Nathan Urban

  • Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Strategic Initiatives
  • Associate Director of the Brain Institute

Key Areas

Graduate student resources • Pitt graduate programs • Pitt professional programs • new graduate/professional program development • support for graduate/professional students • graduate/professional student policies • postdoctoral scholars and associates

Vice Provost Role

As the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, Nathan Urban works with graduate and professional students to understand their perspectives on the graduate experience at Pitt. He has created new opportunities to connect directly with students via a monthly newsletter, social media channels, events and forums, and a monthly office hour. To foster graduate community, he has helped to establish the Graduate and Professional Student Government lounge in the William Pitt Union (opening fall 2019) and to expand the graduate study and dissertation writing rooms in Hillman Library. He has instituted an annual Graduate Studies retreat that brings together faculty, administrators, and student leaders from the 14 schools that offer graduate programs. These have resulted in increased access to and awareness of mental health resources, the placement of ombudspersons—who advocate for students—in each of the schools, recommendations on a thoughtful use of GRE in graduate admissions, and a new initiative to improve the mentoring of graduate students. Similarly, at the postdoctoral level, Nathan meets regularly with the officers from the University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral Association and helps them promote University resources and services to post-docs.

Additionally, Nathan Urban oversees all graduate and professional academic programs, including program creation and policies. He is involved in developing and supporting strategic initiatives to expand graduate and professional programs. He has led efforts to personalize the student experience.

Professional Biography

Nathan Urban is Professor and the Associate Chair of the Department of Neurobiology, the Associate Director of the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute and co-Director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition. In June 2017, he was appointed to Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Strategic Initiatives after serving as the Vice Provost for Special Projects beginning in 2015. Prior to Joining Pitt, Urban was a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon where he was the Frederick Schwertz Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences and served as Head of the Department of Biological Sciences (2010-2014) and interim Provost from 2014-2015. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg Germany, Urban joined Carnegie Mellon's Department of Biological Sciences in 2002. His work has been funded by NIH, NSF, DARPA, AFOSR, the Simons Foundation, the Commonwealth of PA and the Human Frontiers Science Program.

Education & Training

  • PhD in Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh
  • Rhodes Scholar, BA in Math and Philosophy, Oxford University
  • BS in Neuroscience, Math and Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh

Research Interests

  • Experimental and computational analysis of sensory processing by neural circuits in the mouse brain, with a focus on the sense of smell
  • Development of new techniques and methods for neuroscience, especially in the areas of recordings of brain activity and the computational analysis of behavior