Valerie Sheares Ashby became the Dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences at Duke University on July 1, 2015. She received her B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill and completed her postdoctoral research at the Universitat Mainz, Germany in 1994 as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and NATO Postdoctoral Fellow.
Ashby comes to Duke from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where she chaired the Department of Chemistry from 2012-2015. As a faculty member at UNC since 2003, she has held numerous leadership positions and has experience at all levels of academic administration. She served on the UNC Arts & Sciences Foundation Board of Directors, and on the UNC Research Advisory Council tasked with strategic planning on interdisciplinary research development. She chaired the university’s Institutional Conflict of Interest Committee as well as the UNC College of Arts & Sciences Faculty Diversity Task Force. She served on the UNC Faculty Executive Committee and advised administration on aligning university priorities with the university mission. She engaged in all aspects of the undergraduate educational experience, including curriculum and advising, in her role as the Chemistry Department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies. And, she directed the UNC National Science Foundation Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate, aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented students completing doctoral degrees and continuing into the professoriate in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and social, behavioral and economics (SBE) fields.
As a researcher, Ashby’s work focused on synthetic polymer chemistry with a present focus on designing and synthesizing materials for biomedical applications such as X-ray contrast agents and drug delivery materials. She is the recipient of the National Science Foundation Career Development Award, the DuPont Young Faculty and 3M Young Faculty Awards.
As an educator, she was recognized with the UNC Chapel Hill General Alumni Association Faculty Service Award, the Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professorship for excellence in undergraduate teaching and research, the J. Carlyle Sitterson Freshman Teaching Award, the UNC Student Undergraduate Teaching Award, and the Johnston Teaching Award for Undergraduate Teaching.