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Trans-Institutional Centers & Institutes

Paul Sheldon, Ph.D.
Director

Paul D. Sheldon has been a Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Vanderbilt since 2005, and has been at Vanderbilt since 1991. His primary research interest is in elementary particle physics, which seeks to understand the fundamental mysteries of the universe. As a member of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) collaboration at the LHC, Sheldon intends to exploit the rich particle physics program at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) over the next 10 years.

Motivated by the huge demands for high performance computing and networking in particle physics, Prof. Sheldon has become involved in the development of resources and tools to support large, long-distance scientific data flows and grid computation. He is director and co-founder (in 2004) of the Vanderbilt University Advanced Computing Center for Research and Education (ACCRE), a campus-wide research computing facility enabling new and exciting opportunities at the cutting-edge of academic inquiry. Since its inception, 600 researchers from over 30 departments and five schools have used ACCRE resources. Additionally, Sheldon is or has been the principle investigator or co-principal investigator on several NSF funded networking and computation projects.

Prof. Sheldon can be contacted via email at paul.sheldon@vanderbilt.edu or phone at (615) 343-0484.

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

Will French, Ph.D.
Director of Research Computing Operations

Will French is the Director of Research Computing Operations at Vanderbilt University’s Advanced Computing Center for Research and Education (ACCRE). He obtained his PhD in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Vanderbilt under the advisement of Peter Cummings and teaches a semester-long course (SC 3260/5260) each semester in high-performance computing. French’s background is in molecular modeling and computational chemistry and his research interests revolve around computational methods that enable better and more realistic types of analysis, modeling, and simulation of scientific problems.  He is also interested in applying and developing high-level HPC APIs (e.g. in Python and Matlab) that allow researchers to take advantage of many-core processors with minimal programming effort and enjoys working with research groups to help them accelerate their research pipelines through the ACCRE environment.

Will French can be contacted via email at will@accre.vanderbilt.edu or phone at (615) 343-4134.

Jeffrey Schall, Ph.D.
Director

Jeffrey Schall is the E. Bronson Ingram Professor of Neuroscience, Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Director of the Center for Integrative & Cognitive Neuroscience, and Director of Vision Training Program in Vanderbilt University’s Department of Psychological Sciences.

Schall’s research is addressing questions like these: How does the brain decide where to look? How does the brain control whether and when to produce a movement? How does the brain know when it makes a mistake? These questions are answered by monitoring neural signals in cortical and subcortical regions in macaque monkeys performing visual search and countermanding tasks. To relate the cognitive neurophysiological findings to human perception and performance, Schall collaborates with other faculty in the Department of Psychology. A collaboration with Geoff Woodman is characterizing cognitive event-related potentials and elucidating how they arise. A collaboration with Gordon Logan and Tom Palmeri is formulating and testing models that explain how neural signals accomplish the computations producing the task performance. A collaboration with Sohee Park and other colleagues is exploring how the disorders of task performance by patients with schizophrenia or Parkinson’s disease can be understood in relation to the cognitive neurophysiology and modeling findings.

Jeffrey Schall can be contacted via email at jeffrey.d.schall@vanderbilt.edu or phone at (615) 322-0868.

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

Derek Griffith, Ph.D.
Director

Derek M. Griffith is a Professor of Medicine, Health & Society and Director and Director of Vanderbilt’s Center for Research on Men’s Health. Prof. Griffith is a leading social scientist focused on social influences on men’s health and racial and ethnic health disparities.  He primarily focuses on identifying and addressing psychosocial, cultural and environmental determinants of African American men’s health and well-being.  Funded by several institutes within the National Institutes of Health and foundations such as the American Cancer Society and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Dr. Griffith specializes in informing, developing and testing interventions to improve African American men’s lifestyle behaviors and chronic disease risk, morbidity and mortality, including reducing obesity and increasing healthy eating, physical activity and screening, often using a community-based participatory research approach.  His research has been featured in such news outlets as MSNNPRTime MagazineUS News & World Report and USA Today.

Derek Griffith can be contacted via email at derek.griffith@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 322-0648.

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

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. Prof. 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.

Jay 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, Prof. 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, Prof. 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 Professor of Pharmacology and 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. Prof. 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 int he 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 and phone at (615) 322-3942.

George Hornberger, Ph.D.
Director

George M. Hornberger is Distinguished University Professor at Vanderbilt University, where he is the Director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and the Environment. He has a shared appointment as the Craig E. Philip Professor of Engineering and as Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences there. He previously was a professor at the University of Virginia for many years where he held the Ernest H. Ern Chair of Environmental Sciences. He also has been a visiting scholar at the Australian National University, Lancaster University, Stanford University, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the University of Colorado, and the University of California at Berkeley.

His research is aimed at understanding complex water-energy-climate interrelationships and at how hydrological processes affect the transport of dissolved and suspended constituents through catchments and aquifers. He is an ISI “Highly Cited Researcher” in environmental sciences and engineering, a recognition given to the top 250 individual researchers in each of 21 subject categories. Hornberger is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a fellow of the Geological Society of America, and a fellow of the Association for Women in Science. He was President of the Hydrology Section of AGU from 2006-2008. He has served on numerous boards and committees of the National Academies, including as chair of the Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources (1996-2000) and chair of the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources (2003-2009). He currently chairs the National Academies’ Water Science and Technology Board. He also currently chairs the Geosciences Policy Committee of the American Geosciences Institute and the Special Scientific Committee on Unconventional Oil and Gas Development of the Health Effects Institute. He is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Geosciences Directorate at the National Science Foundation and of the Geoscience Public Policy Committee of the Geological Society of America.

Professor Hornberger won the Robert E. Horton Award (Hydrology Section) from the AGU in 1993. In 1995, he received the John Wesley Powell Award from the USGS. In 1999, he was presented with the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award by the AGU and in 2007 he was selected Virginia Outstanding Scientist. Professor Hornberger is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, having been elected in 1996.

George Hornberger can be contacted via email at george.m.hornberger@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 323-1144.

 

David Hess, Ph.D.
Associate Director

David J. Hess is a professor in the Sociology Department at Vanderbilt University, Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment, Director of Environmental and Sustainability Studies, and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Sociology Department. His research and teaching is on the sociology, anthropology, and policy studies of science, technology, health, and the environment. He is the recipient of the Robert K. