Rensselaer Announces New VP for Research

April 6, 2009

Image removed.

Francine Berman

Cyberinfrastructure expert Francine Berman joins the Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced today that Francine Berman, High Performance Computing Endowed Chair at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center, will join Rensselaer as the vice president for research. The appointment is effective August 1.

Berman is widely recognized as a pioneer in the effort to build a stronger digital infrastructure in the United States, known as a cyberinfrastructure, and has been named as a technology leader by Newsweek, BusinessWeek, and IEEE Spectrum.

“Advancement of the research enterprise of Rensselaer is key to the fulfillment of The Rensselaer Plan, which is why I am exceptionally pleased to welcome the extensive experience in research and higher education that Dr. Berman will bring to Rensselaer,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “In her work and research, Dr. Berman has consistently expanded the connections between researchers, across disciplines, and among institutions. At Rensselaer, she will continue to build on the legacy of interdisciplinary research that we have built between research disciplines at all levels of the institution, from undergraduates to endowed faculty, and with our partnerships in government and industry.”

As the vice president for research at Rensselaer, Berman will be responsible for advancing the research enterprise across the full range of academic disciplines and interdisciplinary activities. She will work closely with the president and provost in the development and implementation of policies and practices relating to all aspects of the university’s research mission.

Berman is one of the two founding principal investigators of the National Science Foundation’s TeraGrid project, the largest open scientific research infrastructure connecting supercomputer centers across the nation. She also served as director of the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure, a consortium of 41 research groups and institutions with the goal of building a national infrastructure to support research and education in science and engineering.  

In addition to these leadership roles, she has served on a variety of national and international committees, including the Engineering Advisory Committee of the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences Advisory Committee of the National Institutes of Health, and the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology Board of Trustees. She is currently the co-chair for the international Blue Ribbon Task Force for Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access, whose goal is to develop economically sustainable strategies to preserve our often fragile digital information.

Her research places her at the forefront of information and communication in the increasingly digital age. She has written more than 165 articles, editorials, and reports on her research, which spans the areas of high-performance computing, grid computing, scheduling, programming environments and middleware, cyberinfrastructure, and digital data stewardship and preservation. She is a fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and senior member of the IEEE.

Berman is a native of California, and earned her bachelor’s in mathematics in 1973 from the University of California, Los Angeles. She went on to earn her master’s and doctorate in mathematics from the University of Washington. She began her teaching career at Purdue University in 1979, and joined UCSD in 1984.

Berman will succeed Wolf Von Maltzahn, acting vice president for research, who will return to his position as associate vice president for research. “Under the leadership of Dr. Von Maltzahn, the research infrastructure of Rensselaer has seen substantial growth, and we have developed a research foundation for our three outstanding research platforms: the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations, the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, and the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies,” said President Jackson. “I thank Dr. Von Maltzahn for his dedication and leadership.”

A press release on Berman’s departure from UCSD can be found at

More information on Berman and a downloadable photo can be found at

Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
Phone: (518) 276-6542

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