Valerie Sheares Ashby 2023

Dr Valerie Sheares Ashby

My Career Journey: Polymer Science to Academic Leadership

President Sheares Ashby shares her career journey from polymer science to academic leadership. 

Monday, April 3th, 4:30-5:30pm, AOK Library Gallery, Reception to Follow

Valerie Sheares Ashby began as president of UMBC on August 1, 2022. She is the first woman to serve in this role.

She joined UMBC from Duke University, where she had served since 2015 as dean of the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. As dean, she led a 700-person faculty, spanning nearly 40 departments and programs, in rethinking what it means to deliver a world-class liberal arts education while navigating a pandemic. Throughout, she consistently advanced diversity and inclusion as a means of achieving excellence in both teaching and research.

Prior to her tenure at Duke, Sheares Ashby served on the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and chaired its chemistry department from 2012 to 2015. In her role as department chair, she was instrumental in UNC’s collaboration with UMBC to launch the Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program, among the earliest Meyerhoff Scholars replication pilots at an R1 institution. She began her academic career at Iowa State University as an assistant professor in 1996 and was promoted to associate professor in 2002. While at Iowa State, Sheares Ashby was a mentor for the Iowa State University Program for Women in Science & Engineering, a summer research program for undergraduate and high school students.

As a researcher, Sheares Ashby has focused on synthetic polymer chemistry, with an emphasis 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, DuPont Young Faculty Award, and 3M Young Faculty Award, as well as numerous teaching awards.

She received her B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed postdoctoral research at Universitat Mainz in Germany as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and NATO Postdoctoral Fellow.