Paul E. Turner has been named the new director of the Yale Quantitative Biology Institute (QBio) and the director of the Program in Physics, Engineering, and Biology (PEB).
Turner, the Rachel Carson Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and a faculty member in microbiology at the School of Medicine, will serve in these roles for a three-year period. A graduate of the University of Rochester and with a Ph.D. from Michigan State University, Turner’s research interests include evolutionary biology and medicine, evolutionary genomics, ecology and evolution of infectious diseases, virology, and phage therapy, among others. He is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and American Academy of Microbiology. Turner serves on the Biological Sciences Advisory Committee of the National Science Foundation and helps lead the Yale National Initiative that seeks to improve public school education. He serves as associate editor for various scientific journals, and is president-elect of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine and Public Health. In 2020, Turner was identified as one of Cell Press’s 1000 inspiring Black scientists in America.
Reporting to Vice Provost for Research Michael Crair, Turner’s joint directorship will help unify the two programs at the recommendation of a 2018 task force commissioned by former Vice Provost Peter Schiffer. QBio comprises twelve laboratories charged with bringing theory and computation into a broad range of basic biological research areas. PEB focuses on conducting research at the interface of disciplines, providing seed funding for innovative research projects and support for graduate fellows and visiting faculty, and helping facilitate collaboration among faculty from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Yale School of Medicine, and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Turner succeeds inaugural QBio co-directors Thierry Emonet and Joe Howard, who were appointed at the center’s formation by former Yale Provost Ben Polak in July 2017, and Tom Pollard, who recently retired from Yale’s faculty and his directorship of PEB.
In his new roles, some of Turner’s responsibilities will include managing the use of designated QBio space in the Yale Science Building, stewarding the resources of the PEB program, and working with university colleagues to support Yale’s research at the interface of biology and the fields of physics, engineering, math, and data science. This will include curriculum development and faculty recruitment and retention in support of Yale’s university science strategy.