Dr Fumiko Hoeft is introduced as the new acting director of UConn Waterbury

Dr. Fumiko Hoeft, one of UConn’s most distinguished researchers and director of its Brain Imaging Research Center (BIRC), has been selected to serve as interim director of the UConn Waterbury campus.

Dr. Hoeft was introduced Thursday at a campus event with President Radenka Maric, Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary, UConn Board Member Thomas Ritter, state officials and of the city and members of the local business community.

Dr Hoeft is among the nation’s top researchers in the study of brain function to better understand the neural mechanisms of speech processing, language development, dyslexia and related issues.

She is also deeply involved in student mentorship, community outreach, promoting diversity and inclusion, and service to the University.

She said on Thursday that she was particularly honored and delighted to accept the appointment of acting director because of the strong sense of community. UConn Waterbury and in the city itself, and because its diversity brings so much strength and opportunity for partnerships, economic growth and social entrepreneurship.

“My lifelong passion has been creating transformative change, one person at a time, with the community,” Dr. Hoeft said at Thursday’s event.

“During a recent conversation about transitioning to Waterbury, my close friend said to me, ‘Fumiko, I’ve literally never seen you so excited before.’ It’s how thrilled I am to have this unique opportunity to work with such talented communities on UConn’s Waterbury campus and across the city,” she told event guests.

“I have never seen such a strong community that has a vision with big dreams. Your passion has been contagious.

She takes over the role with the retirement of Angela Brightly, whose 35 years with UConn include serving as interim principal since longtime campus principal William Pizzuto retired earlier this year. The University launched the research process for the permanent holder.

The Waterbury campus, located in the heart of the city center, has over 1,000 undergraduate students and a strong contingent of faculty with multidisciplinary expertise and dedicated to the University’s academic, research and service missions.

UConn Waterbury’s reach and reach have also expanded through initiatives such as the recently announced Waterbury Promise financial aid partnership and the launch of a well-received major in related health sciences.

Dr. Hoeft joined UConn in 2018 as Director of BIRC and Professor of Psychological Sciences, coming from the Weill Institute for Neurosciences at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

While at UConn, she was a prolific scholar and an exemplary member of the UConn community, including receiving the 2021 Innovative Scholarship Award in recognition of her extraordinary service to the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and its students.

“Dr. Fumiko Hoeft is not only a world-renowned researcher in the field of neuroscience; she is a mentor and guide for undergraduate and graduate students,” President Maric said. As Director of the Center for Brain Imaging Research, she has mastered the role of an academic administrator and embodies UConn’s commitment as a public university to the values ​​of teaching, research and service.

In addition to her position as Professor of Psychological Sciences and her position as Director of BIRC, Dr. Hoeft has been appointed Professor of Computer Science, Mathematics, Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Educational Psychology at the ‘UConn. She is also a senior scientist at Haskins Laboratories and co-founder of Haskins Global Literacy Hub.

“She is truly amazing, and I want to say how grateful I am that she took on this challenge and is ready to make a difference in this community, and I am very determined to do the same,” said said President Maric at Thursday’s event in Waterbury.

Dr. Hoeft received pre- and postdoctoral research training at Harvard, UCLA, Caltech and Stanford, and held faculty positions at Stanford and UCSF before joining UConn. She holds undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees from Keio University in Tokyo, where she also served as an adjunct faculty member of its medical school.

She has also established or co-established several other centers and organizations in her academic fields over the years and has obtained significant federal research grant funds, including over $20 million as principal investigator or co-investigator. and an additional $10 million in other roles.

Dr. Hoeft has also launched a speaker series through the Brain Imagining Research Center which has hosted McArthur Genius Grant recipients and other leading neuroscientists.

She also created theBRAIN camp“reading intervention program, and the highly successful”Ask a brain specialist“Online series of hands-on science lessons used by hundreds of children enrolled in Connecticut and elsewhere in the United States

Acting UConn Vice President Anne D’Alleva said she and other members of the University were delighted to work in tandem with Dr Hoeft to realize the vision of the Waterbury campus as a as a driver of economic development, health care education and community vitality.

“The appointment of an outstanding researcher and dynamic leader like Fumiko is a testament to our strong support for this campus and speaks to the importance of our partnership with the City of Waterbury,” said D’Alleva.

Dr. Hoeft has prioritized community engagement and outreach throughout his career, including co-founding the World Association of Young Psychiatrists and Trainees (WAYPT) in 2003, which is now part of the educational program of the World Psychiatric Association.

She said Thursday that community involvement and outreach will be a priority in her work as Acting Campus Principal of UConn Waterbury, along with her commitment to empowering students, faculty, staff and members of the community.

Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary praised Dr Hoeft for addressing issues of importance to the city and region quickly and, like others at Thursday’s event, gave him a standing ovation standing enthusiastic during his presentation.

“One thing that is really important to remember about this campus and which she understands is that yes, obviously it meets the needs of Waterbury students and the city itself in many ways, but it also serves the whole region,” O’Leary said.

“We always say, ‘As Waterbury goes, so goes the region’ and ‘As the region goes, so goes Waterbury’ – so it’s equally important to us that this campus provides opportunities for students from across the region,” said he added. .

Dr Hoeft said she also recognizes and is excited about the good that UConn Waterbury can do on a regional basis – and, she said, potentially across state lines to become a national example. connectivity and community programming.

“We must take advantage of this opportunity to nurture our next generation of talent who value diversity, community and a team approach, and to improve research activities to support our economic growth,” she said. .

“As we come together and co-create, I firmly believe that we will be a leading institution and community – not just regionally, not just in the state of Connecticut, but in our country. I am thrilled to be here to play a role in this monumental moment.

Dr Hoeft said she has started conversations to explore links with Waterbury Public Schools to include teacher mentoring and development programs; bring a STEM van from the Storrs campus to Waterbury to provide on-site learning and research collaboration; ideas for making the campus a hub for social entrepreneurship; and many other opportunities.

She is also considering on-campus service improvements in areas such as mental health services and possibly the creation of a student union, as well as experiential learning opportunities.

“Of course, I don’t expect these changes to happen overnight, but I’m excited to begin the visioning and strategic planning process to make sure this is what the community wants” , she said.

“At Waterbury, I will amplify your voices to turn your dreams into plans, your plans into actions and your actions into results,” she said. “We will have people coming to Waterbury because of what Waterbury is and what it will become. And I am convinced that together we can reach our North Star.

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