Cynthia Peterson Named Dean of the LSU College of Science

01/21/2014 08:55 AM

BATON ROUGE – LSU has named Cynthia Peterson as the new dean of the College of Science. Peterson is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology and current associate dean of academic personnel in the College of Arts and Sciences, University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Peterson will begin at LSU on Aug. 1, pending approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors.

Peterson, who will be the first female dean of the College of Science, will replace Guillermo Ferreyra, who has served as interim dean of the college since Jan. 1, 2013.

“There are fantastic people and great things happening at the LSU College of Science,” Peterson said. “I am honored to serve an important role as next dean of the college, and I look forward to interacting with this outstanding team of faculty, staff and students. My goal is to continue with the strong tradition of research and academic excellence that is the signature of the college.”

Peterson holds the Kenneth and Blaire Mossman Professorship in Biomedicine and is the former head of the Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology at UT. Peterson earned a B.S. in biochemistry at LSU, followed by a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the LSU Medical School in Shreveport. She then pursued postdoctoral training at the University of California, Berkeley, before assuming her faculty role as an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee in 1992. She was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1997 and then to full professor in 2002. Prior to serving as department head and associate dean, she served for several years as the director of the graduate program in genome science and technology, a joint program between UT and the Oak Ridge National Lab.

“We are pleased to welcome Cynthia Peterson back to LSU,” said LSU Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost Stuart Bell. “She is an exceptional individual and I look forward to working with her as we move forward into the future.  I believe the College of Science has an extremely bright future, and I am confident that Dr. Peterson will help lead that charge.”

Bell added, “We would like to thank Guillermo Ferreyra for stepping in and leading the college of the past year and to also thank Gary Byerly and the search committee for helping to find the best candidate for the position.”

In 2009, Peterson was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has been active in a variety of interdisciplinary programs and graduate training activities. She served as associate director of the National institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, a resource center funded by the National Science Foundation, or NSF, to host international teams to foster new developments in mathematical biology. She is the principal investigator, or PI, on two graduate training grants. One is an Interdisciplinary Graduate Education and Research Training grant from NSF that has supported cooperative work among students in computational biology and bioinformatics from a wide variety of departments. The other, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is the Program for Excellence and Equity in Research with a goal of increasing diversity among students earning Ph.D.’s in STEM disciplines at UT.

Peterson is also the PI on a Research Experience for Undergraduates grant from NSF on the topic of “Sensing and Signaling” in biology. The UT Commission for Women recently recognized her with the Angie Warren Perkins Award for contributions to campus intellectual life.

Peterson is a protein biochemist whose research is aimed at characterizing regulators of protease activity. Her work focuses primarily on the family of proteins called serine protease inhibitors. In particular, work is aimed at understanding the structure and function of plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1, the main inhibitor of proteases in the plasminogen activation cascade. These proteases break down blood clots and regulate inflammatory, wound healing and cell spreading activities in tissues. Approaches that encompass a wide spectrum of biophysical and cellular and molecular biological techniques are used to address important questions regarding the specificity of interaction of these proteins. These include hydrodynamics methods, neutron scattering, spectroscopy and protein engineering. The National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association have funded her research.

For more information on the LSU College of Science, visit

Ernie  Ballard 
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014