Accomplished physicist Duncan Brown named next vice president for research at Syracuse University

Gretchen Ritter, Vice Chancellor, Provost and Director of Academics, today announced that Duncan Brown, a Charles Brightman Endowed Professor of Physics and accomplished physicist, has been named the next Vice President for Research at Syracuse University. Brown’s appointment, which has been approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, is effective August 15, 2022.

Duncan Brown

“Duncan’s career here at Syracuse University is truly a model of leadership, scholarship, innovation, academic excellence, and mentorship,” says Ritter. “It has all the professional experience and personal qualities necessary to lead research, scholarship and creative enterprise and secure our position as a world-class research university. Duncan is highly respected among his peers, both on campus and at some of the world’s most prestigious institutions. Duncan is uniquely positioned to support Syracuse University faculty scholars in their efforts to seek and obtain external funding that advances their research, scholarship, and creative work.

In his new role, Brown will report directly to Provost Ritter; overseeing $100 million in extramural funding in the natural sciences, engineering, education, social sciences, and law; support and enhance Syracuse’s internationally recognized creative and scientific excellence among artists, architects, directors and writers; and advanced centers and institutes that lead the world in fields such as humanities, aging studies, autonomous systems politics, disability studies, environmental and energy systems, biological and intelligent materials, national security, veterans and military families, and quantum computing. Brown will also lead the Office of Research and its component units, including the Office of Sponsored Programs, Office of Research Integrity and Protections, Office of Technology Transfer, and Office of Undergraduate Research and of Syracuse’s creative commitment (SOURCE). Together, these departments form the backbone of Syracuse University’s research, scholarship, and creative support enterprise.

“The role of the vice president for research is to advance all areas of research, scholarship, and creative work at the University,” says Brown. “We have amazing faculty, staff, and students at Syracuse University, and we attract talented students from around the world who want to further their learning through innovation, creativity, and discovery. Our dynamic intellectual environment across a wide range of disciplines enables us to recruit world-class scholars. I am delighted to help all members of the university community obtain the resources they need to pursue their research, studies and artistic endeavours. Together, we can maintain and grow our Carnegie R1 designation, reach new heights as a leading research university, and change our community and our world for the better.

Brown is widely respected by faculty and staff at the University. He chairs the Senate Research Committee; played a critical role in the Hiring Cluster Review Task Force, established by Provost Ritter last year; and was a leader in establishing the university’s computer research group. He was the faculty representative on the university board (2017-19) and acts as a reviewer of proposals for funding agencies around the world. Brown has been actively involved in national searches for academic leaders. In fact, he was the chair of the search committee appointed to find the next vice president for research.

“We are fortunate to have an internal leader of Duncan’s caliber to take our research business to the next level,” says Ritter. “I look forward to working with him in his new role and have great confidence in his ability to inspire, empower and support our talented scholars.”

Brown earned a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, was a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech, and came to Syracuse University in 2007. He is an internationally recognized leader in astronomy and gravitational wave astrophysics, and has served on integral to the discovery of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). A Fellow of the American Physical Society and Cottrell Fellow of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, he has taught large and small graduate and undergraduate courses, including the popular undergraduate course “Introduction to Astronomy.” , and created a National Science Foundation-funded program that provides pathways for students from underrepresented groups to pursue a Ph.D. in physics at the University. Over the past five years, Brown has co-authored more than 50 publications. He was instrumental in securing more than $15 million in outside funding during his 15-year career at Syracuse.

Ritter thanked Ramesh Raina, professor and former chair of the biology department, for serving as acting vice chair for research since January 2020.

“Ramesh took on the interim leadership role just as the pandemic gripped our nation. He engineered a remarkable recovery of our research business after the pandemic. As a result, this year will be one of the most productive years on record for Syracuse University. This is largely thanks to the vision, operational prowess and careful management of Ramesh Raina,” says Ritter. “In addition, he played a critical role in managing the University’s COVID response strategy. He was a key member of the public health team and was responsible for initiating and maintaining our effective testing program. Internal Oversight I thank him for his leadership and service.

Ritter also credited Raina for increasing the professional development of research faculty and students and for effectively rolling out the CUSE Fellowship, Postdoctoral Fellowship, and Small Equipment Fellowship programs. Raina also led the execution of the faculty hiring strategy for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years. He is Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Major in Biotechnology and a faculty member of the Honors Program at Renée Crown University.

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