Crislyn D’Souza-Schorey, the Morris Pollard Professor and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, is the 2020 recipient of the Faculty Award from the University of Notre Dame. This award singles out the faculty member who, in the opinion of his/her colleagues, has contributed outstanding service to the University such as through leadership activities, mentoring faculty colleagues, or exemplary dedication to students. Professor D’Souza-Schorey’s award citation can be read in its entirety here.
D’Souza-Schorey joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1998 as the Walther Assistant Professor. Prior to joining the faculty, she earned her Ph.D. at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, following which she was the Lucille P. Markey postdoctoral fellow and then Research Assistant Professor in the department of Cell Biology at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis. She rose through the academic ranks and was appointed Department Chair of Biological Sciences in 2014.
An internationally recognized and accomplished scientist, her laboratory has led fundamental studies on how tumor cells invade the surrounding microenvironment. Her research contributions have been vast, published in leading scientific journals, highly cited and well supported by federal, state as well as foundation sources. D’Souza-Schorey has received many accolades throughout her career, including career development awards from the Leukemia Research Foundation, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America, the American Cancer Society, and the Walther Cancer Institute. She is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Her laboratory reflects true long-term, interdisciplinary collaborations toward the goal of improving health outcomes through foundational research.
A staunch advocate of pedagogical advances, D’Souza-Schorey has substantially influenced teaching at Notre Dame. She began contributing to the educational mission by teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in cell and cancer biology. As Chair, she invigorated the department’s undergraduate program in numerous ways such as facilitating new student professional development programs and undergraduate and graduate curricular advancements. Most significantly she led the Department in redesigning a new and improved structure to the Introductory Biology courses and labs which serve over 500 students each year, to be aligned with the AAAS’s “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action”. Important aspects of the redesign were the incorporation of inclusive excellence to expand the diversity of future scientists in the life sciences and original research experiences for all students.
D’Souza-Schorey is the first woman to serve as the Department Chair of Biological Sciences, a unit with over 80 faculty, approximately 350 undergraduate student majors, and large cohorts of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and research staff. As Chair, she has presided over increases in both size and quality of faculty research and training programs and substantial increases in extramural research grant awards that included the single largest grant award (of ~33 million USD) to Notre Dame, as well as realignments to enhance operational efficiencies. Her record of service on various University and College committees is equally impressive.
Her colleagues were thrilled to see her honored with the Faculty Award. Professor Kasturi Haldar, the Parsons-Quinn Director of the Boler-Parseghian Center for Rare & Neglected Disease and chair of the department’s Awards & Honors Committee said, “Crislyn’s vision and passion was to build a premier department in Biological Sciences, and as a force for good at Notre Dame and the world. She equally inspired faculty, students and staff in Biological Sciences and the University, to recognize that long-term success does not come from a flash in the pan, but through the hard work of investing in the right collective of science as well as human assets.”
Professor Nora Besansky, Associate Department Chair and newly elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, stated, “For two decades on the faculty of Biological Sciences, Crislyn's laboratory has been a driver of world-class research. As departmental leader, she has been a strong proponent of inclusive excellence at all levels of the academy, from undergraduate and graduate students to staff and faculty.” Professor Jason Rohr, Galla Professor and incoming Department Chair, said “Crislyn is a natural and gifted leader that has the set the Department of Biological Sciences on a course of success for years to come!”