Eric D. Isaacs named Executive Vice President for Research, Innovation, and National Laboratories

In recognition of the University of Chicago’s growing initiatives in large-scale science, engineering, computing, and numerous areas of technological and business innovation, the University is revising its leadership structure to include a new position of Executive Vice President for Research, Innovation and National Laboratories. Provost Eric D. Isaacs has been named to this role, effective July 1.

The new role will replace and build upon the responsibilities of the Vice President for Research and for National Laboratories, currently held by Donald H. Levy, who is retiring from the position at the end of the academic year, having completed two five-year terms in the role.

In his new position, Isaacs will be charged with integrating and overseeing numerous important endeavors in science and innovation that cut across divisions, schools and institutes, along with those initiatives’ connections to policy and industry. He will provide direct oversight of Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab, the Marine Biological Laboratory and the University’s founding-partner relationship with the Giant Magellan Telescope project. He will also play a leading role in the University’s efforts in computation, data science and innovation in Hyde Park, including the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Chicago Innovation Exchange.

“Eric has deep experience, broad knowledge and a record of strong leadership in public engagement, and I am grateful that he is taking on this new challenge, which is an essential one for the University,” said President Robert J. Zimmer. “His particular set of experiences make him singularly well positioned to lead this rapidly evolving set of activities.”

Isaacs, the Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor in Physics, served as director of Argonne before becoming provost in 2014. A condensed matter physicist whose work focuses on quantum materials, Isaacs joined the University and Argonne in 2003 as the founding director of the Center for Nanoscale Materials, after working for 15 years at Bell Laboratories. He said the University and its affiliated labs have an unusual opportunity to provide international leadership in a range of complex scientific activities, while fostering the development of related innovative businesses in Hyde Park and the Chicago region.

“This is an exciting time for the University in science, applied science and engineering. It is also an opportune moment to develop and foster a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship across the sciences,” Isaacs said. “I look forward to this expanded office being an advocate for and a point of entry into University collaborations with partners across campus and in industry.”

With Isaacs’ move to the new role, Zimmer said he will be seeking input and nominations from faculty to guide his selection of a new provost.

Zimmer thanked Levy for his leadership and for agreeing to serve for the next year as Senior Adviser to the President, focusing on planning for the University’s scientific infrastructure needs. Levy, the Albert A. Michelson Distinguished Service Professor in Chemistry, was appointed as Vice President for Research and for National Laboratories in 2007. He joined the UChicago faculty in 1967 and has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, among many other awards and honors.

“Don has been instrumental in guiding great changes in science and technology, research and computation, innovation, and in the research programs at both Argonne and Fermilab,” said Zimmer. “I am very grateful to him for his dedicated and skilled leadership in an exceedingly complex area of administration.”

“I am honored to have played a role in furthering research and innovation at the University of Chicago, my academic home for almost 50 years,” said Levy. “I’m also very pleased to have had the opportunity to work with so many talented and dedicated individuals from all three institutions during my tenure as Vice President for Research and for National Laboratories.”