Former associate dean assumes new role in BYU administration

Ty Mullen
Laura Bridgewater was recently given the new position of Associate Academic Vice President of Faculty Development. (Ty Mullen)

X marks the spot. Or at least it does for Laura Bridgewater, Ph.D., who has moved to the x-shaped administration building on campus to fill her new role as associate academic vice president of faculty development under Academic Vice President Jim Rasband.

Bridgewater was previously the associate dean of the College of Life Sciences for the past two years and chair of the Microbiology and Molecular Biology Department from 2011 through 2014.

Bridgewater said she oversees the rank and status process for university faculty.

“I don’t know if most students are familiar with that, but all professors go through this rank advancement series,” Bridgewater said. 

Lily Bridgewater, current BYU student majoring in advertising and Bridgewater’s daughter, said this is a great new role for her mother.

“She has a keen eye and a kind heart,” Lily said. “She is logical, and she is fair. She has a good eye for what is right and what needs to be fixed.”

Professor William Zundel, a faculty member in the Microbiology and Molecular Biology Department, said he benefited from Bridgewater’s kind and fair character as department chair when he was being evaluated for continuing faculty status, an important time in his career.

“My observation is that Dr. Bridgewater has your personal best interest at heart,” Zundel said. “She was fundamental to my achieving (tenure).”

Lily also said she admires her mother and her accomplishments.

“I’ve always loved seeing my mom work,” Lily said. “I love hearing from other people what a big deal she is. She is so humble, but she is doing groundbreaking research.”

Her research about potential cures for osteoarthritis and the harmful effects of stress on gut microbiota has been published in many academic journals including BioMed Research International and Scientific Reports.

In addition, she was a prima ballerina in her youth and later graduated from BYU in 1989 with a degree in microbiology. She later went on to receive her Ph.D. in genetics from George Washington University.

Amid Bridgewater’s accomplishments she is most proud of her family. 

“I just feel really lucky. I have some wonderful kids. They are just great human beings. Beyond that, I just try to do my best,” Bridgewater said.

Lily also expressed familial gratitude, especially for her mother’s role and example.

“I feel like (my mom) is always grounded, if things are going well or if things aren’t going well. No matter how successful she becomes, her perspective has always been, ‘I still have more to learn and more to improve on,’” Lily said. 

Bridgewater said working with students is a highlight of her job — a love she said many professors share.

She hopes BYU students will “see their professors as real people, not just as a robot at the front of the room.”  

This slight adjustment, according to Bridgewater, will further promote the sense of community felt on campus.

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