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NatSci staff promotions advance DEI, student success efforts

The Michigan State University College of Natural Science (NatSci) Dean’s Office has promoted three staff members to acknowledge their outstanding leadership and contributions, and to expand and strengthen the college’s DEI and student success efforts.

Danielle Flores Lopez assumed a 50 percent interim appointment as NatSci DEI assistant dean; Kaitlin Peterson was promoted to assistant director of pre-health and human biology advising, Academic and Student Affairs Office, and  Kanchan Pavangadkar joined the Academic and Student Affairs Office as assistant director of student success.

Headshot of Danielle Flores Lopez
Danielle Flores Lopez

Flores Lopez will continue in her role of NatSci’s director of academic advising and student success initiatives during this time. She is already a key part of DEI programming in the college and in the strategic planning process and is also regularly participating in committees at the university level. In fall 2022, NatSci will run an open search for a permanent DEI assistant or associate dean.

“It is an honor to serve as the NatSci interim assistant dean of DEI,” said Flores Lopez, who has been with NatSci since 2014. “I look forward to continuing to engage and collaborate with the NatSci community to advance both the college and university DEI strategic plans. I am also excited to continue partnerships with colleagues across campus.”

“It is wonderful that Dr. Flores Lopez has agreed to take on the role of NatSci DEI assistant dean to ensure that the full spectrum of NatSci DEI initiatives continue and expand,” said Phillip Duxbury, NatSci dean. “She has been a key member of the college strategic planning process and is already part of many of the DEI programs in the college. Dr. FloresLopez also has many experiences on committees and advisory groups for the university, and her Ph.D. is from the Department of Higher Education Administration at MSU. This education and experience make her uniquely qualified for this critical leadership role.”

Headshot of Kanchan Pavangadkar
Kanchan Pavangadkar

Pavangadkar moved into her new position as NatSci assistant director of student success from the Department of Physiology, where she served as a Neuroscience Program advisor. She has been involved in strategic planning for the college and is currently co-chairing the NatSci Specialist Annual Evaluation Committee.

“I’m very honored to serve in this role for the college,” Pavangadkar said. “As outlined in the college’s strategic plan, there will be targeted and proactive efforts for improving undergraduate student success. I look forward to advancing NatSci’s work toward increasing the retention, persistence and graduation rates of our undergraduate students.”

“We congratulate Dr. Pavangadkar on her well-deserved promotion to assistant director of student success,” said Flores Lopez, interim assistant dean of DEI and director of academic advising and student success initiatives. “We are excited to have her join us in this new position in the college and grateful for the continued opportunities to support student success. Her extensive experience in STEM advising, research, and student success initiatives brings a wealth of knowledge to our undergraduate academic and student affairs team. We look forward to assisting with the advancement of student success and DEI strategic initiatives for NatSci and the university.”

Headshot of Kaitlin Peterson
Kaitlin Peterson

Peterson, who served as a human biology and pre-health advisor, was promoted to assistant director of pre-health and human biology advising – a newly created position in the office. She has also worked as the supervisor of the pre-health peer advisors since 2019.

“I am very honored to be representing the human biology and pre-health advising team in this role and to be entrusted with the responsibilities that come with this position,” Peterson said. “I am fortunate to work with a highly skilled, innovative and compassionate team of advisors, and we are excited to develop new programming and events to better serve our human biology and pre-health students.”

“We are excited to have Kaitlin Peterson take on the new role of assistant director of pre-health and human biology advising,” said Janae Lawler, NatSci director of academic advising and strategic initiatives. “This new position will be an important piece of advancing NatSci's and the university’s strategic initiatives regarding pre-health pathways and closing opportunity gaps. Kaitlin brings with her an extensive knowledge of pre-health pathways, years of experience advising pre-health students in majors across the university and a passion for educational technology to the role. We look forward to her continued success and leadership within the college.”

All three positions became effective in April. 


Banner image: The College of Natural Science at Michigan State University is home to 27 departments and programs in the biological, physical, and mathematical sciences. The college provides world-class educational opportunities to more than 5,500 undergraduate majors and 1,200 graduate and postdoctoral students. There are 868 faculty and academic staff associated with NatSci, and more than 63,000 living alumni worldwide. Credit: Harley J. Seeley