Becker to lead UNL’s biochemistry department

Dr. Donald Becker
June 30, 2020

Lincoln, Neb. —Dr. Donald Becker has been selected to lead the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s department of biochemistry. Becker, who has spent nearly 20 years as part of the biochemistry department faculty, will assume the department chair position on July 1.

He succeeds Paul Black, who is retiring.

Becker grew up in Fremont and Elkhorn and attended Bethel College in St. Paul., Minn., where he received his undergraduate degree in chemistry before pursuing his doctoral degree in biological chemistry at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

He first joined UNL’s biochemistry department in 1995 as a post-doctoral associate and spent three years working in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Ragsdale. In 1998, Becker joined the faculty of the University of Missouri--St. Louis as an assistant professor in the chemistry department. In 2003, he returned to UNL’s biochemistry department, where he also became part of the newly formed Redox Biology Center.  

Becker has served as the director of the Redox Biology Center since 2009. He also serves as the director of the Redox Biology Summer National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, as well as the director of the Molecular Mechanisms of Disease National Institutes of Health T32 training program.

Becker’s research program is in redox enzymology and proline metabolism, and he has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

“Dr. Becker is an innovative and highly respected researcher who brings a wealth of leadership experience to the position,” said Mike Boehm, vice chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UNL and vice president for agriculture and natural resources for the University of Nebraska. “He is also a wonderful teacher and mentor. I am thrilled he will lead our excellent biochemistry department into the future.”

Becker thanked outgoing chair Paul Black and said he was excited to continue the department’s tradition of excellence in teaching and research.

"I'm very glad to be working with talented students, staff, and faculty in the biochemistry department,” Becker said. “The department is well poised to advance new research and educational opportunities that inspires innovation and prepares students for successful careers that benefit Nebraska and the world."