Announcement: Vice President for Research

September 21, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to announce that Vice President for Research David Savitz, who concluded his three-year term on August 31, 2016, has agreed to remain in the position until June 30, 2017. At the conclusion of his term, he plans to return, full-time, to his highly productive research career as professor of epidemiology in the Brown School of Public Health and professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Alpert Medical School. To ensure that strides made under David’s leadership continue without interruption, I am pleased that Jill Pipher, Elisha Benjamin Andrews Professor of Mathematics, has agreed to serve as his successor, and will become vice president for research, effective July 1, 2017. She will work closely with David and the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) in the coming months to promote continuity during the transition.

David Savitz was appointed vice president for research in 2013, and has accomplished important and measurable progress as the University’s chief advocate for research during this period. Most noteworthy is the marked growth in external funding the Brown has experienced in all sectors of the University, including biology and medicine, public health, engineering, and the physical and social sciences. Total new awards to support university-based research increased from $98 million in fiscal year 2013, to $221 million in 2016, despite no major increases in overall federal research funding – the source of most of Brown’s research funding. This, in no small part, is due to improvements made under David’s leadership aimed at promoting a more effective and efficient research support environment. Under his leadership, OVPR has made great strides in becoming more flexible and responsive in developing research initiatives to enable Brown to be competitive in an increasingly challenging environment. In particular, the creation of Research Development -- a team to connect faculty with research funding opportunities and assist them in preparing competitive proposals -- has expanded the University’s ability to identify and pursue larger and more diverse research funding opportunities with great success.

Professor Jill Pipher’s knowledge of Brown and depth of experience as an active and accomplished researcher position her well to continue and build upon these achievements. A member of the Brown community since 1989, Jill’s primary research interests are in areas of mathematics that have broad applications in the physical and life sciences, including harmonic analysis and partial differential equations. Her joint work in the field of cryptography, with Brown faculty members Jeffrey Hoffstein and Joseph Silverman, led to the development of a patented public key encryption system and a startup company called NTRU Cryptosystems, which was acquired by a major security software company in 2009.

Jill was the lead investigator on a National Science Foundation (NSF) $15.5 million grant awarded to Brown in 2010, which established the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM), one of six NSF mathematics institutes with ongoing funding. She became the founding director of ICERM, and recently stepped down following two terms and after securing a successful grant renewal of $17.5 million.

Professor Pipher has earned a number of honors and awards, including serving as president of the Association for Women in Mathematics; a fellow of the American Mathematical Society; and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship and a Presidential Young Investigator Award. She holds bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics from the University of California - Los Angeles.

Reporting directly to the provost, the vice president for research is responsible for developing and implementing a strategic plan for research that enhances overall research capacity, promotes a culture of excellence and productivity, and raises Brown’s research profile nationally and internationally. This entails advancing the University’s research priorities as outlined in Building on Distinction; stewarding incentive and seed funds; and identifying new and existing sources of support for University-based research. The vice president oversees the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR), providing leadership for the Technology Ventures Office and all research support units, and partners with colleagues across campus to advocate for policies and funding to support critical research.

I am grateful to David for his many contributions to Brown over the last three years as vice president for research, and appreciate that this additional year of service will allow us to ensure continuity and continued progress advancing research at Brown. I look forward to working with Jill and David in the coming months to promote a successful transition and ongoing success.


Richard M. Locke