Melur K. Ramasubramanian Appointed UVA Vice President for Research

Melur K. “Ram” Ramasubramanian has been appointed UVA’s vice president for research, University President Teresa A. Sullivan announced today. Ramasubramanian will assume this position on August 8 and will report to the President. He is currently program director for the Engineering Research Centers program at the National Science Foundation and D.W. Reynolds Distinguished Professor and department chair of Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University, with a joint faculty appointment as professor of bioengineering.

Ramasubramanian will succeed interim vice president for research Philip A. Parrish, who will return to his previous role of associate vice president for research. 

“Ram has accumulated a powerful combination of experiences as a world-class researcher, teacher and administrator,” University President Teresa A. Sullivan said. “He has served as a research university department chair and program director for one of the largest single center-level research funding mechanism at the National Science Foundation. This experience will prove extremely valuable as Ram creates the collaborative and multi-disciplinary framework to further advance UVA’s research productivity.” 

Ramasubramanian’s charge is to shape and direct UVA’s collaborative research and scholarship portfolio with the goal of pinpointing optimal investment opportunities within and among UVA’s 11 Schools to advance the University’s research infrastructure and support services. 

The University receives approximately $338 million in sponsored research and is planning to increase research volume by $200 million over the next 10 years.

Ramasubramanian will play a key role in developing and establishing several pan-University research initiatives. The University established the Data Science Institute and the Brain Institute with plans to launch several more institutes over the next three or four years. These institutes will address key issues and provide valuable educational opportunities, strengthening the University’s capacity to advance knowledge and serve the commonwealth, the nation and the world.

Ramasubramanian will engage the deans and associate deans of research from the University’s Schools, as well as staff in the provost’s office and other areas. He will work with faculty and staff to improve research and laboratory infrastructure across the University, boost research productivity, foster and promote women and historically underrepresented groups to further advance careers in academia, support doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships, incubate new companies, recruit corporate research partners, and bolster staff support for grant writing and administration. 

“Ram brings tremendous energy to the VPR role, as well as the skills of a seasoned researcher and a clear understanding of how research gets funded,” UVA Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas C. Katsouleas said. “Understanding the research spectrum — from generating an idea, to securing funding, to making the research a reality — as deeply as he does will be transformative for the University as it reimagines and redefines how we conduct research.”  

Ramasubramanian said he is excited to become part of UVA and the larger Charlottesville community.

“Joining the University of Virginia is an immense honor,” said Ramasubramanian. “UVA was built on Thomas Jefferson’s burning desire to create and disseminate knowledge for the public good. I look forward to working with University leadership and the Schools across Grounds to enhance the environment for our world-class researchers to make discoveries that will benefit the world as UVA enters its third century.”

UVA Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Dr. Richard P. Shannon is eager to welcome Ramasubramanian to the University community. 

“Over the course of his career, Ram has worked tirelessly to construct large-scale interdisciplinary teams that address society’s greatest issues,” Shannon said. “The search committee was excited to recommend him from a robust candidate pool. Ram is the right person to serve as UVA’s next vice president for research, as we seek to elevate UVA’s research productivity to new heights.”

Dean of the UVA School of Medicine Dr. David S. Wilkes and Dean of the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science Craig H. Benson were involved with the search. Both echoed Shannon’s enthusiasm.

“A key component of UVA’s strategic Cornerstone Plan is to recruit high-potential faculty and support multi-disciplinary hiring strategies,” Wilkes said. “Ram’s vast experience in this area will allow him to hit the ground running as he collaborates with the deans of the Schools to take this work we have started to the next level.”

“Ram has demonstrated consistently his ability to weave a web of interconnected research relationships across the federal, industrial, and institutional environments to the research enterprise,” Benson said. “This understanding of how to work across organizations and sectors will advance our research enterprise and promote scholarly productivity.”  

As Parrish returns to his role as associate vice president for research, he will focus on the advancement of pan-University initiatives and leadership of the ResearchNET team to train and support faculty in identification, selection and preparation of major proposals to sponsors. 

“I am profoundly grateful to Phil for his long-term, steadfast leadership as interim vice president for research,” said President Sullivan. “His impact has been significant. UVA’s sponsored research has grown during a highly competitive period for external funding, and this is at least partly due to Phil’s credibility in the research community and his commitment to seeking out new sources of funding. He has been instrumental in the establishment and growth of our pan-University research institutes, and he has strengthened the relationships among the Schools and the Office of the Vice President for Research, creating new opportunities for cross-Grounds collaboration.” 

Prior to arriving at Clemson, Ramasubramanian was the lead program director for the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program at the National Science Foundation from 2009 to 2012. Before that, he served as a professor at North Carolina State University and research associate for the James River Corporation (now Georgia-Pacific) and Syracuse University. Ramasubramanian’s research interests are rooted in interdisciplinary applications and include mechanics of manufacturing processes and short fiber composites, bio-manufacturing and tissue engineering that include microfluidics, biomimetic materials and systems, mechatronics, and biomedical devices. A sought-after presenter and patent holder, he has been widely published in engineering and biomedical journals.

Ramasubramanian graduated from the National Institute of Technology in Durgapur, India with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a Master of Science in Applied Sciences and Syracuse University with a Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering. He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry and American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society.