About Dean Behzad Mortazavi
Behzad Mortazavi was appointed Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) at Syracuse University in July 2023. Before that, Mortazavi was a professor of biogeochemistry at the University of Alabama (UA) since 2008 and served as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences in UA’s College of Arts and Sciences since 2018.
As chair at UA, Mortazavi oversaw 42 full time faculty and 1,900 undergraduate students. Among his accomplishments, Mortazavi led successful initiatives spanning fundraising, faculty retention, strategic planning, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). During his tenure as chair, he hired 19 faculty, created a robust fundraising campaign within the department and steered the department through a two-year strategic planning process.
He established the department’s first DEI committee and created a course for undergraduate students at academic risk, including those from underrepresented groups, to teach learning strategies and build a peer support group in a small class setting. He oversaw the implementation of a partnership between the UA’s College of Arts and Sciences and Stillman College (an HBCU) to create an accelerated master’s degree. This program allows Stillman College juniors to work in research labs with faculty in UA’s biology department and enroll in UA’s courses, and to graduate with a master's degree in 5 years.
Mortazavi’s research specializes in hydrology and biogeochemistry. Specifically, he studies the impact of urbanization and climate change on watersheds. One of his recent studies explored the effects of sea level rise and urbanization on coastal marsh loss in Alabama’s Mobile Bay by evaluating satellite and aerial images from 1984 to 2019. His paper revealed a loss of about 30 percent of saltwater marshes in that area over the 30+ years. With marshes being a critical component to the health of the bay as they remove excess nutrients from freshwater entering the bay, stabilize the shoreline, buffer waves, gird against coastal flooding and serve as habitats for wildlife, the study provides policy makers with critical information as they work to protect and restore ecosystems.
Mortazavi has authored or co-authored over 60 peer reviewed publications and his research lab has been supported by over $2 million in federal funding. Among his professional appointments and affiliations, he has served as a program director and interagency liaison for the National Science Foundation and is a member of the Ecological Society of America, the American Geophysical Union, the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography and the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation.
Mortazavi received a Ph.D. at Florida State University in biological oceanography and before that earned a “DEUG” in biology, "License" in marine ecology and "Maitrise" in biological oceanography from the Université de P. & M. Curie, Paris, France. He conducted research as a post-doctoral scientist at Florida State and then took a position there as associate research faculty for four years before starting at the University of Alabama in 2008.