Current PhD Students

PME Dean of Students Office

The Dean of Students Office within the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering provides essential support structures to students and advances the school’s academic mission through an inclusive and student-centered approach. Overall, our mission is to support PME education from recruitment to graduation.  We do so in collaboration with the faculty, with other PME administrative offices, and with the broader University community.

Services and responsibilities

The Dean of Students Office supports PME education from recruitment to graduation. Our responsibilities and services include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Administering graduate student recruitment, admissions, and enrollment, serving as a point of contact for prospective students
  • Facilitating student and faculty navigation of educational program policies, expectations, and funding
  • Serving as the stewards of PME student records, academic systems, and course information
  • Promoting PME student development beyond coursework and research to better position students to address global challenges
  • Working with students on issues of concern and well-being, connecting them to UChicago resources where appropriate
  • Managing student disciplinary processes
  • Organizing and hosting PME special events such as Admitted Students Weekends, New Student Orientation, and Convocation
  • Providing student engagement opportunities, including the PME Dean’s Student Advisory Council
  • Seeking generally to foster an inclusive, collaborative, and supportive learning environment.

Core values

The staff in the PME Dean of Students Office are growth-minded in our approach to working with students, faculty, and staff and are guided by the following core values.

  • Integrity: We regularly evaluate and consider our work to make sure that it reflects the values that we articulate here, that we acknowledge the impact of our actions on others, and that we are accountable to ourselves and to our community
  • Equity: We maintain fairness and impartiality as the foundation of our interactions, practices, and policies
  • Intentionality: Our work is goal-oriented and evidence-based
  • Empowerment: We aim to foster capacity for self-direction in students, faculty, and colleagues
  • Collaboration: We believe that the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and resources advances our work and that of the broader PME
  • Responsiveness: We strive to always respond in a thoughtful and timely manner with robust answers and/or appropriate referrals (typically within two business days)

The Dean of Students, Rovana Popoff, is available to meet with students privately to address any concerns, questions, or issues that may arise during their time at UChicago. Appointments can be scheduled with Dean Popoff by contacting her at

Dean of Students Office staff

Rovana Popoff
Senior Associate Dean for Strategy and Dean of Students
ACC 212

Dean of Students Rovana Popoff is generally responsible for student academic progress, student status changes (e.g., leaves of absence and graduation), management of academic and behavioral disciplinary issues, and providing/coordinating support for students with disabilities and health difficulties. She also regularly meets with individual students to discuss topics such as academic opportunities, lab difficulties, and general well-being.

David Taylor
Associate Dean of Students
ACC 213

Associate Dean of Students David Taylor leads in coordinating our graduate admissions/recruitment processes and in organizing both graduate Orientation and Admitted Students Weekend. He also manages graduate financial aid and divisional administration of fellowships, e.g. Fulbright and National Science Foundation.

Lisa R. Abston
Assistant Dean of Students
ACC 214

Assistant Dean of Students Lisa Abston works closely with the dean of students in tracking/managing graduate student academic progress on quarterly reviews, annual progress reports, advisor matching, candidacy presentations, and dissertation defenses. She is also responsible for managing the processing and on-boarding of all non­degree visiting students. Lisa coordinates the Student Deans Advisory Council.

Laura Rico-Beck
Educational Training and Outreach Coordinator
ACC 215

Laura Rico-Beck helps to coordinate and develop outreach activities for graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty. She engages local communities, schools, and institutions to identify opportunities for support and partnership. She works the dean of students, faculty, and campus offices to provide training opportunities and support for PME's graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.