Associate Dean Ward leads initiatives to enhance research productivity, collaboration, and external funding in the College and maintains an inclusive environment that supports a diverse community of scholars. She also oversees all faculty hiring in the sciences and communicates the importance of College research to the KU community, donors, federal agencies, and society at large. Furthermore, she collaborates closely with the Associate Dean for Research in the Arts and Humanities to support interdisciplinary research across the College, the campus, and at the national and international levels.
Dr. Ward joined the KU faculty in 2003 and is currently a Dean's Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She has made major advances in understanding how plants respond to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and changing climates over contemporary and geologic time scales. She has received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the KU University Scholarly Achievement Award, the Thelma and Edward Wohlgemuth Faculty Scholar Award, the K. Barbara Schowen Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, and she was named a KU Woman of Distinction. She has acquired long-term funding from NSF, the USDA, and the DOE. She also served as a three-time chair for the Frontiers of Science program sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences and has served as a State Department science delegate to Uzbekistan. She is also a graduate of the Food Systems Leadership Institute (FSLI) executive training program and was a KU Senior Administrative Fellow.