Director of National Science Foundation’s Division of Ocean Sciences Gives Presentation for LSU ORED Vice Chancellor Position
BATON ROUGE – David Conover, director for the Division of Ocean Sciences at the National Science Foundation, or NSF, gave a presentation on Wednesday, March 27, as part of the interview process for the position of vice chancellor in the LSU Office of Research and Economic Development, or ORED. He is the fourth of five candidates to interview for this position.
In his presentation, Conover outlined his strategic vision for research and economic development at LSU, which includes enhancing LSU’s national reputation in research and stressing the relationship between education, research and economic development.
“The vice chancellor of research and economic development needs to be a visible champion for research at LSU,” Conover said. “That person also needs to provide effective administrative services, invest in the wealth of human capital here at LSU, promote economic development and position LSU to be successful. I feel that my combination of experiences gives me a broad background to be successful as vice chancellor.”
One research area Conover stressed the importance of was that of the Gulf of Mexico. He presented a slide that showed up to $4 billion in future funding opportunities for gulf research projects.
“We need to position LSU to receive as much of this funding as possible,” Conover said.
Communication of research at LSU is another aspect Conover said he would stress, if hired. He previously served as co-chair of the steering committee for the multidisciplinary Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in Long Island, N.Y.
“This has been a great opportunity to work with students interested in journalism and in science, and it led to a very unique bachelor’s degree program in science journalism,” he said. “It’s giving tools to scientists to communicate science to the public, and those students who come from a primarily journalism background enough knowledge about science where they can be more effective journalists.”
Conover said that some of the ways LSU can help to promote economic development through research include increasing research funding through federal and state investments, citing Utah and Connecticut as examples of states which have done so.
“By increasing these types of funds, that alone will help to increase economic development,” he said.
In discussing how LSU can promote economic development, Conover suggested focusing on the connection between research and education. This could be done, he said, by realizing the need for increased discovery-based teaching methods and research experiences, making better use of data exploration and discovery in the classroom and expanding career training offerings for graduate students.
Conover also stressed the need to build “a culture of innovation” at LSU by providing training in commercialization, cultivating relationships and maximizing interactions with external partners and investing in the human capital present at the university.
“This is probably the most important thing that universities produce – the workforce of the future,” he said. “Investing in people and making sure that LSU attracts the brightest minds from diverse constituencies is, in the long run, a great way to promote economic development.”
As director of the Division of Ocean Sciences at the National Science Foundation, Conover manages an annual budget exceeding $350 million. He also oversees two major research facility construction projects totaling close to $600 million and represents NSF on a variety of interagency policy committees.
Currently on extended leave, Conover retains the position of Professor of Marine Science in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, where he served as dean from 2003-10. As an expert on the ecology of marine fishes and fisheries sciences, he has authored more than 115 papers, including many in leading journals such as Nature and Science. In 1997, Conover was named the first recipient of the Mote Eminent Scholar Chair in fisheries ecology, a prestigious international award honoring those who have made major advances in the understanding of harvested marine species. He has also been the recipient of an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship. His most recent research involves determination of the long-term evolutionary impacts of size-selective harvest regimes on the productivity of marine fish stock.
Conover joined the faculty at Stony Brook as an assistant professor in 1981. He served as associate dean of marine sciences from 1995-97 and became dean in 2003. Under his leadership, the school greatly expanded its faculty, added two undergraduate majors, more than doubled its enrollment, acquired new waterfront research and education facilities and increased its endowments tenfold. He has served on boards of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the National Association of Marine Laboratories, the Oceans and Atmospheres section of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, and was chairman of the board of the New York Sea Grant Institute. Conover also founded the New York Marine Sciences Consortium, an organization of 26 academic institutions with expertise in marine science research and education.
A native of Homestead, Fla., Conover received his Ph.D. and master’s degree in fisheries biology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1982 and 1979, respectively. He received his bachelor’s degree with honors from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1975.
LSU officials are in the process of conducting a search for the position of vice chancellor for research and economic development. Candidates will participate in a series of interviews with university staff and students, and will also participate in a campus-wide forum to present their thoughts on the future of research and economic development at LSU. The presentations will be followed by open question-and-answer sessions led by the candidates.
K.T. Valasaraj, LSU’s associate vice chancellor for Research & Economic Development, presented at an open forum on Thursday, March 14. For more information about his presentation, please visit www.lsu.edu/ur/ocur/lsunews/MediaCenter/News/2013/03/item59127.html.
Jerry Miller, former assistant director for Ocean Service at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, gave a presentation on Monday, March 18. For more information about his presentation, please visit www.lsu.edu/ur/ocur/lsunews/MediaCenter/News/2013/03/item59188.html.
Kevin Smith, LSU Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, presented at an open forum on Wednesday, March 20. For more information about the presentation, please visit www.lsu.edu/ur/ocur/lsunews/MediaCenter/News/2013/03/item59440.html.
The remaining candidate for the position is Chitra Rajan, associate vice president for research at Iowa State University. Rajan will present at an open forum on Monday, April 8, from 3-4:30 p.m. in Coates Hall Room 143.
The Vice Chancellor for Research & Economic Development serves as the chief research officer for the university, reporting to the executive vice chancellor & provost. This individual will take a leadership role in national and international activities regarding research policy and will guide LSU in defining, prioritizing, and energizing emerging research opportunities. The target start date for this position is July 1, 2013. All faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend the candidate presentations.
For more information regarding the search, including position description, search committee members and candidates’ vitae, please visit www.lsu.edu/faculty_staff/vcsearch.
For more information about the candidates, please visit www.lsu.edu/faculty_staff/vcsearch/candidates.shtml.