Cancer researcher and former chair of the Biology Department, Dr. Jason Bush, has now served a full semester as Associate Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics and earned some “street cred” on the job.
Bush says the best part of his new position is working with students from all disciplines, hearing their views, and interacting with them.
“I’m excited to be in the Dean’s office because I get the opportunity to work directly with the Dean and implement the vision he has for the college,” Bush said. “I believe the CSM is positioned to lead the university and foster new economic development in the region.”
Bush and CSM Dean Dr. Christopher Meyer have formed a good-cop-good-cop tag team seeking ways to promote student, staff, and faculty activities to make the College a haven for interdisciplinary excellence that supports all aspects of STEM education.
His new office inside the Dean’s Office suite in Science II 301 is spacious, with large windows boasting matching brown maple furniture that’s neat but not over-the-top in an academic setting. The wall-side of his L-shaped desk houses his laptop with two monitors against a green backdrop, providing him a private workspace that makes him invisible from the suite’s lobby.
“I am a staunch advocate of education through research and wholeheartedly support all endeavors that lead to capacity building and student success programs in STEM. If we view society as a train, STEM is undeniably its locomotive.” Dr. Jason Bush, Associate Dean, College of Science and Mathematics
A small roundtable with two chairs, a much-appreciated hand-me-down from former interim Associate Dean Dr. Constance Jones, sits on the right side of the room, a workspace designed for one-on-one meetings or a quick meal in the office.
He credits his wife, Wendy, and teenage daughters, Paxton and Audrey, for the neatly placed wall decorations, which include artwork and family photos adorning the clean beige walls.
Captured on a wall-to-wall bookcase in the front of his office are items representing Bush’s history in mementos and things he has collected over the years. Central to the display is a blue and white Lucha Libre mask a colleague brought him from Mexico.
“I got this mask from Dr. Blumenshine. I’ve always been intrigued by Lucha Libre,” Bush said. “He [Blumenshine] went to Mexico City for a vacation and asked if I wanted anything and I chuckled and said yes, a wrestler’s mask; I thought it would be fun to enter one of our faculty meetings wearing it.”
Bush said he never wore the mask to a faculty meeting. Still, there are plenty of opportunities to wear it in the numerous high-profile university meetings he attends in his new capacity.
“The goal is to position Central Valley as California’s next big biotech epicenter by rejuvenating our industry-university collaborations,” Dr. Jason Bush.
The associate dean’s office is a beehive of activity, with Bush frequently hosting meetings with staff, students, and faculty. A sign on the door, “Zooming, please knock,” announces when he’s attending virtual meetings.
While not explicitly stated, Bush exercises an open-door policy. Those without an appointment can quickly get his attention by popping their head at his door, and he promptly waves them in and swivels his chair from the screen for a chat on the side of his desk.
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which he describes as “the cold part of central Canada” Bush says his parents ‘got smart’ when they moved west, raising him in the West Coast on Vancouver Island and Vancouver, British Columbia an area with mild but rainy weather.
In 2002, Bush began his American adventure by relocating to La Jolla, a town in San Diego known for its beautiful coastline, moving away from his extended family in Canada.
He became a part of Fresno State in 2006 and has dedicated 17 years to the university, including three years as the biology department chair.
Bush has struck a deep connection with his local community, saying, “Our friends and neighbors in Fresno have become our adopted families.”
His extensive experience and involvement gives him a unique insight into the university’s dynamics, equipping him with a clear vision for his new role.
In College-level meetings, Bush, who’s often the highest-ranking CSM official in the room, only second to the dean, has a subtle, effective way of making people feel at ease.
“Call me Jason,” he says.
He always brings his legal pad to take notes, frequently chiming in conversations to add to a point or ask for clarifications in a deliberate voice that conveys thoughtfulness and easy humor.
His attention to detail extends to the links. An avid golfer, Bush keeps close track of his scores and notes how many putts it took to get the ball in the hole, which makes his scorecard look like he’s recording in improper fractions.
In the dean’s office weekly huddle deliberations, the associate dean and dean alliance complement each other, keeping the staff informed about what’s happening, getting direct feedback from staff members, and creating a positive atmosphere where staff easily share their views in a safe space.
Beyond routine office work, Bush relishes his time with students. “I’m Jason Bush, associate dean at the College of Science and Math,” he introduced himself multiple times when hosting the Donut with the Dean event in August last year, his first official act as associate dean.
