PULLMAN, Wash. — Scientists John Nilson and George Lake have been hired to fill leadership positions in the College of Sciences at Washington State University.

The former chair of Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Pharmacology, Nilson has been named director of the WSU School of Molecular Biosciences. Lake, formerly at the University of Washington, has joined the WSU Department of Physics as the Claire May and William Band Endowed Chair of Theoretical Physics. 

According to Michael Griswold, dean of the College of Sciences, the two are national leaders in their fields and will help attract other top ranking scientists to WSU. “By hiring faculty of the quality of Nilson and Lake, we have reaffirmed our commitment to world-class excellence,” he said.

“I was drawn to Washington State University because of the strong undergraduate and graduate programs within the School of Molecular Biosciences,” Nilson said. He intends to encourage interdisciplinary interactions by WSU faculty in the school.

Nilson, a reproductive endocrinologist, will also hold the Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professorship at the college. At Case, he served as the John H. Hord Distinguished Professor and was chair of pharmacology for the last five years, where he was a member of the department since 1980. Nilson was editor in chief for the journal Molecular Endocrinology and is vice president-basic science of the Endocrine Society.

Lake chose to accept a position at WSU because of the faith and confidence that the faculty has in the current administration and its commitment to initiatives in biotechnology, computational science and astrophysics.

Prior to coming to WSU, Lake held professorships in the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle and in UW’s departments of astronomy and physics.  He was the President’s Professor of Computer Science at the University of Alaska and the chief scientist at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. He also recently was the project scientist for NASA’s High Performance Computing and Communications Earth and Space Science Project.

Nilson earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology at the University of Tulsa and a doctorate in biology at the University of New Mexico. His primary research focuses on the molecular biology of genes encoding major reproductive hormones, and his laboratory is interested in developing transgenic mice that model disease in human reproduction.

Lake earned a doctorate and master’s degree in physics from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy at Haverford College.  His diverse research delves into the formation of galaxies and large-scale cosmic structures, the origin of biological “Big Bangs,” such as the mammalian radiation and the Cambrian explosions, and biological network dynamics.