Daniel Sui, an internationally renowned researcher in the area of GIS-based spatial analysis and modeling for urban, environmental, and public health applications, has been appointed Virginia Tech’s vice president for research and innovation, effective Nov. 1, 2020.

“Following a nationwide search, I am delighted that Dr. Sui will join the Virginia Tech team to lead our research enterprise,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke. “His scholarly accomplishments, prior experience in university-level research administration, and understanding of the wide range of research and creative activities represented at land-grant universities will enable him to provide critical leadership and oversight to Virginia Tech’s research programs. His vision and leadership will further enhance the university’s entrepreneurial and innovative culture and commercialization opportunities, in addition to building relationships with industry partners and funding agencies.”

A Distinguished Professor of Geography, Sui currently serves as the University of Arkansas’ vice chancellor for research and innovation. During his tenure, Sui grew research expenditures to a new historical high of $180 million, which directly contributes to the university’s $2.2 billion economic impact for the state of Arkansas.

“I am delighted that Dr. Sui will join our leadership team this fall,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “Dan is an exceptional researcher, educator, and academic leader with a focus on today’s emerging global challenges and opportunities. I look forward to working with him to expand the impact of our research and elevate Virginia Tech’s standing as a top U.S. land-grant research institution. I also want to express my deep appreciation to Don Taylor for his excellent work as interim vice president”

Sui will succeed G. Don Taylor, Virginia Tech’s executive vice provost, who has served in the interim capacity since July 2019. Under Taylor’s leadership and over the past year, the research enterprise maintained momentum, laying the groundwork for future university-wide research and innovation success. Notably, research expenditures reflect upward progress, in addition to an increase in sponsored awards by 15 percent.

“I am grateful to Don for his leadership and dedication in serving as interim vice president. His support of the research community has been critical during this period of transition for the Office of Research and Innovation and has positioned Virginia Tech to accelerate future growth and global impact,” Clarke said.

In his role, Sui will directly report to Clarke and will be responsible for supporting and growing Virginia Tech’s research portfolio that includes extramural funding. He will also chair two boards for Virginia Tech affiliated corporations: Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties and Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation.

"I am absolutely thrilled that we were able to attract such a leading scholar and distinguished academic leader for the vice president for research and innovation position," said Taylor. “Dr. Sui has the motivation, talent, skills, and experience to raise our research and innovation enterprise to completely new levels of excellence. With an outstanding team of professionals supporting him in the Office of Research and Innovation, Dr. Sui will be supported to achieve new heights.”

Virginia Tech is currently ranked in the top 5 percent of universities in the nation for research expenditures and No. 48 with approximately $532 million in research expenditures by the National Science Foundation.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation encompasses 500 employees across research administration and supports strategic research investments and all university researchers. Administratively, Sui will work to ensure research is conducted ethically and responsibly, and he oversee all sponsored research funding for research, service, and education. The vice president also oversees all of the university’s thematic institutes and affiliated corporations that execute more than a quarter of the university’s sponsored research. The institutes support research of faculty across all of the university’s colleges by providing seed funding, space, and unique facilities.

In his current role as chief research and innovation officer for the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the flagship campus within the University of Arkansas System, Sui has been responsible for developing and implementing the university’s strategic plan for research and innovation, scholarship, and creative activities, including launching the University of Arkansas’ signature research areas and played an integral role in securing almost $200 million in funding for the 13R Initiative. He led campus efforts to ensure the integrity and quality of research-related activities; retained the status of “highest research activity” in Carnegie classifications; and served as the spokesperson for research, scholarship, and creative activities, all while promoting and articulating the importance and the impact of the full disciplinary range of these activities to the nation, the state, and the region. Sui was responsible for the integration of his area with graduate and undergraduate education and facilitated the preparation and articulation of campus-wide research priorities for federal support to congressional representatives and government agencies.

Michael Friedlander, executive director of Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and vice president for health sciences and technology, who chaired the search committee, said, “Dr. Sui is a great match for this research leadership position at Virginia Tech at this time in our university’s history. He has a high-level vision of where opportunities for innovation exist, coupled with an understanding of the operational support needs of researchers. His experience — both in growing and managing a diverse university research enterprise — and in leadership at a federal agency uniquely position him for this opportunity. He’s got the right stuff and the interpersonal skills to help to take Virginia Tech to an even higher level of research success.”

Sui is an established researcher and invited public speaker who has been published in more than 230 scholarly publications covering various interdisciplinary topics and delivered approximately 70 keynote speeches, endowed, or invited guest lectures over the past five years.

Prior to his current role, Sui served as the division director of Social and Economic Sciences for the National Science Foundation. During his time with the funding agency, Sui was instrumental with initiatives “Harnessing the Data Revolution” and “The Future of Work at the Human-technology Frontier” and worked to develop a stronger public-private partnership for social and economic sciences research.

Sui also served as chair of the Department of Geography at the Ohio State University. During his time at Ohio State, he directed the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis and the Geographic Analysis Core unit of the Institute of Population Research. Sui also held distinguished professorships with appointments in the departments of Arts and Sciences and Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Prior, Sui was the assistant vice president for research at Texas A&M University from 2004-09 and was the Reta A. Haynes Endowed Chair of Geosciences in the College of Geosciences, with a joint appointment in the School of Public Health. 

Sui was a Guggenheim Fellow, a Woodrow Wilson Center Fellow, and the recipient of an American Association of Geographers Distinguished Scholar Award.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in geography and a Master of Science in remote sensing and geographic information systems; both from Peking University in Beijing, China. Sui also received his doctorate in geography from the University of Georgia.