NAU selects dean as university’s first VP for research

January 26, 2008

By hammersmith

Compiled from media reports

Northern Arizona University has named Laura Huenneke, the university’s founding dean of the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences, as its first vice president for research. Dr. Huenneke will direct NAU’s efforts to strengthen further its leadership in applied research, undergraduate and master’s-level research, and regional economic development.

“Laura’s background and accomplishments as a scientist and as an academic administrator have prepared her well for this position,” said NAU President John Haeger. “Her knowledge of state initiatives in science, engineering, math, and economic development readies her to advance the role of vice president for Research at NAU.”

As a key NAU administrator, Dr. Huenneke has made crucial contributions in the development of the Northern Arizona Bioscience Roadmap, particularly in terms of regional economic development and bolstering the university’s capacity to draw grant funding to the region, commercialize researchers’ discoveries, and educate future scientists and teachers.

“It’s a tremendously exciting opportunity to help the university expand the scope and impact of its scholarship and research,” Dr. Huenneke said. “I’m eager to see us use our research activity to reinforce our identity as one of the state’s three research universities. The kind of scholarship and research we do really distinguishes us from our sister institutions.”

Previously Regent’s Professor and chair of the biology department at New Mexico State University, Dr. Huenneke arrived at NAU in 2003 as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The next year, when NAU consolidated its 10 colleges into six, she assumed leadership of the new College of Engineering and Natural Sciences.

She has since presided over major building projects for the College, and served as a member of the Research and Graduate Education Task Force at NAU, which made recommendations that led to the creation of the vice president for Research position. She also serves on the board of the Coconino County Sustainable Economic Development Initiative.

Besides her background as an administrator, Dr. Huenneke brings to her new position more than two decades of experience as a plant-systems ecologist specializing in invasive plant species and the impact of human interventions. NAU was recently ranked one of the nation’s top 40 universities in terms of research productivity in conservation biology, an interdisciplinary field that prizes collaborative research.

For more information:

NAU media release