on the UC San Diego biological sciences faculty from 2003 to 2013 and as a Jane Coffin Childs postdoctoral research fellow at the California Institute of Technology. Her current research lab focuses on understanding mechanisms of gene regulation, particularly RNA splicing, chromatin modification and the intersection between these reactions.

Recognized for her scientific leadership and contributions to educational innovation, and as a champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Professor Johnson serves as a member of the UCLA Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee; chair and director of the biomedical research minor; co-director and steering committee member for the Bruins in Genomics summer program; and co-director/co-PI of the NIH-funded UPLIFT/IRACDA program, which supports postdoctoral researchers preparing for academic careers. She also started the UCLA-HHMI Pathways to Success Program, which is funded through the HHMI to support the success of students from diverse backgrounds in STEM fields, and is the principal investigator for a second grant funded through the HHMI to promote greater access and success for life science students who transfer from community colleges.

Professor Johnson has served on a number of campus committees, including the faculty advisory committees for the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, the Moreno Report Implementation Committee, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Executive Committee, and Diversity in Research Committee. Beyond UCLA, she has served as chair of an NIH Molecular Genetics Study Section, the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Counselors, the Executive Committee for the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, and the Society of Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professors Executive Board. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the NSF CAREER Award; the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers; the Academic Senate Award for Career Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and the Life Sciences Award for Inclusive Excellence through teaching, mentorship, service, and research. She earned her B.A. in biochemistry and cell biology at UC San Diego and her Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology at UC Berkeley.

I want to thank the search/advisory committee members for assembling an outstanding pool of candidates and for their roles in recruiting Tracy. Jonathan R. Hiatt, professor of surgery and vice dean for faculty in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, was the committee chair. Other members were:

  • Albert J. Courey – professor of chemistry and biochemistry
  • Rachelle H. Crosbie – professor and chair of integrative biology and physiology; professor of neurology
  • Carlos V. Grijalva – professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience; associate dean for special projects, Graduate Division
  • Leanne Jones – professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology
  • Nathan J. B. Kraft – associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology
  • Hannah Landecker – professor of sociology; director, Institute for Society and Genetics
  • Beth A. Lazazzera – associate professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics; chair, Life Sciences Core
  • David O. Sears – distinguished research professor of psychology and political science
  • Xinshu Grace Xiao – professor of integrative biology and physiology; director, bioinformatics interdepartmental program

I also want to recognize and thank Dean Victoria Sork for her distinguished leadership of the division since 2009, and for her willingness to stay on as dean this summer until Tracy’s term commences.

Chancellor Block and I are confident that the Division of Life Sciences will continue to thrive under Tracy’s capable leadership. Please join me in congratulating her and welcoming her to this new role.


Emily A. Carter
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost