Theresa S. Mayer, a leading nanotechnology researcher and the associate dean for research and innovation in Penn State’s College of Engineering, has been named Virginia Tech’s new vice president for research and innovation.

A distinguished professor of electrical engineering and materials science and engineering at Penn State, Mayer is widely recognized for her research in device nanomanufacturing and served as a site director for the National Science Foundation National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network.

Her appointment, effective Jan. 18, 2016, will enhance Virginia Tech’s entrepreneurial and innovative culture, grow commercialization opportunities, build relationships with corporate and foundation partners, and continue support of the academic research enterprise, officials said.

“I am very excited to welcome Dr. Theresa Mayer to our leadership team,” said Provost Thanassis Rikakis, who led the search to recruit Mayer to Virginia Tech. “She brings a wealth of scholarship, research, and leadership experience that will help us refine our vision for research and innovation and lead us to realize even greater results and impact. Her collaborative, cross-disciplinary approach is a clear strength and aligns well to our goals and approaches to research growth.”

The term “innovation” was added to name of the Office of the Vice President for Research in 2015 to reflect its growing role in experiential learning and its service to Virginia Tech’s integrated community of scholars, innovators, alumni, and economic development partners.

“Dr. Mayer is widely known and respected for the quality of her research and her leadership skills,” said Virginia Tech President Timothy D. Sands. “She is goal-oriented, and able to build relationships and inspire students and faculty across disciplines. Her talent, energy, and vision will play a key role in our efforts to define our 21st century land grant mission and establish the university as a global destination for strategic, transdisciplinary research.”

Mayer, who received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech, will succeed Dennis Dean, a University Distinguished Professor and the director of the Fralin Life Science Institute, who has served as interim vice president for research and innovation since January, 2015.

"I am delighted that Dr. Mayer will be the Vice President for Research and Innovation,” said Dean, who will continue his service as director of the Fralin Life Science Institute. “Given her outstanding accomplishments and her deep knowledge of research administration, she is the right person at the right time to lead the Virginia Tech research and innovation enterprise. The energy and experience she brings to Virginia Tech are an excellent match for the bold vision outlined by President Sands. The entire research division is excited about having Dr. Mayer lead.”

Research and development expenditures at Virginia Tech have grown annually for more than 15 years, climbing to $513.1 million in fiscal year 2014. The university is the top academic research center in Virginia in National Science Foundation-reported research expenditures.

Ranked No. 39 by the NSF in fiscal year 2014, Virginia Tech is the only university in the commonwealth among the national top 50 research schools.

“This is an exciting time to be at Virginia Tech,” Mayer said. “Investments in exceptional people and state-of-the-art infrastructure have led to impressive growth in the university’s research enterprise over the last 15 years. The community is clearly energized and ready to take the next steps to define Virginia Tech as a premier land-grant institution that delivers innovative solutions to global challenges of the 21st century and serves as a catalyst for economic development. With strong institutional and faculty support to create comprehensive transdisciplinary research programs and build mutually beneficial partnerships and networks, Virginia Tech is well-positioned to lead breakthrough change.”

Mayer will be a tenured professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

She is joining Virginia Tech as the university engages in a one-year process called “Beyond Boundaries,” which will inform Virginia Tech’s long-range future by envisioning the university in 2047 -- its 175th anniversary.

At Penn State, Mayer provided strategic leadership, development, and coordination of research initiatives, technology transition, and industry and global collaborations in the College of Engineering.

She was a Penn State faculty member for more than 20 years, serving as a Distinguished Professor in electrical engineering and materials science and engineering. She has published more than 200 refereed articles and proceedings and holds nine patents. Two companies have licensed the technologies.

She also served as the associate director of the Penn State Materials Research Institute, and the director of the Penn State Nanofabrication Laboratory.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech, she holds a master's degree and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, both from Purdue University.

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