Heppell is the first woman to head the department in its 80-year history. The department is the largest within the College of Agricultural Sciences, with nearly 800 students, and among the largest natural sciences department on campus.
Heppell replaces Dan Edge, who earlier in 2015 was appointed the college’s associate dean. Heppell had been serving as interim department head since Edge’s appointment.
In a prepared statement, ag college Dean Dan Arp described Heppell as a distinguished researcher and teacher who had provided “terrific leadership” as interim head of the department.
Heppell has been on the OSU faculty since 2001. She has specialized in studying slow-growing species such as sturgeon, sea turtles, sharks and West Coast rockfish. Among other work, she has used computer models and simulations to study how fish respond to human impacts and climate change — and how they may respond to future climate change.
Heppell and her husband, Scott Heppell, teach a conservation biology course in Eastern Europe and have done fish research in the Caribbean.