Date: February 24, 2022
TO: The Arts & Science Community
FROM: President Andrew Hamilton, Provost Katherine Fleming, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science Antonio Merlo

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Arts & Science’s own Wendy Suzuki as Seryl Kushner Dean of the College of Arts & Science (CAS), effective September 1, 2022.

Wendy joined the faculty of Arts & Science in 1998. A Professor of Neural Science and Psychology in the Center for Neural Science (CNS), she is an internationally renowned expert in mental health and brain plasticity: the ability of the brain to modify its connections in response to the environment. Her current research focuses on the effects of physical activity on the human brain, and its potential to improve learning, memory and higher cognitive abilities. In books including her most recent bestseller Good Anxiety: Harnessing the Power of the Most Misunderstood Emotion, and Healthy Brain, Happy Life, she brings practical, science-informed strategies for emotional health to general audiences.

Wendy calls her position as Director of Undergraduate Studies at CNS the most fulfilling of her career thus far. In this role she has prioritized a sense of belonging among students across the neuroscience major, while enhancing undergraduate research experiences through mentorship opportunities and increased volunteer lab positions. She is equally passionate about teaching, and as an Arts & Science professor won NYU’s Golden Dozen teaching award the year she developed her signature undergraduate course, “Can Exercise Change Your Brain?”

Wendy evinces an exceptional excitement at interacting with students throughout their time at CAS. Her vision for the deanship reflects her deep interest in the undergraduate experience and decades of neural science research. It also draws upon her lived experiences as a third-generation Asian-American woman in a male-dominated discipline, who credits her own mentors with showing her the power of diversity, equity and inclusion in academia.

To advance the core mission of teaching and learning at CAS, she seeks to support and enhance the day-to-day academic experience of all students in the College. Students’ emotional health is a major priority. Wendy sees the deanship as a powerful platform for disseminating information about the normal anxiety that is a part of the college experience, and will look to implement programs and interventions tailored to the needs of CAS students. A third focus will be optimizing the sense of belonging and connection among the CAS community, including building on the University’s ongoing work in diversity, equity and inclusion. Nor is her dedication and leadership confined to Arts & Science – she has also taken on a demanding role as Self-study Co-chair for NYU’s important reaccreditation process.

Wendy is the recipient of a Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences; a Fellow Award for Research Excellence from the National Institutes of Health; and the Donald B. Lindsley Prize in Behavioral Neuroscience from the Society for Neuroscience. In addition to authoring books for general audiences, she is extensively published in academic works and peer-reviewed journals. A frequent speaker and guest lecturer in academic settings, Wendy also devotes time and energy to disseminating science to the public – in TED and TEDX Talks, storytelling for The Moth, and other venues. Her TED talk on the brain-changing benefits of exercise has been viewed over 55 million times.

After graduating with a BA in physiology and anatomy from University of California, Berkeley, Wendy earned her PhD in neuroscience at University of California, San Diego. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Mental Health’s Laboratory of Neuropsychology.

We want to take this opportunity to thank Matthew Santirocco for leading CAS as Interim Dean. Matthew continues to bring his prodigious experience and boundless enthusiasm for our mission to the role, and his steady hand at the helm has been especially appreciated throughout the challenges of the last year. Our entire community has been most fortunate in his service.

Please join us in welcoming Wendy Suzuki to her new role. We are confident that the College of Arts & Science will be in excellent hands under her leadership.