Leading forensic psychologist appointed as Dean of the Wellington Faculty of Science

Professor Louise Dixon, a leading forensic psychologist, has been appointed as Dean of the Wellington Faculty of Science at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Professor Dixon is an internationally respected researcher. Her work focuses on the prevention of interpersonal aggression and violence, and has influenced practice and policy in correctional, policing, psychological, health, and political areas.

As Dean, Professor Dixon will be responsible for the academic direction of the Faculty of Science across research, teaching, and engagement. She has been appointed for a five-year term.

“The Wellington Faculty of Science is conducting leading research and teaching in many areas, from climate change, to biodiscovery, to mental health,” she says. “I’m privileged to be leading a Faculty that is making a real, positive impact on people’s lives.”

Professor Dixon has a strong focus on interdisciplinary research, collaboration and external partnerships, practice and policy impact, and fostering a supportive environment. “We need to ensure an environment that values equity, diversity and inclusion and provides the tools, resources, and opportunities people need to learn and teach robust, cutting-edge science,” she says.

She notes that as well as being the political capital, Wellington is the science capital of New Zealand, with the highest concentration of science organisations in the country. “Our connectedness and collaboration with industry and government gives us the opportunity to maximise our impact.”

Professor Ehsan Mesbahi, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Science, Health, Engineering, Architecture and Design Innovation, says, “Professor Dixon has a record of success in advancing science education, research, and engagement through leadership and will make a fantastic contribution to our University.”

Professor Dixon is the first woman to be appointed to the role of Dean of Science at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington. “While long overdue, this is a significant step in the process of ensuring that the diversity of incredible talent across all disciplines at the University is reflected in its senior leadership,” says Professor Mesbahi.

The Wellington Faculty of Science is one of New Zealand’s top research institutions, attracting around $115 million in external research funding over the past three years. It’s home to a thriving international community of staff and students, with more than 300 staff and more than 3,500 students, around 700 of whom are postgraduates.

The Faculty is made up of four schools that offer excellent teaching and leading research programmes across biology, chemistry, physics, geography, environment and earth sciences, and psychology. Development Studies, Psychology, Earth and Marine Sciences, Geography, Geology, and Geophysics are ranked in the top 150 in the 2022 QS World University Rankings by Subject.