VP for Research finalists set for campus visits

Richard Hichwa, Colleen Fitzgerald and Ajay Mahajan will have open forums

Richard Hichwa, Colleen Fitzgerald and Ajay Mahajan, finalists for the position of Vice President for Research and Economic Development/Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, will be on campus this week and next, April 17, 23 and 25, respectively, for open forums.

Three finalists for the position of Vice President for Research and Economic Development/Dean of the School of Graduate Studies will visit campus.

Open forums have been set for the following dates.

  • Richard Hichwa, April 17, 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl
  • Colleen Fitzgerald, April 23, 1:30-2:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl
  • Ajay Mahajan, April 25, 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Education 7 Lecture Bowl

The following biographies were written by the finalists.

Richard Hichwa

Richard Hichwa

Richard Hichwa

Dr. Richard Hichwa is the Senior Associate Vice President for Research at the University of Iowa (UI).  He earned his BS degree in Physics from the University of Notre Dame, his MS in Radiological Sciences and PhD in Medical Physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He held faculty positions at the University of Michigan and is currently Professor of Radiology, Physics and Radiation Oncology at the University of Iowa.

Dr. Hichwa’s research focus is Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Imaging.  He has published extensively on producing radioactive nuclei using particle accelerators, synthesizing radiopharmaceuticals into biologically meaningful molecules, developing miniature radiation detectors, and deriving quantitative information from images of the distribution of the radiotracers in tissues and organ systems specifically to detect brain abnormalities, cardiac defects and tumors for both research and clinical purposes.  He designed and directed PET Centers at the University of Michigan and the University of Iowa.  At the University of Iowa, Dr. Hichwa was instrumental in creating an animal imaging research core, securing numerous high-end imaging infrastructure grants and developing new research facilities for collaborations with industry.  In addition, he assisted groups throughout the United States, Europe and Asia to bring positron emission tomography technologies to the forefront of biomedical research.

In the office of the Vice President for Research he has created a research development team, led the research compliance effort, and oversaw the University of Iowa Research Foundation, UI Research Park, tech transfer office and UI Ventures group dedicated to creating faculty startup companies.  He initiated several incubator spaces within research buildings to rapidly facilitate faculty innovation and a prototyping resource to translate nascent ideas into working models.  He is Co-PI on the NSF iCorps grant for training faculty on commercializing their research and increasing the gender balance of faculty led startup companies.  Dr. Hichwa works closely with the graduate school to support new initiatives and fellowships.  He currently oversees several major research centers and hi-tech cores, including the State of Iowa Public Health Laboratory.  He directs several internal funding initiatives.  As part of his responsibilities he interfaces with the Iowa Economic Development Authority and other statewide organizations for commercializing UI technologies.  He is a member of multiple NIH study sections and often assists federal agencies with developing new grant initiatives.  Dr. Hichwa works closely with faculty in engineering, the sciences, the arts and the humanities to advance their research, scholarship and creative endeavors across the entire enterprise at the University of Iowa.

Colleen Fitzgerald

Colleen Fitzgerald

Colleen Fitzgerald

Dr. Colleen Fitzgerald is currently a Program Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF), on detail from the University of Texas at Arlington, where she holds the rank of tenured Full Professor in the Department of Linguistics and TESOL. Dr. Fitzgerald’s research investigates both the phonology of Native American languages, and language documentation and revitalization, with frequent points of intersection between these themes. Her work has garnered funding from NSF and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and her research projects draw on participatory research methods; service-learning; undergraduate research experiences; and science communication. Her use of these and other approaches has also expanded the base of knowledge on effective educational practices in linguistics and the social sciences, including on increasing participation by underrepresented groups. As Department Chair, Dr. Fitzgerald worked with colleagues to revise graduate curriculum and benchmarks at the master’s and doctoral levels, to adopt best practices in evaluating doctoral student progress, and to secure a new endowment for graduate student research. Dr. Fitzgerald has served on various committees for professional organizations like the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas, the Linguistic Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

At NSF, Dr. Fitzgerald directs the Documenting Endangered Languages partnership, a joint funding initiative between four directorates at NSF and another agency, NEH. While there, she has served on the Communications Team for the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, her home directorate at NSF, as well as making contributions on a number of other fronts, including for programs in the Education and Human Resources Directorate, in both the Division of Graduate Education and the Division of Human Resource Development. Beyond this, she has been an active member of two of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas, a set of forward-thinking, cross-directorate research initiatives to address some of the world’s major challenges.  Her service in this area has made significant contributions to both NSF INCLUDES, a diversity and inclusion initiative, and to Navigating the New Arctic, which cultivates convergent, multidisciplinary teams at the intersection of natural, built and social systems to address Arctic-relevant challenges.

Ajay Mahajan

Ajay Mahajan

Ajay Mahajan

Dr. Ajay Mahajan is a tenured Professor (Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering departments) at the University of Akron. At Akron, he has held positions in the President’s office (Special Assistant to the President for Innovation), the Provost’s office (Associate Vice President for Innovation) and the Engineering Dean’s office (Associate Dean for Research). While at Akron, as part of a team, he has played a small role in bringing over $100M in public/private funds to the region, and help making the university a hub for innovation. In the past he has worked on projects from NASA, US DoD, US Federal Highway, as well as companies such as Timken, Caterpillar and Medtronic. He has also worked with two Formula One race teams (Renault F1 and Toyota F1) in Europe. He has helped start three companies, and guided them through initial capitalization as well as strategic planning/growth, and currently serves on the Board of many organizations/companies. He has developed numerous biomedical devices and overseen cadaver labs for Medtronic while testing their new devices for FDA approval and marketing claims. Four years ago, he served on President Barack Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP2.0) initiative at the White House that has helped focus billions of dollars of funding to provide the US with a competitive edge in advanced manufacturing for the next twenty years. He is the Chair of the Investment Committee for the Akron BioInnovation Fund II (ABFII), a venture fund for the city of Akron. Dr. Mahajan is a firm believer in the Medici Effect, and believes in assembling extraordinary teams, that endeavor to change the world. Many of the above achievements, amongst others, were recognized in a recent book, “The Smartest Places on earth,” in which the author, Antoine Van Agtmael (who coined the term emerging markets) calls out “the remarkable story of how rustbelt cities such as Akron and Albany in the US and Eindhoven in Europe are becoming the likely hotspots of global innovation…”