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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI names distinguished biochemist
dean of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences

KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 30, 2001 -- The University of Rhode Island has appointed Jeffrey R. Seemann, chairman of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Nevada, Reno, to the post of dean of the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences (CELS). His appointment takes effect July 1.

Seemann succeeds William R. Wright, who served as interim dean following the resignation of Margaret Leinen in January 2000. Leinen left URI to become assistant director for geosciences at the National Science Foundation.

As dean, Seemann will have executive responsibility for the college and provide leadership for its academic, research and outreach programs. He will also manage efforts to obtain external funding for a number of important CELS initiatives. In addition, Seemann will serve as director of the University’s Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension. He will also hold an appointment as professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.

"Dr. Seemann is a dynamic and energetic scientist whose strong leadership abilities will assist us in meeting the goals of this reinvigorated College," said M. Beverly Swan, URI provost and vice president for academic affairs. "I look forward to working with him."

Seemann has led the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Nevada to national prominence during his 10 years as chairman. He also holds the position of adjunct senior research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. Previously, he served as chairman of the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Nevada and state director of the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

"I am tremendously excited to be given the privilege to lead the College of the Environment and Life Sciences at URI," Seemann said. "I can only compliment the college faculty and URI administration for their vision and determination in reorganizing this college. They have effectively positioned CELS, which is at the heart of URI's land-grant mission, to meet the scientific and educational challenges of the 21st century.

"CELS has the potential of becoming an internationally-known center for the study of scientific and social issues relating to the environment and biotechnology. My role will be to put in place the resources that are required to make this potential a reality."

Seemann is an internationally known plant biologist who has made significant contributions to understanding the process of photosynthesis. His latest research has used genomics to study the impact of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide on the biochemistry and molecular biology of plants. He was also instrumental in establishing the multi-million dollar Nevada Desert Free Air CO2 Enrichment Facility in the Mojave Desert to examine the response of an undisturbed desert ecosystem to global change.

His research has resulted in more than 80 publications to date – including one in the prestigious journal Nature in 2000 and two in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) in 2001 -- and has attracted nearly $12 million in grants during his career.
Seemann received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Oberlin College and a doctorate in biological sciences from Stanford University. He held postdoctoral fellowships at Australian National University and the Carnegie Institution of Washington at Stanford.

URI’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences includes the departments of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics; Community Planning and Landscape Architecture; Environmental and Natural Resource Economics; Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science; Food Science and Nutrition; Geosciences; Marine Affairs; Natural Resources Science; and Plant Sciences. It currently enrolls approximately 1,000 undergraduate students and 200 graduate students, and employs 200 faculty, researchers and support staff.

A digital photo of Dr. Seemann is available via email. Contact Todd McLeish, 874-7892 or

For Information: Todd McLeish 874-7892


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