Sive was appointed to the new position of associate dean in the School of Science in 2007. Her initial focus was on educational issues and initiatives, but she soon expanded her role to include work on improving diversity in the School and at MIT more broadly, as well as building a supportive community for the School’s faculty and postdocs.
“Professor Sive created the role of associate dean of science,” says Marc Kastner, the Donner Professor of Science, who stepped down this week as dean of the School of Science. “She has taken the lead in the School’s efforts to increase diversity, and she has represented the School well in all Institute-wide educational activities, especially MITx. I have greatly enjoyed working with her and I am deeply grateful for her partnership during my years as dean.”
During her tenure, Sive played an instrumental role in compiling the 2011 Report on the Status of Women Faculty in the Schools of Science and Engineering, which uncovered several areas for improvement, including a need for better mentoring for junior faculty. In partnership with the MIT Science Council, Sive worked toward increased mentoring and community-building practices within the School of Science. In addition to individual meetings with junior faculty, Sive organized a lunch program for junior faculty members, which provided a forum for networking, professional development, and discussion. She has also been a leader of a group, comprising associate deans from MIT’s five schools, that focuses on diversity and faculty retention.
As associate dean, Sive took a special interest in improving the status of MIT’s large and growing community of postdocs. She worked closely with MIT’s Postdoctoral Association (PDA), serving on its Faculty Postdoctoral Advisory Committee (FPAC). The FPAC works with the Office of the Vice President for Research to help the PDA implement postdoctoral researcher-related improvements and provides faculty support on important related issues.
Sive joined the MIT Department of Biology and the Whitehead Institute in 1991, after earning her PhD from Rockefeller University and conducting postdoctoral research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. Her research uses frogs and the zebrafish as model systems to study the development of the vertebrate embryo — in particular, the nervous system and the extreme anterior of the embryo. Sive has identified more than 50 vertebrate genes involved in the formation of nerve tissue, and has pioneered the use of the mucus-secreting cement gland as a marker of the extreme anterior in frogs and used this to define the genetic network needed to position an organ. Sive’s honors have included naming as a Searle Scholar and a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award.