Search begins for new vice president for research

September 01, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State is launching a national search for the position of vice president for research.

Douglas R. Cavener, the Verne M. Willaman Dean of the Eberly College of Science, is chairing the committee.

Neil Sharkey has been serving in an interim capacity. Prior to August 2013, he served as associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Health and Human Development.

“Neil has done a wonderful job of advancing Penn State’s position as a premier global research institution,” said Thomas Poole, vice president for administration. “As was announced when he stepped into the role, and in compliance with University policy, a national search needs to be conducted to fill the position permanently.”

President Eric Barron said, “The vice president will continue Penn State’s long tradition of innovation while exploring new opportunities to focus the University’s broad expertise on not only the issues we collectively face today, but the challenges of tomorrow.”

In each of the last four years, Penn State’s research expenditures have exceeded $800 million with support from a range of federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and private sponsors.

The Office of the Vice President for Research has an operating budget of $52.7 million, overseeing a research enterprise that includes a broad range of units across the University at all campuses.

Penn State is home to six major interdisciplinary research institutes, including the Materials Research Institute, Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Social Science Research Institute, Institute for CyberScience and the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. The University also boasts two defense-related research units: the Applied Research Laboratory and the Electro-Optics Center.

Applications, nominations and inquiries should be emailed to or mailed to Douglas R. Cavener, chair, Search Committee for the Vice President for Research, 201 Old Main, University Park, PA 16802.

The search committee will review applications and nominations beginning on Sept. 11 and will continue until the position is filled. For more information about the Office of the Vice President for Research, go to

Members of the search committee are:

  • Omid Ansary, senior associate dean for academic affairs and professor of electrical engineering, Penn State Harrisburg;
  • Natasha E. Batalha, graduate student in astronomy and astrophysics, Eberly College of Science;
  • Cynthia A. Brewer, department head and E. Willard Miller and Ruby S. Miller Professor of Geography, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences;
  • Douglas Cavener, search committee chair, Verne M. Willaman Dean of the Eberly College of Science;
  • William J. Doan, professor of theatre and women’s studies, College of Arts and Architecture;
  • Chris E. Forest, chair of the senate committee on research and associate professor of climate dynamics, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences;
  • C. Lee Giles, interim associate dean of research, College of Information Sciences and Technology;
  • John W. Hanold, associate vice president for research and director of sponsored programs;
  • Nina G. Jablonski, Evan Pugh Professor of Anthropology, College of the Liberal Arts;
  • Theresa Stellwag Mayer, associate dean for research and innovation, College of Engineering;
  • Susan M. McHale, distinguished professor of human development and family studies and director of the Social Science Research Institute, College of Health and Human Development;
  • Leslie J. Parent, vice dean for research and graduate students and associate vice president for research, College of Medicine;
  • Thomas G. Poole, vice president for administration;
  • Gary A. Thompson, associate dean for research and graduate education, College of Agricultural Sciences;
  • Regina Vasilatos-Younken, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School; and
  • Candice A. Yekel, associate vice president for research and director of the Office for Research Protections.
Last Updated April 21, 2017