Getting to know Deborah Kristan, Associate Dean in the College of Education, Health & Human Services


Deborah Kristan, PhD
Associate Dean, College of Education, Health and Human Services
Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

What enticed you to accept the position of Associate Dean?
I was thrilled to learn about the opportunity to join the College of Education, Health and Human Services. During this time of administrative transition for our college, I hope to be helpful in support of the fabulous work being done by all members of the CEHHS community. I very much enjoy mentoring and working with faculty, staff and students, working on budget planning and management, and understanding and refining organizational logistics at a college level. I approach situations through the lens of inclusive problem-solving with a goal toward team-supported processes and practices.

What type of research are you doing?
I am fortunate to be able to balance my Associate Dean duties with the continuation of my research. The overarching goal of my research is to understand how non-lethal intestinal parasites affect host physiology. My hope is that with a better understanding of the physiological relationships between parasites and hosts that we can develop more effective therapeutics and vaccines.

What motivates your research?
Globally, approximately 1.7 billion people are infected annually with at least one of several species of intestinal parasitic worms. These intestinal infections fall under the umbrella of ‘neglected tropical diseases’ and while they are most prevalent in developing nations they also occur in the United States, mainly in poor rural areas of the southwest portion of our country. Although these parasites cause relatively low mortality, people who are infected, experience many symptoms of sickness which are most notably expressed as poor school performance by children and poor work productivity by adults.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I spent years as a volunteer with the humane society walking dogs where I developed a fondness for pit bulls and pit bull mixes. I like to watch surgeries but cover my eyes if movie scenes show excessive pretend blood (this completely perplexes my husband!).

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I love to birdwatch, bake, and kayak, all with family and friends.

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