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University announces appointment of vice president for Research

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has named Dr. Ramesh Kolluru as its vice president for Research.

His appointment is subject to approval by the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System.

Kolluru has served as interim vice president for the past 18 months.

“He has had many roles at the University over the years and has excelled in all of them,” said Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette’s president.

“Dr. Kolluru has experience working with leaders in the state and national research arena and has developed valuable alliances with businesses and other universities. He thinks strategically and capitalizes on opportunities to advance UL Lafayette.”

Kolluru’s association wth UL Lafayette began 21 years ago, when he was an international graduate student. He began his professional career as a research scientist at the University and has since led three research centers.

The first was the Center for Business and Information Technologies. It won the Governor’s Lantern Award for its impact on economic development. CBIT founded CajunCodeFest, a computer programming competition, and launched the Lafayette Living Lab for Health Innovation.

Along with Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Geoff Stewart of the B. I. Moody III College of Business Administration, Kolluru established the National Incident Management Systems and Advance Technologies Institute, whose public-private partnership models are considered best practices by FEMA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

He also worked with Dr. Vijay Raghavan, a Distinguished Professor at the University’s Center for Advanced Computer Studies, to establish the Center for Visual and Decision Informatics. The Center was created through a partnership with Drexel University and is Louisiana’s first National Science Foundation Center and the nation’s only NSF Center of its kind.

Through collaborations with University faculty and staff, Kolluru has generated over $42 millon in external research and development funding. Those funds have financially supported 172 graduate and undergraduate students through assistantships, as well as summer salaries for 23 faculty members in 16 disciplines.

While interim vice president of Research, Kolluru worked with Louisiana Economic Development, the Louisiana Board of Regents and UL Lafayette leaders to develop a master plan for research. It focuses on five disciplines aligned with the University’s strengths and the state’s economic development and higher education goals:
•  life sciences, health care and wellness;
•  computing, digital media and software;
•  energy and sustainability;
•  coastal ecology and water management; and
•  advanced materials and manufacturing.

Sixteen research centers report to the vice president for Research. Kolluru is also working with the University president and the vice president for administration and finance to establish the Ragin’ Cajun Research and Economic Development Foundation. The new organization’s goal is to make the University’s research enterprise self-sufficient by 2016.

That objective was developed, in part, as a result of a dramatic drop in state financial support. The portion of the University’s budget that’s funded by the state dropped from 60 percent in 2008 to 20 percent in 2013.

As interim vice president of Research, Kolluru led the creation of an innovative public-private partnership among the University’s Marine Survival Training Center; American Pollution Control and the Response Group, which is focused on oil-spill response training; and a partnership between NIMSAT and Acadian/Safety Management Systems, which focused on all-hazards training.

During the past 18 months, he led the search for a new director of UL Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center; revitalized the University’s Energy Institute; established the Institute for Materials Research and Innovation; and strengthened the University’s Institute for Coastal Ecology and Engineering.

The University’s newest vice president has represented the University by serving on statewide, regional and national committees related to research and economic development.

Kolluru also reorganized the Office of Innovation Management, which resulted in a 150 percent increase in patent filings and a 15 percent increase in licensing revenue.

He has reaffirmed the University’s commitment to supporting faculty research in non-STEM disciplines. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

And, he will to continue to develop University Research Park.

Kolluru is an associate professor in the School of Computing and Informatics. “I have taught actively at undergraduate and graduate levels since 1998, and has advised students on their theses and master’s projects, totaling 765 enrolled students at all levels,” he noted in a letter of application for the vice president of Research post.

Kolluru holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Osmania University in India, and a master’s degree and doctorate in computer science from UL Lafayette.