Our History

The Ayala School of Biological Sciences was one of the original schools founded when the University campus first opened in 1965. Dean Edward A. Steinhaus, founding Dean, recruited his four founding department chairs and initial faculty of 17 professors, following the model the University had established which required every founding faculty member to be an outstanding researcher and good teacher.

Deans of the School of Biological Sciences

Edward A. Steinhaus, Ph.D.Founding Dean, 1963-67
The founding dean of the School of Biological Sciences, Edward A. Steinhaus
introduced a novel approach to teaching biology coined “the new biology.”

In 1968, Professor Steinhaus became the first UCI faculty member elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Following his death, the original Biological Sciences Building was renamed Edward A. Steinhaus Hall in his honor.
James L. McGaugh, Ph.D.1967-70
James L. McGaugh was recruited to UCI in 1964 to be the founding chair of the department of Psychobiology (now, Neurobiology and Behavior). Professor McGaugh was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1989, and awarded the UCI Medal in 1992. A decade later, he was honored with the naming of McGaugh Hall.
Howard A. Schneiderman, Ph.D.1970-79
Howard A. Schneiderman was appointed dean 3 months after being recruited to UCI. During his tenure, he greatly increased the school’s research funding and recruited top research faculty. In 1975, Schneiderman was the second UCI professor elected to the National Academy of Sciences. In 2003, the Science Lecture Hall was renamed to the Schneiderman Lecture Hall in his memory.
Grover C. Stephens, Ph.D.1982-86
An expert in the physiology of marine organisms, Professor Stephens’ work lead to a better understanding of how ocean systems work. In 1982, he assumed the deanship of the school and helped build up Development and Cell Biology by recruiting key faculty members, including fellow physiologist and future school dean, Al Bennett.
L. Dennis Smith, Ph.D.1987-90
L. Dennis Smith was recruited to UCI to become the fifth dean of the School of Biological Sciences. By that time the school had grown substantially, and was the largest and most popular academic program on campus. During his tenure, Professor Smith oversaw a major physical expansion of the school, via state-funded laboratory and office space, as well as the construction of a state-of- the-art science library.
Elvera R. Ehrenfeld, Ph.D.1992-96
Elvera Ehrenfeld’s appointment as dean of the School of Biological Sciences was a milestone in the university’s history. Not only was she the first female dean of Biological Sciences, but she was the first woman to head any academic school at UCI. An expert in the biochemistry of viruses, Professor Ehrenfeld worked hard to grow and strengthening the field of structural biology while dean.
Shin Lin, Ph.D.1997-2000
Shin Lin was recruited as the seventh dean of the School of Biological Sciences from Johns Hopkins University. During his tenure as dean, Professor Lin extolled the value of a biology degree as a path to careers other than medicine.
Susan V. Bryant, Ph.D.2000-06
In 1970, Susan V. Bryant became the first female faculty member of the School of Biological Sciences. Professor Bryant, an expert in the study of limb regeneration, has been the driving force for a wide range of initiatives, including advancing stem cell research. As dean, she led the efforts to secure a five-year $3.45 million National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant to address gender inequities at UCI.
Albert F. Bennett, Ph.D.2007-13
Professor Bennett shepherded the school through a 40% increase in demand for its undergraduate majors. Under his leadership, the school added several degree programs, including the Biology/Education major and the Human Biology major. He also spearheaded efforts to create new research opportunities and helped forge new community relationships with organizations like the Irvine Ranch Conservancy.