Thursday, September 23, 2021

Introducing David Post, the New Dean of Faculty

Genevieve Soh
Genevieve Soh, ‘24, is a student writer in Cendana. A starry-eyed storyteller, she loves seeking beauty in everything and transforming these discoveries into words.

Story by | Genevieve Soh, Contributing Writer

Image by | David Post

It was announced on Jan. 20, 2021 that, starting from July 1, 2021, Professor David M. Post will serve as the new Dean of Faculty at Yale-NUS College. Prof. Post is an aquatic ecologist and Principal Investigator of the Post Lab (his own research lab) at Yale University. For a term of three years, he will be leading Yale-NUS’s faculty development, driving research endeavors and refining Yale-NUS’s innovative curriculum for the future.

Professor Pericles Lewis, former president of Yale-NUS and the current Vice President for Global Strategy and Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives at Yale, was absolutely delighted when Prof. Post accepted the position of Dean of Faculty at Yale-NUS.

“David is a very modest person,” writes Prof. Lewis to The Octant. “He is great to work with. We have worked closely together on the executive committee of the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, and he is very thoughtful about international research and education.”

Joanne Roberts, the Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs at Yale-NUS, echoes Prof. Lewis’s sentiments.

“Engaging” is the word she used to describe Prof. Post. “He is excited, curious, and so interested. I’ve heard many good things about him from colleagues at Yale, and I’m very excited for what he will bring to the College.”

In anticipation of the new Dean of Faculty’s arrival at Yale-NUS, The Octant held an interview with Prof. Post.

The Octant: Why did you choose to join Yale-NUS? And what are you looking forward to as the new Dean of Faculty?

I was incredibly impressed by what has been achieved at Yale-NUS in its first decade. Yale-NUS has a strong mission and has become a preeminent liberal arts college. As Dean of Faculty, I am excited to join the strong and vibrant academic community at Yale-NUS, and to work with the students, faculty, and staff to maintain and strengthen the College as it transitions into its second decade. I look forward to living and learning with the diverse community at Yale-NUS.

The Octant: Could you tell me about your current impression of the students and staff of Yale-NUS?

I have only met with a couple of Yale-NUS students so I don’t want to make any assumptions. From the outside, I see a community of creative and engaged students. I very much look forward to meeting the students and working with and learning from them. I have been impressed by the commitment of the faculty and staff to creating a supportive and intellectually rewarding living and learning environment.

The Octant: What is your plan for the college, and what initiatives are you thinking of implementing as the Dean of Faculty?

It is too soon to discuss specific initiatives. Those will emerge from conversations with the faculty of Yale-NUS, and colleagues across Yale and the National University of Singapore (NUS). I do plan to challenge the faculty to identify and strengthen areas of distinction that can fortify the curriculum and enrich the scholarship of students and faculty at Yale-NUS. I am looking forward to working with the faculty to maintain excellence in scholarship across all disciplines, to support their professional development, and to help develop new opportunities for collaboration within Yale-NUS and across NUS and Yale.

The Octant: Before joining Yale as a professor, what other work were you pursuing?

Yale was my first faculty position. I started at Yale in 2002. Before that, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, California. I earned my PhD at Cornell University (2000) and my B.S. and M.S. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

I am an aquatic ecologist. I work on complex food web interactions in lakes and streams, interactions between contemporary evolution and ecology, and the way animal movement links ecosystems. I have conducted research in the Antarctic, in lakes and streams across North America, and in Kenya.

At Yale, I teach General Ecology, Advanced Ecology, Limnology, and various graduate courses including Responsible Conduct of Research. My appointment is in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) and I sit on the Environmental Studies Faculty Advisory Committee. I am a fellow in and advise first-year students in Timothy Dwight College, and I advise senior theses in both EEB and Environmental Studies. I have university roles in the Provost office, the Graduate School, and Yale College.

The Octant: Will your family be joining you and be living with you on campus?

Yes, my entire family will be moving to Singapore this summer. My wife, Linda Puth, will be a lecturer at Yale-NUS. At Yale, Linda teaches Conservation Biology, Plants and People, Field Ecology, and the Ecology of Food. She will be teaching some combination of those courses, and perhaps others, at Yale-NUS. I have two daughters, Cassia (16) and Linnea (12). Cassia and Linnea both dance ballet. Cassia is an artist. My family and I are excited to live in and learn from a region and college community located at a crossroad of cultures, to exploring the region, and to participating in life at Yale-NUS.

The Octant: What is something you are looking forward to doing/experiencing in Singapore outside the Yale-NUS campus?

I am looking forward to eating my way through the hawker stalls and restaurants of Singapore. I love the convergence and fusion of foods found in Singapore. 

The Octant: What are your hobbies? And what is one interesting fact about yourself?

I enjoy hiking and camping with my family. I swim regularly and I am very much looking forward to getting back into the pool. I bake most of the bread for my family and I make a decadent chocolate sourdough loaf. I love to share a good whiskey with friends.

I lived in Singapore in 1975-1976 when I was five and six years old. My father was in Singapore to expand local technology and engineering capacity. I have vivid memories of the tropical rain, the satay, and lizards (geckos) in our house. It was a transformative experience for me. I attended Dover Court International School and, for much of our time in Singapore, we lived in the vacated British military housing at Wessex Estate.
Prof. Roberts concludes with inspiration for members of Yale-NUS: “Although we are getting close to the end of our first decade as a college and our mission remains clear, there is always room for innovation and growth as we go forward.” As a message to the Yale-NUS students, staff, and Prof. Post, Prof. Lewis also writes, “Several of us (Professors and staff from Singapore and New Haven) started working to plan Yale-NUS about a decade ago. The college has been successful well beyond our expectations. It is great to see that an excellent Yale faculty member like David will be involved in planning for the college’s second decade.”

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