Joseph A. Whittaker, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor
Dr. Whittaker's professional experience includes over 20 years of undergraduate, graduate and medical education, with countless contributions to each of these fields. He received his bachelor's degree in 1982 from Morgan State University and the doctoral degree in Physiology and Biophysics from Howard University in 1988. He then joined the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis, Tennessee as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Neuroscience Center of Excellence.
Dr. Whittaker later joined the faculty of Howard University, and subsequently Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) in Atlanta, GA, where he served for 14 years in the Departments of Anatomy & Neurobiology as well as Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. He was a member of the MSM medical and graduate faculty, directing courses in Graduate Neuroscience as well as in Psychiatry. In addition, he served multiple terms as Chair of the MSM Faculty Assembly, was appointed to serve on the institution's Executive Search Committee for President, and participated as a member and Chair of the MPH Program Self-study and CEPH Accreditation Review Committee. He also conducted research in basal ganglia anatomy and physiology and spearheaded an initiative to establish the MSM Developmental Neuroscience Program. This initiative drove the design and construction of the current Neuroscience Institute, the first of its kind in a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), and became a prototype for 12 new NIH-supported Specialized Neuroscience Research Programs currently existing at minority-serving institutions across the United States.
In August 2006, Dr. Whittaker returned to his alma mater, Morgan State University, to serve as Dean of the School of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences. He currently oversees more than 150 faculty members in five academic departments; professional programs in Medical Technology and Actuarial Science; and research programs at the Estuarine Research Center and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Through his visionary and collaborative leadership, Dr. Whittaker has facilitated the development of several new academic programs through strategic partnerships and funding from public and corporate entities. Furthermore, he has increased international outreach opportunities within several departments while maintaining the highest standards for scholarship among students and faculty.
Recently, Dr. Whittaker implemented a doctoral program in Industrial and Computational Mathematics; a baccalaureate degree program in Actuarial Science; and certificate programs in Bioinformatics and Applied Interdisciplinary Informatics. The Actuarial Science program is the only formalized program of its kind in the State of Maryland approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission. In addition to academic program development, Dr. Whittaker was instrumental in leading a multidisciplinary team of Morgan State University scientists in winning a joint cooperative agreement from NASA worth nearly $96 million, the largest federal contract in the institution's history.
Beyond Morgan State, Dr. Whittaker has furthered his endeavors and commitment to his profession and the community by serving on numerous scientific review panels and committees at the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Institutes of Health. He has authored several book chapters and numerous articles published in peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals and is an active member of the Society of Neuroscience, the International Brain Research Organization as well as Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, of which he is a Past President. In addition, he is Chair of the Mid-Atlantic HBCU Professional Science Master's (PSM) Alliance and serves on the Board of Directors of several professional organizations, which include the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, the Minority Serving Institutions Research Partnership Consortium (MSIRPC), the National Professional Science Master's Association (NPSMA) as well as the Central Maryland Chapter of the March of Dimes.
Because of his extraordinary professional leadership and service, Dr. Whittaker was the 2008 recipient of the National Role Model Faculty/Administrator Award from Minority Access, Inc. In addition, he was selected by People to People Citizen Ambassador Programs to lead the 2010 Science and Engineering Delegation to South Africa. Most recently, Dr. Whittaker was awarded the 2011 Baltimore Times Positive People Award by The Baltimore Times Publications, as well as the prestigious 2011 Marcus Garvey UNIA Award for his outstanding and dedicated service to education by the Jamaican Association of Maryland.
At present, Dr. Whittaker is actively engaged in the development of international research collaborations as well as faculty and student exchange programs in Finland, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Grenada and Bermuda.