During a meet-and-greet session with the Dean Student Advisory Council (DSAC) members, Bush made a point of having a personal conversation with almost every member present.
He delved into small talk, answered questions about various academic topics, and shared jokes while urging students to eat more pizza.
“I am a staunch advocate of education through research and wholeheartedly support all endeavors that lead to capacity building and student success programs in STEM, Dr. Bush said. “If we view society as a train, STEM is undeniably its locomotive.”
A committed educator, Dr. Bush said his entire career has been a learning expedition.
“Every milestone in my journey has been a lesson, shaping my vision for academia,” Bush said.
Unveiling the Vision
Reiterating the value of immersive learning, Bush emphasizes focusing on High-Impact Practices (HIPs) in both the classroom and laboratory.
“Our student learning outcomes should center around skill-building and underscore both the hard and power skills they accumulate,” Bush said. “I see immense potential in initiatives like badging and micro-certificates to exemplify these traits.”
He also acknowledged the necessity of timely and relevant career guidance for students and expressed enthusiasm about leveraging emerging classroom technologies.
Bush proudly acknowledged the College’s R2 status, noting, “Our achievements in research are commendable, but it’s vital to maintain this momentum,” Bush says.
R2 designation means an institution is involved in high research activities. He explained that this involves supporting faculty in grant pursuits and aligning with the dean’s objectives.
“The goal is to position Central Valley as California’s next big biotech epicenter by rejuvenating our industry-university collaborations,” Bush shared his bold vision.
A holistic view of mentoring and leadership shapes Bush’s mentality toward skills development.
“Mentorship isn’t just a student-faculty relationship. It’s an institution-wide culture of learning and evolution,” the associate dean said.
To this end, he proposed the development of a comprehensive mentor training program catering to all faculty levels.
Looking at the future, Bush is keen on addressing challenges in scientific outreach.
“In an age marked by skepticism toward science, our responsibilities extend far beyond academic walls. It’s imperative to engage the community, championing STEM and fostering science literacy and advocacy,” Bush said.
He also emphasized the value of earning a science degree, emphasizing its importance for community integration, enrollment boosts, and retaining students.
“Our student learning outcomes should center around skill-building and underscore both the hard and power skills they accumulate. I see immense potential in initiatives like badging and micro-certificates to exemplify these traits;– Dr. Jason Bush.
A Luminary in Biology and Medical Research
Bush’s academic and professional journey paints a picture of a relentless pursuit of knowledge, dedication to education, and a commitment to cancer research.
His academic journey began at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Genetics and a Master of Science in Zoology. He later earned his Ph.D. in experimental medicine,
Post-Ph.D., Bush ventured into cancer biology during his postdoctoral research at the Sanford-Burnham-Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, California. From 2002 to 2006, he immersed himself in groundbreaking research that would later define much of his career.
Ascending the Academic Ranks at Fresno State
In 2006, Bush joined the Fresno State Biology Department, moving through the academic ranks from assistant to full professor. In 2020, he became the department chair, foregoing a sabbatical to navigate the department through the tumultuous COVID-19 pandemic.
A Role Model and Mentor: Awards and Honors
Bush’s excellence has not gone unnoticed. In 2012, he was honored with the Provost Promising Young Faculty Award at Fresno State. The university also acknowledged his mentoring capabilities with nominations for the Outstanding Mentor Award in 2012 and 2022. Other notable achievements include a visiting professorship in Germany and the 2014 Power of One Award from the breast cancer Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a leading organization dedicated to breast cancer research, education, advocacy, and support services.
Beyond his academic duties, Bush has played significant roles in various statewide and national programs. In 2012, the governor appointed him to the Carcinogen Identification Committee. He also reviews the Breast Cancer Research Program for the Department of Defense, a congressionally directed medical research program.
His dedication to mentorship is evident in his guidance of over 30 master’s students and over 80 undergraduates in his research lab and his involvement in the NCI-funded Cancer Scholars Program. Bush is also an adjunct faculty member at UCSF-Fresno, collaborating with numerous physician colleagues.
In addition to playing golf, Bush enjoys running and traveling and always seeks new experiences.
Most importantly, he values spending quality time with his family and balancing his professional commitments with his personal life. He thanks his wife, and daughters for being his bedrock.