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August 01, 2012 | Cecelia Fielding

Rodney J. Brown, dean of the College of Life Sciences at Brigham Young University, recently announced the appointment of three new department chairs in the college.

Dennis K. Shiozawa is chair of the Biology Department, Eric N. Jellen will lead the Plant and Wildlife Sciences Department and Dixon J. Woodbury is chair of the Physiology and Developmental Biology (PDBio) department.

Shiozawa fills the position vacated by Keith A. Crandall, who has served as department chair since 2006, while Jellen replaces outgoing chair Val J. Anderson, who has been chair since 2006. Woodbury takes over for William W. Winder.

A BYU faculty member since August 1978, Dennis Shiozawa has served as curator of fishes at the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum since 1982 and as associate department chair since 2006. An aquatic ecologist, his research ranges from phylogenetics of aquatic organisms in western North America to trophic interactions in aquatic systems to the geologic history of the west.

He received his bachelor’s degree in zoology from Weber State College, a zoology-aquatic ecology master’s degree from BYU and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, in fisheries.

Eric N. Jellen received a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from BYU and master’s and doctoral degrees in plant breeding from the University of Minnesota. Before coming to BYU in 1996, he completed postdoctoral research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Kansas State University.  

Jellen and his colleagues pioneered work on the identification of oat chromosomes, chromosomal rearrangements and chromosome mapping. His peers regard him as the premier oat cytogeneticist in the world.

With his colleagues at BYU, Jellen helped develop DNA-based tools for breeding heartier varieties of quinoa, a highly nutritious “super grain” native to the Andean region of South America. He has also been involved in oat and quinoa genetics research in Israel and with the Ezra T. Benson Institute in Morocco.

Dixon J. Woodbury is a neuroscientist, focusing on the proteins that direct nerve-to-nerve communication. His research is in cellular and molecular physiology and focuses on membrane biophysics, particularly synaptic vesicle fusion.

Woodbury earned double bachelor’s degrees from the University of Utah in chemistry and physics and a doctorate from the University of California, Irvine, in physiology and biophysics. He spent three years in post-doctoral research at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and one year as a research associate at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He was a faculty member at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit for 11 years prior to coming to BYU in 2001.

At the time of his appointment as chair, Woodbury was on the University Graduate Council, the University Academic Review Committee and chair of the PDBio Graduate Committee where he had served since 2003. He was associate director of the BYU Neuroscience Center from 2005-2010.

For more information, contact Dennis K. Shiozawa at (801) 422-4972,, Rick Jellen at (801) 422-7279,, and Dixon J. Woodbury at (801) 422-7562,