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Seidel named interim vice president for research
Award-winning researcher will continue to lead NCSA during national search

August 15, 2016
Download a photo of Edward Seidel

URBANA, Ill. — H. Edward Seidel, director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2013, has been named interim vice president for research for the University of Illinois System, pending Board of Trustees approval, President Tim Killeen announced Monday.

Seidel, a leading researcher in high-performance computing and relativity and astrophysics, will assume his new role Sept. 1. He succeeds Lawrence B. Schook, who announced in March that he will step down Monday after five years as vice president and return to his research and faculty work at the System’s universities in Urbana-Champaign and Chicago.

Killeen said Seidel’s long career as an administrator and award-winning researcher makes him an ideal choice to lead an office that works with the System’s three universities to help manage their nearly $1 billion per year sponsored-research portfolio and oversee  technology commercialization and economic development activities.

“I have had the opportunity to work with Ed both in his role at NCSA and at the National Science Foundation, where he directed the Office of Cyberinfrastructure and served as assistant director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences,” Killeen said. “Through both experiences, I gained a great appreciation for his broad vision and his ability to build effective interdisciplinary research teams and partnerships.”

Seidel, 58, will retain the title of NCSA director while he holds the interim vice president position and William Gropp will assume the role of acting director pending Board of Trustees approval. Gropp, who joined the Urbana-Champaign faculty in 2007, holds the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in Computer Science and is director of the Parallel Computing Institute in the Coordinated Science Laboratory.

NCSA is a global leader in developing new computing and software technologies by deploying robust, high-performance computing resources in collaboration with researchers around the world. Since arriving at NCSA, Seidel has worked to strengthen its research and economic development portfolio by developing new partnerships with academic units and companies across Illinois and beyond.

“I am honored to be asked by President Killeen to work with the entire University of Illinois System to further enhance its research and economic development portfolio, and to return even more value to the state during the search for a permanent vice president,” Seidel said.

Seidel’s appointment as director three years ago marked a return to NCSA, where he led the center’s numerical group from 1991-96. He also was among the original co-principal investigators for Blue Waters, a federally funded project that brought one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers to Urbana-Champaign.

In addition to leading NCSA, Seidel is a Founder Professor in the Department of Physics and a professor in the Department of Astronomy at Urbana-Champaign.

His previous leadership roles include serving as senior vice president of research and innovation for the MIT Skoltech Initiative at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, directing the Office of Cyberinfrastructure and serving as assistant director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the National Science Foundation, leading the Center for Computation & Technology at Louisiana State University, and leading the numerical relativity group at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert-Einstein-Institut) in Germany.

Seidel is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. His research has earned a number of awards, including the 2006 IEEE Sidney Fernbach Award.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics at the College of William and Mary in 1981, a master’s degree in physics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1983 and a doctorate in relativistic astrophysics at Yale University in 1988.

Seidel will serve during a national search for a permanent vice president. The search will be assisted by an advisory committee chaired by Peter Pfanner, a research professor of urology and director of the Innovation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

Killeen said the current vice president for research position will be restructured to sharpen the System’s focus on promoting research discovery to help drive the state’s economy, and will be titled “vice president for economic development and innovation” to reflect the System’s mission to facilitate progress and economic growth.

He said another search is already underway to fill a restructured vice presidency created after Vice President for Academic Affairs Christophe Pierre announced in June that he will resign later this month to accept a position as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Stevens Institute of Technology.

The new position will be titled “executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs” – retaining current duties as the System’s senior academic officer while also creating a new second-in-command position under Killeen and adding responsibilities as senior operating officer, which will include coordinating planning and budgeting across the System.

An internal search to fill the position was launched last month, assisted by a committee chaired by UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis.       

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The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 80,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.

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