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Office of Research Centers & Institutes

The following Vanderbilt University trans-institutional centers and institutes report directly to the Vice Provost for Research.  However, there are other centers and institutes at Vanderbilt with different governance. Explore a sortable list of all Vanderbilt centers and institutes here. 

Mark Keever
Executive Director

Mark Keever is the executive director of Research IT for Vanderbilt University. Keever comes to Vanderbilt from Oregon State University, where he was the Director of Digital Research Infrastructure, and Co-PI on an NSF cyberinfrastructure datacenter. Prior experience from Georgia Tech contributes to his 20 years of research computing experience.

Mark Keever can be contacted via email at mark.keever@vanderbilt.edu or phone at (615) 343-9247.

Jay Clayton, Ph.D.
Director

Jay Clayton is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor in the Department of English and director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy. Clayton is author or editor of seven books and more than 35 articles and chapters, and he has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and elsewhere. His published scholarship has ranged from Romantic poetry and the Victorian novel to contemporary American literature, film and digital media, science and literature, and medicine, health, and society. His book, Charles Dickens in Cyberspace: The Afterlife of the Nineteenth Century in Postmodern Culture, focused on the depiction of computers, information technology, and cyborgs from the Victorian era to the twenty-first century. This study won the Suzanne M. Glasscock Humanities Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship. His recent work has concentrated on the ethical, social, and cultural issues raised by genomics.

Clayton received his B.A. from Yale University and his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He began his teaching career at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he was the first director of the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and received the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award.  At Vanderbilt, he teaches courses on Victorian literature, digital media, online gaming, genetics in literature and film, and contemporary American literature.  He served as chair of the English department from 2002–2010.

Jay Clayton can be contacted via email at jay.clayton@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 343-8617.

Alexandre Frenette, Ph.D.
Associate Director

Alexandre Frenette is assistant professor of sociology and associate director of The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy. Frenette’s research draws on intersecting interests in arts and culture, work and occupations, and social inequality. Specifically, he uses mixed-methods to study how workers attempt to launch and sustain careers in the precarious economy using the cultural and creative industries as a case study. Drawing on fieldwork in the music industry, Frenette is currently working on a monograph about the challenges and the promise of internships as part of higher education, tentatively titled The Intern Economy (under contract, Princeton University Press). Given the recent rise of credential inflation and youth unemployment, he develops the concept of “provisional labor” to scrutinize the increasingly common, indefinite periods of cheap or unpaid work people must undertake to establish careers. In the process, he uncovers how the normalization of unpaid labor limits diversity and exacerbates socioeconomic inequality in the workplace.

With support from the National Endowment for the Arts,Frenette is also analyzing data on the educational experiences and work lives of over 200,000 arts graduates (broadly speaking, including media, fine arts, and design alumni) to better understand the often-unequal career trajectories of arts graduates (by class, race/ethnicity, gender, and age). In particular, Frenette’s research examines how artists and other cultural workers must increasingly hold multiple jobs, work as independent contractors, and flexibly deploy their talents across sectors.

Alexandre Frenette can be contacted via email at alexandre.frenette@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 343-1381.

Lisa Monteggia, Ph.D.
Director

Lisa Monteggia is a professor of pharmacology and the Barlow Family Director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute. Monteggia studies the neural mechanisms underlying antidepressant efficacy. Her work to identify the proteins in the brain targeted by the drug ketamine has opened the door to new possibilities for the development of drugs that mimic ketamine’s antidepressant benefits without its dangerous side effects (Nature, July 2017). She also studies the role of Methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2), the gene linked to autism spectrum disorder Rett syndrome, on synaptic plasticity and behavior. Her research encompasses molecular, cellular, behavioral and electrophysiological approaches using mouse models.

Monteggia received her bachelor of science in microbiology in 1989 and her master of science in biology in 1991 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned her Ph.D. from the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University in 1999, where her research focused on drug abuse. Monteggia conducted postdoctoral research in molecular psychiatry in the Yale Department of Psychiatry from 1998 to 2000. During her postdoctoral research, she received a National Research Service Award fellowship and a young investigator award from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, or NARSAD.

