Dr. Christopher Lyles has been named director of the School of Biological and Physical Sciences at Northwestern State University effective July 1. His appointment has been approved by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System. Lyles has been interim director since 2019.
“Dr. Lyles has been a valuable member of the School of Biological and Physical Sciences since joining the faculty in 2015. His impact has grown tremendously over the past six years,” said Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Professor of Biology Dr. Francene Lemoine. “I am extremely appreciative of the exemplary leadership Dr. Lyles has shown over the past two years as he directed the School. To keep such a large academic and service unit not only afloat but growing and thriving during the trying times we have faced recently is incredibly impressive.”
Lyles has been a member of NSU’s School of Biological and Physical Sciences faculty since 2015. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology at NSU in 2004, a master’s degree in marine and environmental biology at Nicholls State University in 2006 and a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Oklahoma in 2013.
“I thank (Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs) Dr. Greg Handel and Dr. Francene Lemoine for this opportunity,” said Lyles. “I look forward to continuing to work with the faculty and the School of Biological and Physical Sciences and my colleagues throughout the university to continue providing strong academic programs for our students that prepare them for life after college.”
The school offers bachelor’s programs in applied microbiology, biology and physical science with several concentrations, pre-professional programs and an associate degree program in veterinary technology.
Lyles has been an active researcher, research mentor to undergraduate students and presenter. Since joining the faculty at NSU he has served on several academic committees and been involved with alumni outreach, grant-writing and service-learning projects.
As interim director, Lyles and faculty in the school have collaborated with the Department of Criminal Justice, History and Social Sciences and other areas to develop a certificate program in Remote Systems Science and Technology. The program received a grant from AEP/SWEPCO for $90,000 to build a new drone laboratory in Kyser.
The school received a Board of Regents enhancement grant for $90,000 to purchase new analytical equipment for new experiential learning labs. Several new positions were developed in biology including two Grady Erwin Nature Reserve liaisons, coordinators for the departments of Biology and Applied Microbiology as well as Physical Science, and several faculty appointments to coordinate and supervise multiple laboratory classes.
Lyles encouraged faculty to find ways to teach online and ‘flex’ classes during the pandemic. This led to successful implementation of new online chemistry classes. Several new classes that focused on professional school preparation as well as increasing the number of natural science electives were added. The school also increased its community engagement as well as media presence.
“None of the accomplishments of the past two years would have been possible without the drive and determination of the amazing faculty in the School of Biological and Physical Sciences,” said Lyles.