Provost Biography

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Nathan Urban

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Nathan Urban joined Lehigh University as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs on July 1, 2020. As provost, Dr. Urban serves as the university's chief academic officer and will oversee all academic matters at the university while working collaboratively with the president and university leadership on the implementation of the Path to Prominence and GO: The Campaign for Lehigh. Additionally, Nathan will lead the formulation and development of a new strategic plan that will guide the university’s growth into the next decade.

Prior to joining Lehigh, Nathan's was Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Neurobiology, the Associate Director of the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute and co-Director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at the University of Pittsburgh. In June 2017, he was appointed to Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Strategic Initiatives after serving as the Vice Provost for Special Projects beginning in 2015. Prior to joining Pitt, Urban was a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University where he was the Frederick Schwertz Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences, served as Head of the Department of Biological Sciences (2010-2014) and interim Provost from 2014-2015.

As the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies at Pitt, Nathan worked with graduate students and postdocs to understand their perspectives on their experience at Pitt. He connected directly with students via a monthly newsletter, social media channels, events and forums, and a monthly office hour. He instituted an annual Graduate Studies retreat that brings together faculty, administrators, and student leaders from the 14 schools that offer graduate programs. These have resulted in increased access to and awareness of mental health resources, the placement of ombudspersons—who advocate for students—in each of the schools, recommendations on a thoughtful use of GRE in graduate admissions, and a new initiative to improve the mentoring of graduate students. Similarly, at the postdoctoral level, Nathan met regularly with the officers from the University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral Association and helped them promote University resources and services to post-docs.

Urban graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1991 with majors in Neuroscience and Mathematics and Philosophy. Following graduation, he attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar before returning to the University of Pittsburgh to earn his Ph.D. in Neuroscience. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg Germany, Urban joined Carnegie Mellon's Department of Biological Sciences in 2002. Urban’s scientific work continues to focus on experimental and computational analysis of sensory processing by neural circuits in the mouse brain, with a focus on the sense of smell. He is also interested in development of new techniques and methods for neuroscience, especially in the areas of recordings of brain activity and the computational analysis of behavior. His work has been funded by NIH, NSF, DARPA, AFOSR, the Simons Foundation, the Commonwealth of PA and the Human Frontiers Science Program.

A Conversation with New Lehigh Provost Nathan Urban