Our next chapter: A conversation with new chair Dr. Cherie Stabler

“My goal is to gain an understanding of everything. I have my ideas, and what we should do, but I’m excited to listen and learn to see what other people think before jumping in.”

As featured in CrossLink Magazine 2023

Dr. Cherie Stabler became the third chair at the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering in May. Stabler is a J. Crayton Pruitt Family and UF Foundation Preeminence Professor in Biomedical Engineering and has been at UF since 2015. Her research expertise is world-renowned, centering on diabetes and engineering. In particular, she focuses on developing novel bioactive materials and devices for cellular implants that target immunological responses and improve cellular function and survival. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University (FSU) in 1998, Stabler earned her doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University.

Stabler sat down with Ph.D. candidate Jessica Aldrich to talk about her goals and plans as chair:

What are you excited about in this new role as chair?
I love academia because I enjoy watching people grow and find their path. And now, getting to do the same thing at all levels, that’s so joyful. It’s amazing watching people find their passion; that feels so cliché, but supporting and helping someone navigate their academic path and find what they are invested in is incredibly rewarding.

How has the transition into this role gone for you?
It has been a lot to learn. But our staff is so wonderful and helpful. They have shown so much grace in helping me navigate everything and figure things out. I really couldn’t be more grateful for them. My first goal is to gain an understanding of everything. I have my ideas and what we should do, but I’m excited to listen and learn what other people think before jumping in.

In the first three months as chair, what have been your priorities?
My current plan is two parts: first, support the team and then support the students. I started by meeting with each staff member 1:1. Those meetings further validated what a special place this is, where people feel comfortable showing who they are. I see our staff’s passion for what we do and how much they love the students. The students really inspire everyone around here.

What are some of your goals as chair?
I want to dig into the academic programs; I loved being the Associate Chair (for graduate studies) and working on systems to serve students better, for example, figuring out ways to encourage and support students applying for external fellowships. I’m a big systems person, so updating and refining our systems is something that I look forward to tackling as departmental chair.

What are you excited about in this new role?
I’m excited to help others find what fulfills them because, in BME, you can do so many things. I want to keep refining and building our academic programs to provide more opportunities for students to explore these various paths. For example, how can we expand internship programs and other connections so our students know what’s out there—creating those opportunities that feed everything.

What do you need from us (students, faculty, staff, alums, stakeholders)?
Communicate. How can we do better? What creative thoughts do you have? I’m open to ways that we can pursue crazy ideas. We need to know what is working, what our bottlenecks are, and how we can streamline them.

Aside from your professional life, what should we know about you?
I’m married with two kids. I love investing time with my family; they are the coolest people I know, so I really enjoy hanging out with them, taking trips, and having adventures. My perfect vacation is time on the boat; I love to fish and the water.

What are your hopes for the future of your research group?
Honestly, I hope nothing changes in terms of productivity and my mentorship. Research is such an important part of my job. I strive to balance supporting my team while taking on this more significant administration role. I am taking a break from teaching, which I will miss, but I hope to return to it once I am more settled into this role.

Is there anything else you want us to know?
I want to give a really big shout-out to all of the amazing people; I am continually reminded that everyone is invested here, and they are so amazing. I’m so lucky to be here. I’m excited to listen, learn, make changes, and grow. I’m thankful for Christine (Schmidt) and her mindful and strategic leadership in developing and growing this establishment. I want to keep asking, ‘How can we get better?’ and to continue down this road of continuous improvement.