Monteggia served as research assistant professor at UT Southwestern Medical School beginning in 2000 before joining the faculty as assistant professor in 2002. She was promoted to associate professor in 2009, received the Ginny and John Elich Professorship in Autism Spectrum Disorders in 2010, and was promoted to full professor in the Department of Neuroscience in 2013. She served as thesis mentor for 10 graduate students in the UT Southwestern Neuroscience Graduate Program and as a member of the thesis committee of many more. Her published research has received more than 13,800 citations, and she is a highly sought-after speaker at scientific conferences.

Lisa Monteggia can be contacted via email at lisa.monteggia@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 936-5483.

Andreas Berlind, Ph.D.
Co-Director

Andreas Berlind is associate professor and director of Graduate Studies in Astrophysics and co-director of the Vanderbilt Data Science Institute. Berlind’s research lies in the area of large scale structure formation in the universe, and is mainly focused on understanding the relation between the galaxy and dark matter spatial distributions (also known as the “bias” between galaxies and mass). He approaches this problem from both the observational and the theoretical sides. On the observational side, he works on empirically constraining the bias using measurements of galaxy clustering from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), as well as other galaxy surveys. On the theoretical side, he studies what we can learn about the physics of galaxy formation from these constraints.

Andreas Berlind can be contacted via email at a.berlind@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 343-2184.

For more information on Prof. Berlind’s research, please visit his website.

Doug Schmidt, Ph.D., M.S., M.A., M.A.
Co-Director

Doug Schmidt is the Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering, associate provost for research development and technologies, and co-director of the Vanderbilt Data Science Institute. As associate provost, Schmidt develops cohesive and sustainable information technology (IT) services to advance research and scholarship across Vanderbilt’s ten schools and colleges, including scalable and secure storage, processing, and communication solutions, big data research cores and core-related services, and NIST 800-171 compliant IT services.

Schmidt came to Vanderbilt in 2003 and became associate provost in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research in July 2018. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Schmidt served as program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and co-chaired the Software Design and Productivity Coordinating Group of the U.S. government’s multi-agency Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program. He also served as chief technology officer and Deputy Director for the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a professor at Washington University St. Louis and the University of California Irvine.

Schmidt continues to be an active researcher and educator in Vanderbilt’s Computer Science program, focusing on software-related topics, such as patterns, optimization techniques, and empirical analyses of frameworks and model-driven engineering tools that facilitate the development of mission-critical middleware and mobile cloud computing applications. He has graduated over 40 Ph.D. and M.S. students, as well as published over 10 books and more than 600 technical papers that have been cited over 39,000 times.

Douglas C. Schmidt can be contacted via email at d.schmidt@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 322-3942.

Amanda Harding
Assistant Director

Amanda Harding can be contacted via email at amanda.harding@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 936-8320.

Sharon Weiss, Ph.D.
Director

Sharon Weiss is the Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering, professor of electrical engineering, and the director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Weiss’ research group studies photonics, optoelectronics, nanoscience and technology, plus optical properties of materials, for applications in biosensing, optical communication, drug delivery, nanoscale patterning and pseudocapacitors. She joined the Vanderbilt engineering faculty as an assistant professor in 2005. Weiss has received school’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on young professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Sharon Weiss can be contacted via email at sharon.weiss@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 343-8311.

Jason Valentine, Ph.D.
Deputy Director

Jason Valentine serves as associate professor of mechanical engineeering, associate professor of electrical engineering, and deputy director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Valentine received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 2004 and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley in 2010. In 2010 he joined the faculty in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Vanderbilt University. Valentine's past and current work includes the development of negative index optical metamaterials, optical cloaks, dielectric metamaterials, and hot electron devices. His work was selected by Time Magazine as one of the "Top 10 Scientific Discoveries in 2008". At Vanderbilt he has received an NSF CAREER Award and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award as well as the Chancellor’s Award for Research.

Jason Valentine can be contacted via email at jason.g.valentine@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 875-5508.

