Dr. Deirdre Jackson

2022 Alumna Legacy Awardee


Dr. Deirdre Gonsalves-Jackson is the Dean of the Virginia Wesleyan University Global Campus and Associate Professor of Biology. She obtained her B.A. in biology from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (Randolph College), M.S. in biology with a concentration in marine biology from Florida Atlantic University, and Ph.D. in marine biology from Florida Institute of Technology. Dr. Gonsalves-Jackson’s area of research focuses on the systematics and developmental strategies of opisthobranch mollusks (sea slugs) from the tropical Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean. Closer to home, her research focuses on biodiversity and feeding specificity of opisthobranchs and sponges in the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to researching marine invertebrates, other projects include STEM education and outreach. She is engaged in initiatives that recruit and retain underrepresented groups in STEM. Her initiatives have resulted in collaborative NSF awards totaling over $1.4 million.

Dr. Gonsalves-Jackson also serves as co-director for the VWU Environmental Institute, a summer residential environmental science program for rising ninth grade girls. The Environmental Institute received the 2020 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.

Prior to serving as Dean of VWU Global Campus, Dr. Gonsalves-Jackson was the Director of January Term and Summer Sessions (2017-2020) and Director of Nursing and Allied Health (2020). She is the recipient of the 2013 Service and Community Engagement Award and the Batten Scholar Award (2012-2015), and she is a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, Beta Beta Beta National Biology Honor Society, and Sigma Zeta National Science and Mathematics Honor Society.

When not engaged in all things sea slugs, Dr. Gonsalves-Jackson enjoys traveling to the tropics and spending time with her family of three teens, Abigail, Ella and Rhys, her husband, Dr. Craig Jackson (who has been a member of the VWU Department of Psychology for 17 years), their two morkies, Roxy and Buster, and guinea pigs, George and Pip Squeak.


Randolph College - B.A. in Biology

Florida Atlantic University - M.S. in Biology

Florida Tech - Ph.D. in Marine Biology