Dennis Dean, director of the Fralin Life Science Institute, will serve as interim vice president for research at Virginia Tech, effective Feb. 1.  

Robert W. Walters, vice president for research, had announced his retirement effective Sept. 1, but has requested to step down earlier to pursue research opportunities, according to Provost Mark McNamee.

An international search is under way and a permanent vice president for research will be named this summer.

Until then, Dean will lead the Office of the Vice President for Research with a focus on continued growth, collaboration, and strategic initiatives. He will also continue as director of the Fralin Life Science Institute.

With more than $496 million in research and development activity for fiscal year 2013, Virginia Tech is the No. 1 academic research institution in Virginia, according to National Science Foundation rankings. 

“I am very pleased that Dennis has agreed to lead the research division during this important time of transition,” McNamee said.  “He has a demonstrated record of internationally renowned research and scholarship and he has been an effective leader in multiple roles. I have every confidence that the division will continue on its positive course in the coming months, and ultimately make a smooth transition to the next vice president.”

Dean joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1985, directed the Fralin Biotechnology Center for seven years, and led the transformation of the center into the Fralin Life Science Institute. From 2008 to 2009, he served as acting director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

From 2012 to 2014, in addition to leading the Fralin Life Science Institute, he served as interim executive director of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. A University Distinguished Professor and the Stroobants Professor of Biotechnology, he is involved in both undergraduate and graduate instruction.

Dean’s research is recognized worldwide. He has published more than 160 articles and has received extramural funding to support his research since 1975, including awards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and Office of Naval Research.

Dean is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology for his contributions to microbiology and bioinorganic chemistry.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.


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