Benoit Dawant, Ph.D.
Director

Benoit M. Dawant is the Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering, professor of electrical engineering, professor of biomedical engineering, professor of radiology and radiological sciences, and director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Surgery and Engineering (VISE). Dawant received an M.S.E.E. from the University of Louvain, Leuven, Belgium, in 1983, and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston, Houston, TX, in 1988. Since 1988, he has been on the faculty of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at Vanderbilt University. His main research interests include medical image processing and analysis. Current projects include the development of algorithms and systems to assist in the placement of deep brain stimulators used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders, the placement of cochlear implants used to treat hearing disorders, or the creation of radiation therapy plans for the treatment of cancer. The work of his group in the area of DBS has been featured by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) on its e-advances web site.

Benoit Dawant can be contacted via email at benoit.dawant@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 322-7923.

David A. Owens, Ph.D.
Executive Director

David A. Owens is professor for the practice of management and innovation, faculty director of the VU Accelerator Summer Business Institute, and executive director of the Wond'ry. Owens serves at the Owen Graduate School of Management in the area of management, where he also directs the Executive Development Institute. Specializing in innovation and new product development, he is known as a dynamic speaker and is the recipient of numerous teaching awards. He provides consulting services for a wide range of clients around the world, and his work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, London Guardian and San Jose Mercury News, as well as on NPR's Marketplace. He has done product design work for well-known firms including Daimler Benz, Apple Computer, Dell Computer, Coleman Camping, Corning World Kitchen, Steelcase and IDEO Product Development. He has also served as CEO of a large consumer electronics firm, Griffin Technology.

David A. Owens can be contacted via email at david.owens@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 322-2673.

Kevin Galloway, Ph.D.
Director of Making

Kevin Galloway is the director of making at the Wond'ry and a research assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Vanderbilt University.  Through numerous interdisciplinary projects and collaborations, Galloway has built a multidisciplinary background that has grown to include mechanical design, materials science, advanced manufacturing, bioinspired design, human-centered design, robotics and medical devices.  As director of making, Galloway brings his 'making' expertise to build and lead the school's cross-campus makerspace initiatives and leads a team of student mentors to provide all students, staff and faculty with tools, training and resources to create an innovate.  In his role as a research assistant professor, Galloway's research explores new approaches to the design of robotic systems, including rapid prototyping from the micro- to the macro-scale and the use of active soft materials, as well as the manufacture and control of wearable robotic devices.

Kevin Galloway can be contacted via email at kevin.c.galloway@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 875-8865.

Deanna Meador
Assistant Director

Deanna Meador is the assistant director of the Wond'ry. She joined Vanderbilt in 2009, when she began working with the Peabody Research Institute (PRI), now the Peabody Research Office. During her time at PRI, Meador was the resident innovator and developed a paperless data collection system for collecting assessment and observational data in the field. This system has been features in multiple articles and colloquia, including the Institute of Education Science's showcase entitled, "Using Technology in Research", and is now in use at other universities across the U.S., South Africa, Portugal, Australia, and Sweden.

Meador and her husband became entrepreneurs in 2007 when they founded a mineral makeup business that grew to multiple retail locations in two states that they ran together until it was acquired by another company. She is one of three inventors developing a new edtech platform that will allow early childhood professionals to collect data, compare that data, and receive tailored feedback to improve classroom practices for our youngest students. The classroom practices measured by the tool have been demonstrated to relate to children's academic performance. This work is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Meador can be contacted via email at deanna.n.meador@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 875-8825.

Within Academic Affairs at Vanderbilt University, a center or institute is generally defined as unit of the university engaged in combined aspects of research, scholarship, instruction, outreach or related service. Most commonly, a center or institute will have a substantial research/scholarship component to its mission, and also may have affiliated education programs. Centers and institutes are devoted to focused and sustained work in an identifiable area of interest to faculty, students and staff collectively.

center may be hosted entirely within a single school or college or may be trans-institutional spanning across multiple schools and colleges. While not always the case, an institute is generally defined as an entity that spans across two or more schools or colleges and/or that houses two or more academic centers that have a connected focus and mission.

Find out more about establishing centers and institutes at Vanderbilt.

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