Joshua Pierce has been named director of NC State’s Integrative Sciences Initiative (ISI), effective February 1, 2022. He will report directly to Rob Dunn, interim senior vice provost for University Interdisciplinary Programs, who, along with Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Warwick Arden, made the announcement today.
Pierce, an associate professor of chemistry, LORD Corporation Distinguished Scholar and University Faculty Scholar, also serves as co-director of NC State’s Comparative Medicine Institute and director of the Chemistry of Life NIH T32 training program. He will work with a large team to coordinate the design and realization of the Integrative Sciences Building (ISB). He will also lead collaborative efforts by ISI theme leaders to bring together scholars and students from biochemistry, biological sciences, chemistry, engineering, biomedical sciences and microbiology in one place.
“Josh’s leadership will allow us to build upon existing excellence in STEM disciplines. He will also spearhead new initiatives that embrace interdisciplinarity teaching, research and innovation in these fields and beyond,” said Dunn. “I look forward to working with him and seeing how he engages the rest of campus in what we’ll do within the ISI.”
The ISI, and its home base, the ISB, will change the way science is done at NC State by facilitating new synergies in research and education, synergies with real-world consequences for research applications and student success. This includes tackling challenges posed by infectious diseases and cancers. To meet these monumental challenges, three thematic areas have so-far been identified. Those are: molecular mechanisms of metabolism and disease; molecular synthesis and characterization; and molecular therapeutics and drug discovery. In each of these thematic areas, scientists and students will work together to study, synthesize and screen molecules and molecular pathways in the context of human and animal disease.
Research and teaching across these themes will embrace cutting edge technologies in shared spaces and core facilities provided by the ISI, placing NC State at the forefront of interdisciplinarity and changing the culture of scientific discovery Collaborations within and across ISI Chemistry of Life themes will infuse the training and research environment for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff, in a manner that is unprecedented at NC State.
Pierce joined the NC State faculty in 2012. He is co-director of the Comparative Medicine Institute, serves on the executive advisory boards for the CMI and the Undergraduate Research Advisory Committee, is director of the Chemistry of Life training program, and a member of the University Budget Committee. He also heads the Pierce Research Group at NC State, which focuses on harnessing the diverse architectures of marine natural products to inspire advances in chemical reaction development, chemical biology and therapeutic lead identification.
Pierce has received a National Science Foundation CAREER award, the Chancellor’s Innovation Award and the Sigma Xi Faculty Research Award, in addition to being named a University Faculty Scholar. He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers and given more than 75 invited lectures around the world. In 2018, he founded Synoxa Sciences, which is working to develop small-molecule antibiotics that are effective against multidrug-resistant, life-threatening bacterial infections.
Previously, he completed postdoctoral studies at The Scripps Research Institute before joining NC State. He received his Bachelor of Science in chemistry and Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh.