Dennis R. Dean, a University Distinguished Professor and director of the Fralin Life Science Institute at Virginia Tech, was recently reappointed the J.B. Stroobants Professor of Biotechnology by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

Established in 1986 by a gift from Alphonese and Maria Stroobants of Bedford County, Va., in memory of Alphonese Stroobant's father, the J.B. Stroobants Professorship supports a researcher in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who is advancing knowledge and discoveries in biotechnology.

Dean’s research centers on two related projects – the chemical mechanism of biological nitrogen fixation and how iron and sulfur are combined and mobilized to support various essential life processes such as nitrogen fixation, photosynthesis, and respiration. 

The importance of nitrogen fixation is that the availability of nitrogen-containing fertilizers limits crop productivity worldwide. Also, metabolic defects in the ability to biologically combine iron and sulfur can have profound affects on agricultural production and they are also linked to a variety of debilitating and often fatal human genetic disorders.

Dean was recently elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology for his contributions to microbiology and bioinorganic chemistry.

Recognized worldwide, he has published more than 160 articles, and has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and the Journal of Bacteriology. He also recently served on the publications board for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Dean has received continuous extramural research funding to support his research program since 1975, including awards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, the Office of Naval Research, and the Department of Energy.

He has delivered invited talks at numerous international scientific meetings and continues to serve on multiple grant review panels for the National Science Foundation and the Department of Agriculture.

Dean helped provide oversight for the design and construction of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke and chaired the search for its current executive director, Michael Friedlander. He also served as the interim director of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. Most recently he served as a member of the search committee for 16th president of Virginia Tech.

Dean received his bachelor’s degree from Wabash College and a Ph.D. from Purdue University. He was a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Enzyme Research at the University of Wisconsin and was a research fellow at the Charles F. Kettering Laboratory prior to joining the Virginia Tech faculty.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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