Faculty & Staff Spotlight: Pamela Padilla, UNT

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Spotlight Pamela Padilla


Anyone working at UNT for any period of time knows Pamela Padilla, Ph.D., and her research that helped the university reach Tier One status. In January, this professor and dean of the College of Science was chosen to lead UNT's research and innovation division, a position she'll assume on June 5 as she heads into a third decade in Denton. While her research lab might feel like home, she's most at ease in the outdoors, thanks to being born into a family of ranchers on her dad's side. A proud mom and vegetarian, she doesn't say which side of the family is responsible for her devotion to grunge music and this one particular Seattle band that actually predates Pearl Jam. 


What is your favorite aspect about your job?
Working with highly intelligent, innovative and creative people. I find this whether I work with faculty, leadership, staff and students. I really enjoy the interesting people here at UNT.

What led you to pursue your field of expertise?
I love learning about our natural world and using that knowledge to help people, so being a biologist with a focus in genetics fits that. My lab research focus is utilizing genetic models to understand human health issues.

In January, you were appointed vice president of research and innovation. Your own research has helped elevate UNT as a Tier 1 research university. What most excites you about the impact you can have in your new position?
I live “in the trenches” of research, mentoring student researchers, seeking funding etc., so I am not removed from the process and challenges faculty face. I find it interesting to learn about and facilitate the research across disciplines and fields.

What is your proudest work moment? 
Seeing my Ph.D. students successfully complete the program and move on in their careers. Also, being invited by outsiders such as students, faculty and even a couple of Nobel Laureates to present my work at their institutions.

What is your proudest non-work moment?
Seeing my daughter reach adulthood and become a successful, independent, happy person.

What is a fact about you that may surprise your colleagues?
My dad’s family were ranchers, so I spent a lot of time outdoors, learned how to work hard and gained confidence around animals. This childhood experience led to my love of biology, the outdoors and becoming a vegetarian.

I love music and like to go to grunge/rock live music events. My favorite bands are Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Seether and Metallica. In fact, I am meeting guitarist Jerry Cantrell this month at his show in Dallas (guitarist/vocalist for Alice in Chains). I like all their songs.

Hobby?: Walking, running, hiking and playing with my four dogs.

Charitable cause?: I give time and/or money to my favorite nonprofit: SACNAS (STEM diversity organization), animal welfare groups and the UNT food pantry. I want to provide support to organizations and causes that help those in need.