James Gentile

HOLLAND – An internationally respected leader in science education is returning to Hope College to lead the division of natural and applied sciences.

Dr. James Gentile, who was the division’s dean from 1988 until becoming president of Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) in 2005, will begin a two-year appointment as dean and professor of biology in July, following his retirement from RCSA.  He will succeed Dr. Moses Lee, dean for the last eight years, who is leaving the college to become program director for the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.  Research Corporation for Science Advancement is the nation’s oldest foundation devoted wholly to science and celebrated its centennial—100 years of advancing science—in 2012.

“I’m very pleased to have Jim conclude his career here at Hope College, picking up where he left off when he went to lead Research Corporation for Science Advancement,” said Dr. Richard Ray, provost at Hope.  “Even before he left for RCSA, Jim was a significant scientific leader, and the time that he has spent at RCSA has not only solidified but actually grown his reputation as someone who has influenced and shaped the direction of science in our country.  Jim has a very well-grounded and well-articulated sense of Hope College’s educational mission, and understands the transformative impact that student-faculty collaborative research can have on developing the kind of scientific thinking needed for the next generation.”

Ray noted that thanks to Lee’s leadership, Gentile returns to a division that is even stronger than when he left it.

“Jim’s job will be made easier because of the terrific work that Moses Lee has done over the last eight years in taking the division of the natural and applied sciences to new levels of excellence,” Ray said.

Gentile previously served at Hope from 1976 to 2005.  He joined the Hope biology faculty in 1976, was promoted to associate professor in 1982 and was appointed the Kenneth G. Herrick Professor of Biology in 1984.  Among other service to Hope, he chaired the department of biology from 1986 until being appointed dean in 1988, and presented the address during the college’s Opening Convocation in 1995.

He has held, or currently holds, numerous national/international leadership positions. In Arizona he is a member of several Boards including the University of Arizona College of Science, the Biosphere2, the University of Arizona Cancer Center, the Loft Cinema, and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council. Nationally he is a member of the Board for the State of Maine Biomedical Research Initiative and is a past Co-Chairperson of the National Academies Summer Institutes for Education in Biology. He is also a former member of both the State of Michigan Hazardous Waste Site Review Board and US EPA Science Advisory Board as well advisory boards for NIOSH, NSF and NIH. He served on both the NRC Committee on Undergraduate Science Education and NAS Life Science Board, where he had a leadership role in the preparation of the highly praised publication “Biology 2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists.” More recently he was appointed to the National Science Board Commission on science education and the American Association of Colleges & Universities Leadership Council for Liberal Education.

He is a past-president of the North American Environmental Mutagen Society and of the International Association of Environmental Mutagen Societies, as well as the past editor-in-chief for the international journal “Mutation Research.” He is a former governor for the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research, a past council member for the Council on Undergraduate Research, and a founding member of the Executive Committee for Project Kaleidoscope. He has been, or continues as, a consultant to numerous national and international public and private colleges, universities, and foundations and corporations.

Among his many awards he has received the Alexander Hollaender Research Excellence Award from the Environmental Mutagen Society, the Cancer Medallion of the Japanese National Cancer Institute, and the Science Medal of Distinction of Pisa, Italy. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a National Associate of the National Academies of Sciences, and a National Academies education mentor. He was also honored by Illinois State University with an Alumni Achievement Award and election to the university Hall of Fame, and was given a Special Achievement Award by the Council on Undergraduate Research.

His research programs have focused on plant-activation of environmental carcinogens and on the connection between inflammation and cancer.  He has been program director for numerous grants from the public and private sectors to support his own research as well as institutional education and research.

Gentile has had the opportunity to work with over 125 undergraduate students in collaborative research in his laboratory and has authored and co-authored more 150 research articles, book chapters, book reviews, Huffington Post blogs and special reports in areas of scientific research and higher education.

The division of natural and applied sciences at Hope includes the departments of biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, geological and environmental sciences, mathematics, nursing and physics, and has more than 50 faculty members.  Teaching through collaborative faculty-student research is a priority in the division, through which more than 160 students conduct research with faculty full-time during the summer with about 120 continuing their research studies throughout the school year.  Through the years, the college has been recognized nationally multiple times for the approach.  Among other recent honors, the “America’s Best Colleges” guide published by “U.S. News and World Report” has named the college to its listing of institutions that are exceptional for their emphasis on undergraduate research and creative projects every year since debuting the category in 2003, and the Washington, D.C.-based Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) chose Hope to present the national webinar “Transformational Learning through Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance” in April 2011.