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Biography of Provost Tricia R. Serio

Portrait of Provost Tricia R. Serio

Tricia R. Serio joined the University of Washington as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs in 2023. A biochemist, Dr. Serio also holds a faculty appointment in the UW School of Medicine’s Department of Biochemistry.

As the UW’s academic and budget officer, Dr. Serio is focusing her leadership on core areas to advance the University’s academic mission.

Dr. Serio (she/her pronouns) came to the UW from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she was provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. A professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, Dr. Serio previously served at UMass Amherst as associate chancellor for strategic academic planning and dean of the College of Natural Sciences. She has also held research and professorial positions at the University of Arizona, Brown University and Yale University.

At UMass Amherst, Dr. Serio launched and led initiatives to increase diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging for faculty, staff and students, which included equity action plans for classroom belonging and faculty workload and a staff advisory council. She also established initiatives to promote faculty scholarship and creative activity that focused on sustainability, healthy aging, society and technology, inclusive excellence, data science and mid-career research support.

A first-generation college graduate, Dr. Serio earned her bachelor’s degree in molecular biology at Lehigh University and completed her master’s degree and Ph.D. in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale.

Dr. Serio’s research centers on prion proteins, which are associated with infectious neurodegenerative disease in mammals (e.g., mad cow disease and Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease). These diseases arise when prion proteins change their shape, and a similar process underlies non-infectious neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. An unusual event for proteins, Dr. Serio’s work seeks to understand how these changes in shape are triggered with the goal of blocking or reversing them. Her research uses baker’s yeast as a non-infectious model for experiments at the molecular, cellular, and biochemical levels, and she has a long-standing collaboration with Suzanne Sindi, an applied mathematician at UC Merced, to develop quantitative and predictive models for these transitions.

Dr. Serio has earned numerous recognitions for her research, including being named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellow, a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Research Postdoctoral Fellow, and a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences. She also received the Howard Temin Award from the National Cancer Institute and the Mid-Career Award for Research Excellence from the American Society of Cell Biology, and she is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.