Mridul Gautam named vice president for research and innovation

WVU associate vice president brings extensive experience, enthusiasm; joins University of Nevada, Reno in October 2013

6/7/2013 - By: Jane Tors
Mridul Gautam

Mridul (pronounced "mer-dul") Gautam has been named vice president for research and innovation for the University of Nevada, Reno. He comes to Nevada from West Virginia University in Morgantown, W. Va., where he serves as associate vice president for research and vice president of the West Virginia University Research Corporation. 

"I am deeply honored to take on this position," said Gautam, who will start with the University on Oct. 1, 2013. "The opportunity that lies ahead is exciting. I see tremendous promise and amazing potential in the University's faculty, in the research system and in the leadership."

"Dr. Gautam is enthusiastic about the opportunity to enhance the University's research enterprise and performance in a way that stimulates wide-reaching interdisciplinary scholarship and collaboration. He has an impressive portfolio of experience working with federal funding agencies and with the private sector," said Kevin Carman, the University's executive vice president and provost. "I am convinced Dr. Gautam will tangibly advance the University's goal of enhancing research opportunities for faculty and students and partnering with industry to support economic development in the Reno area and the state of Nevada. I am impressed by his energy and ideas, and believe his leadership style and emphasis on collaboration will yield substantial dividends."

Gautam joined WVU in 1988 as assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was named a full professor in 1999 and today holds the title of Robert C. Byrd Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.  He was named interim associate vice president for research and economic  development in 2007 and, in 2011, was named associate vice president for research and vice president of the WVU Research Corporation.

During Gautam's tenure in research administration, WVU has achieved increases in research and sponsored project funding. A champion of faculty development, Gautam created programs and workshops to prepare candidates for membership on national committees and candidacy for National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Awards (CAREER awards) and other major multi-institutional and multidisciplinary awards. 

Gautam enhanced resources to support the development of research proposals. He championed and led improvements to advance the university's cyber connectivity, which positioned WVU to participate in significant high-tech research initiatives and helped spawn regional economic development. He managed four centers that reported to the WVU Office of Research: the National Research Center for Coal and Energy, the U.S. China Energy Research Center, the Regional Research Institute at WVU and the Advanced Energy Initiative. Gautam has also been actively involved in outreach to state, federal and private funding agencies. His own total research funding as a principal investigator exceeded $24 million.

"One of the most satisfying components of my career has been successful teamwork, forming teams and building multidisciplinary programs," said Gautam. "At the University of Nevada, I intend to build collaborations across funding agencies and to bring together faculty from across disciplines to solve bigger issues, to take on the bigger challenges facing humanity."  

Regarding the change from the role's previous title of vice president for research, Carman said, "The addition of 'innovation' to the title signals the commitment to support innovation and more strongly integrate research efforts with economic development."

"Universities are about opportunity and the University of Nevada, Reno is ripe for further development of business and industry partnerships," said Gautam. "We will work toward creating an enabling atmosphere on campus where we become a portal, ready to connect industry with the right office or faculty member."

Gautam approached the interview process already aware of many of the University's internationally known researchers, research programs and scholarly endeavors. 

He is passionate about the role of land-grant universities and the many contributions they offer. He said, "I will do my level best to ensure the research enterprise remains fully engaged and focused on the goal of making peoples' lives better in the tradition of the land-grant mission."

The vice president for research and innovation position reports directly to Carman, and Gautam will also work closely with University President Marc Johnson and serve as a member of his President's Council. Gautam will interact closely with the academic deans and with faculty and staff from across campus.

Gautam will take over the role from Marsha Read, who has served in the dual roles of vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School since 2008. Read, who received the University's 2013 Distinguished Service Award, will continue as dean of the Graduate School and looks forward to supporting the transition with Gautam.

"Dr. Read's service has been extraordinary," said Johnson. "Her leadership has helped move the University's research program forward. I appreciate her support through this transition and her continued service to our Graduate School. 

"I look forward to welcoming Dr. Gautam," said Johnson. "He is enthusiastic and passionate about advancing the mission of our University in the region, the nation and the world. I am confident he will lead our research program to next level."

Gautam's degrees in mechanical engineering include a bachelor's from G.B. Pant University in Pantnagar, India, master's from Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi, India, and doctorate from WVU. He has served on a number of statewide and national committees, including current membership on the Mobile Sources Technical Review Subcommittee of the U.S. EPA's Clean Air Act Advisory Committee and on the board of directors for the WV Jobs Investment Trust Board of Directors, TechConnect WV and I-79 Development Council. 

Gautam and his wife Seema have two adult children and look forward to living in Nevada.


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