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University of North Dakota’s official press release archive.

Askelson appointed to top UND national-security research post

As associate VP for national security research, Askelson will lead UND’s effort to help federal agencies solve national-security problems

Mark Askelson

Mark Askelson, professor of aerospace sciences at UND and a longtime leader and coordinator of multiple research projects on campus, has been named the University’s first associate vice president for national security research.

As such, he will lead one of UND’s strongest and most focused initiatives of recent years: the National Security Initiative, an effort to expand the University’s capacity to secure and carry out national-security-related projects with federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security.

Askelson was hired as the result of a national search, and his appointment is effective immediately. The new position is located in UND’s Division of Research & Economic Development.

The National Security Initiative builds on UND’s proven strengths, and will generate extensive opportunities in research, training, and education for a broad range of University colleges, faculty members and students, said UND President Andy Armacost.

And Askelson’s experience, coupled with his love for collaborative projects that bring together researchers from across different fields, make him the right leader for the job

“Mark Askelson’s selection as UND’s first associate vice president for national security research confirms the University’s dedication and commitment to meeting our nation’s critical security needs through technology innovation and workforce development,” Armacost said.

“With more than 20 years of R&D experience in aerospace, autonomous systems and atmospheric science, Mark has a proven record of building and leading high-performing research teams. He is the ideal person to lead our University’s national security initiatives and build enduring partnerships with the military, industry and universities.”

A new Grand Challenge

John Mihelich, UND’s interim vice president for research and economic development, agreed. “Mark has a strong history of leading research opportunities, building teams for collaborative research and seeing future research possibilities,” Mihelich said.

Moreover, “the National Security Initiative — which also involves a cohort of new faculty researchers hired across three colleges — provides the basis for a new Grand Challenge,” he continued.

“The AVP-NS is a bold new position, one in which Mark will work with others across campus to expand UND research in national security across a range of areas, including autonomous systems, space, health and energy.”

Askelson earned his undergraduate degree at UND and his master’s degree and doctorate in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. He came to UND as an assistant professor in 2001, rose through the faculty ranks and was serving as both the executive director of UND’s Research Institute for Autonomous Systems and associate dean of research for the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the time of his new appointment.

“In America today, there’s a need for innovative solutions to national security problems,” Askelson said. “And these go well beyond problems on the battlefield. There are challenges with supply, technology, health care, policy, and a great number of other areas.”

Meanwhile, UND not only has key strengths in many of those areas, but also a proven ability by its researchers to work together across disciplines to solve problems. “I don’t know if it’s the weather or something in the water up here,” Askelson said with a laugh, “but that collaborative spirit is real.

“So, the National Security Initiative is truly an alignment of our capabilities with opportunities, as well as with our country’s needs. I’m so excited and am very, very grateful to have been given this role.”

Leadership that ‘gets it’

Brad Rundquist, dean of the UND College of Arts & Sciences, took part in the national search that led to Askelson’s selection. “Mark has a proven ability to assemble and lead highly effective interdisciplinary research teams at UND,” Rundquist said. “His familiarity with UND faculty and staff and their areas of expertise is important in his new role, and I look forward to working with him to build UND’s National Security Initiative.”

Robert Kraus, dean of the Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, is another campus leader who was involved in Askelson’s selection. “As a professor and our associate dean of research, Mark has been integral to the success of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences,” Kraus said.

“Additionally, he has been a major factor in the expansion of the UAS research ecosystem at the University and is recognized and respected by colleagues across the industry and academia.

“We look forward to continuing to work with him in this new capacity as we expand our capabilities for space and national security research.”

That kind of support from across the UND campus makes all the difference, Askelson said.

“Plus, we’re so blessed with a leadership team that ‘gets it,’ as well,” he said. “And that includes not only the tremendous leaders we have on campus, but also people in Grand Forks and at Grand Forks Air Force Base, in the chancellor’s office and State Board of Higher Education, at the governor’s office and Legislature in Bismarck, and all the way up to our senators and congressperson in Washington.

“In other words, we have support all the way up and down the line,” he said. “And when you have that – when you have all of these people pushing in the same direction – good things happen.”

High-resolution image:

Mark Askelson, 1 MB

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