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Dr. Jai’s Bio

Dr. Jai Vartikar is honored to serve as First Lady of Florida State University. She has a passion for higher education and brings her wealth of experience in administration, research, and teaching to her role as First Lady.

Born in India, she moved to Pennsylvania as a young child and graduated as valedictorian of her class at Waynesburg Central High School. She received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania, and master’s and doctoral degrees in chemistry from the Johns Hopkins University. She met Richard McCullough, now Florida State University’s 16th president, when both were graduate students at Johns Hopkins.

Prior to coming to FSU, Dr. Vartikar served as the associate director of the Harvard Medical School Initiative for RNA Medicine. During her tenure, the number of faculty members involved in the initiative nearly doubled and the reach and impact greatly expanded.

Dr. Vartikar began her career as a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral research fellow in cancer biology at the University of Pittsburgh, where she later served as a research scientist. Her research has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, including Nature. She also was a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University where she created a new molecular biology course for premedical students.

In between Dr. Vartikar’s professional accomplishments, she chose to be a stay-at-home mom and was actively involved in both her sons’ extracurricular activities and schools.

First Lady Vartikar and President McCullough have two adult children, Jason (and daughter-in-law Sarah Christian) and Dylan, and two granddaughters, Gladys and Archer.