Barbara Schaal is dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences and the Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor at Washington Univeristy. In her role as dean, she is responsible for the appointment, promotion, recommendation of tenure, and salary of all faculty members, as well as the appointments of the deans of the College, the Graduate School, and University College. She oversees all academic, financial and administration aspects of Arts & Sciences, including the development and implementation of strategic plans for faculty, students and facilities.
In her scientific career, Schaal is a nationally recognized plant evolutionary biologist. She uses DNA sequences to understand evolutionary processes such as gene flow, geographical differentiation, and the domestication of crop species. Schaal was among the first plant scientists to use molecular biology-based approaches to understand evolutionary processes in plants, and she has worked to advance understanding of plant molecular systematics and population genetics.
Schaal has been president of the Botanical Society of America, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and U.S. National Academy of Sciences, where she served as vice president for eight years. She was appointed as a U.S. science envoy by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Schaal has served as chair of the Division on Earth and Life Studies at the National Research Council and was a member of President Obama’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology from 2009-17.