Texas Tech University

Innovative Leadership

TTU biology professor & chair Jenn Burns

Jennifer Burns Leads Biology as New Chair

Biology Professor Specializes in Marine Mammal Research


Texas Tech University's College of Arts & Sciences is proud to welcome Jennifer Burns, Ph.D., as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. She assumed the position effective June 1.

As chair, Burns leads more than 40 tenure-track faculty and research/teaching professionals, a strong cohort of adjunct and affiliate professors and scientists, a graduate program that counts more than 120 students, and an undergraduate program of some 1,600 undergraduate student majors.

“I am thrilled to be coming to a department where there is so much capacity for growth in both research and teaching endeavors,” Burns says. “My focus moving forward will be to increase faculty and student diversity; to grow our health, ecological, and environmental related research and capacity; and to foster academic programs that will develop the next generation of STEM scientists.”

In today's world, she says, the study of biology holds an increasingly important place.

“While certainly challenging, these turbulent times have highlighted how connected human and natural systems are, and the benefits that a vigorous and diverse biology program can provide to our students, our communities and our world.”

Burns, who joined Texas Tech from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), brings with her more than two decades of research exploring the linkages between physiology, nutrition, and performance in mammalian systems.

At UAA, Burns' lab studied the physiological ecology of marine mammals—primarily those in the polar regions—and the challenges those species face to obtain food in a highly seasonal environment. She will continue her relationship with UAA as an affiliate professor.

Her many leadership roles include, most recently, two positions in the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs: program director of Antarctic Integrated System Science and co-program director of Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems.

Burns earned her Ph.D. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Marine Sciences and her M.S. from the University of Washington, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

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