Owen: ‘Our faculty really are tops’


W. Geoffrey Owen

W. Geoffrey Owen

05 June 2002 |

W. Geoffrey Owen, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology, “…was clearly everyone’s choice” to head up the Biological Sciences Division in the College of Letters & Science, says Chancellor Berdahl.

In his new position, Owen, 60, will oversee two departments and 105 faculty members in a division that typically graduates some 800 students a year. He’s obviously excited about the prospect.

“What Berkeley offers is a tremendous breadth of biology and a world-class faculty,” Owen says. “Our faculty really are tops; that’s why people come here.”

As dean, he plans to support research collaborations, and to build up areas that have languished as scientists converged on the hot areas of molecular biology and genetics. He anticipates spending considerable time raising funds to support research in both established and emerging areas of science.

“The next few years are going to be difficult because of state budget cuts, which come at a time when the importance of biology continues to grow,” Owen said. “If Berkeley is going to remain competitive, we are going to have to mine more extramural sources of money.”

The chancellor noted that Owen’s leadership “will be key to our continuing excellence in the biological sciences, one of Berkeley’s great strengths. He also will be an important player in moving our Health Sciences Initiative forward.”

For the time being, Owen plans to close down his own laboratory. Having discovered how retinal cells identify and emphasize what is perceptually important in an image, he now wants to concentrate on theory and other more philosophical questions.

“I think sensory systems in general may use the same principles we’ve discovered for the retina,” he says. “I’m now planning to see if the theory applies to the auditory system, which is able to pick out the sound of a bell from the din just as easily as our eyes pick out a familiar face from the crowd.”


Home | Search | Archive | About | Contact | More News

Copyright 2002, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.

Comments? E-mail