Professor Nathaniel Whitaker Named Interim Dean of College of Natural Sciences at UMass Amherst

Nathaniel Whitaker, department head and professor of mathematics and statistics, has been named interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences at UMass Amherst, it was announced by Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs John McCarthy and Provost-elect Tricia Serio.

NEWS Nathaniel Whitaker
Nathaniel Whitaker

Whitaker will assume duties on July 18 when current CNS Dean Serio becomes provost of the university. A national search will take place in the fall for a new dean.

“It is a privilege to appoint Professor Whitaker as the interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences as one of my last official acts as provost,” said McCarthy. “He is known across campus as an exceptional leader and an individual of great personal integrity.”

“I am thrilled for both Professor Whitaker and the College of Natural Sciences,” noted Serio. “Professor Whitaker is a value-centered, collaborative and impactful leader who will support the on-going success of all faculty, staff and students as a core tenet of our mission. I look forward to continuing to work with him in this new role.”

Whitaker, an applied mathematician, has wide research interests that span fluid mathematics, mathematical biology and numerical analysis. His contributions to in fluid mechanics include numerical solutions for multiphase flow of Hele-Shaw equations. His work in mathematical biology includes modeling the growth of vascular networks associated with tumors, and modeling the processing of sodium in the kidney. He has also contributed to the study of two-dimensional turbulence and nonlinear Schrödinger equations using methods from statistical mechanics.

Since 2018, Whitaker has served as head of the department of mathematics and statistics. Over his career, he has demonstrated a significant commitment to diversity and community service. For example, Whitaker was part of a group of families that founded and ran for nine years the AIMS program, teaching accelerated math to African American students, and more recently he has been part of the program providing college courses to incarcerated students in the Hampshire County House of Corrections. 

Whitaker earned his bachelor’s degree from the Hampton Institute. He received his master’s in mathematics from the University of Cincinnati and his Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley. He has been at UMass Amherst since 1987.

Whitaker was selected after recommendations were received from the College Personnel Committee and others.