Dr. Joy K. Ward is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and is a professor of biology at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State University and her master’s and PhD degrees from Duke University in biology. She has a depth of experience in leadership, research and teaching that spans local, national and international levels. As dean, Ward leads over 20 departments across the College, along with major centers including the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, the Schubert Center for Child Studies, the Emerging Scholars Program, the Dittrick Medical History Center, and the Leonard Gelfand STEM Center (K-12 programming).
Ward is internationally recognized for her research on how plants respond to changing atmospheric CO2 and climate over geologic, contemporary and future time scales. She has published a multitude of peer-reviewed research articles, along with the recent book, Photosynthesis, Respiration and Climate Change (Springer 2021). By incorporating the fossil record dating back to the last glacial period, she has uncovered novel insights into how plants responded to rising CO2 and changing climates over thousands of years, as well as understanding how plants will respond to environmental conditions predicted for the future.
In July 2020, Ward was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for her research. In 2009, she received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from the White House and a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Kavli Foundation and U.S. National Academy of Sciences named her a Kavli Fellow, an honor reserved for the nation’s top early-career scientists and engineers. She also served as US chair and advisory board member for the Frontiers of Science (US National Academy of Sciences) in Japan, Oman and Kuwait and has served as a scientific delegate to Uzbekistan through the State Department and the AAAS. In 2022, she will receive the Eberly College of Science Outstanding Science Alumni Award from Penn State University.
Ward has advanced the research and scholarship of faculty and students through multiple initiatives spanning the sciences, arts and humanities, including the Expanding Horizons Initiative that has been supported by nearly $7 million in donor support. She also led the opening of the second phase of the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center. Currently, Dean Ward serves as chair of the advisory committee for the Earth and Biological Sciences Directorate at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and is a member of their overall advisory committee. She also served in advisory and leadership roles for numerous federal and nonprofit agencies, including chairing advisory committees and grant reviews for the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, the U. National Academy of Sciences, and the Israel Science Foundation. She was also a past trustee of the University of Kansas Office of Research and is currently a trustee of the Cleveland Botanical Garden and Holden Arboretum.
While a past professor at the University of Kansas, Ward received the University Scholarly Achievement Award, the Thelma and Edward Wohlgemuth Faculty Scholar Award, the K. Barbara Schowen Undergraduate Research Mentor Award and was named a KU Woman of Distinction and Dean’s Professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She also graduated from the Food Systems Leadership Institute (FSLI), a two-year executive leadership training program sponsored by The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. She has mentored many successful students at the undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral levels, and has been a mentor and strong supporter for several National Institutes of Health programs that focused on enhancing diversity in STEM and related fields.
Dean Ward and her husband, Rob (biology professor at CWRU), reside in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with their daughter, Kirsten (Beaumont School), and Wards’s mother, Joyce Dippery (retired registered nurse, university lecturer and community volunteer). Robert, their son, currently attends the University of Kansas as a triple major in classical languages, classical antiquity and English. During her free time, Ward enjoys reading, gardening and volunteering in the community.