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NatSci's Claire Vieille named new director of Genetics and Genome Sciences Program

Headshot of Claire Vielle
NatSci Associate Professor Claire Vieille is the new director of the Genetics and Genome Sciences Program, effective Feb. 1. Courtesy photo

Associate Professor Claire Vieille was selected as the new director of the Genetics and Genome Sciences (GGS) Program in the Michigan State University College of Natural Science (NatSci), effective February 1.  Vieille replaces Cathy Ernst, who was appointed chair of the Department of Animal Science in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  

The GGS Program is an interdepartmental, degree-granting program that provides graduate education in genetics. Although led by NatSci, GGS currently has about 100 faculty members representing 21 departments across five colleges. The program trains students for careers in research, teaching and other science-related fields that rely on a deep understanding of the scientific method and the nature and significance of genetics and genomics.

“GGS is a student-driven program that focuses on a strong education in genetics and genome sciences, a valuable thesis research experience, strong mentoring and career development, and student involvement and outreach,” said Susanne Hoffman-Benning, associate director of the GGS Program, who headed the search for the new GGS director.

“Claire Vieille is the ideal candidate to maintain and further enhance the spirit and quality of the program. We are delighted that she will be the new GGS program director,” continued Hoffman-Benning, an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB). “We are also very grateful for Cathy Ernst, previous director of GGS, whose leadership has successfully moved the program into the era of genome sciences.”

Vieille found GGS’s focus on student success a particularly attractive feature of the GGS program, noting that all program-related decisions center on the training and well-being of students. She further values how the program engages students and lets them run many of the program’s activities.

“What excites me most about the GGS program is the engagement of the students and how they drive what they want to see happening in the program,” said Vieille, associate professor with joint appointments in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (MMG) and BMB. “I would like to continue this culture of student active leadership and engagement, as it is quite unique, and establish a solid funding mechanism to ensure its continuation for many years to come.”

As director, Vieille also plans to work on increasing program enrollment, installing a solid, recurring, mentoring program for graduate students and the faculty mentoring them, ensuring continuity in graduate course offerings, increasing diversity in the program and obtaining a federally funded graduate training grant to ensure the recruitment and training of excellent scientists.

“As director, I will be leading the long-range planning and administrative management of the program,” Vieille said. “One of my objectives is to use GGS-related research areas that draw large participation on campus as platforms to apply for graduate training grants. These grants are needed not only to support current GGS students but also to attract exceptionally talented students to the program.” 


Banner image: The College of Natural Science (NatSci) at Michigan State University is home to 27 departments and programs in the biological, physical, and mathematical sciences. The college averages $57M in research expenditures annually, while providing world-class educational opportunities to more than 5,500 undergraduate majors and 1,200 graduate and postdoc students. There are 800+ faculty and academic staff associated with NatSci, and more than 63,000 living alumni worldwide. Credit: Harley J. Seeley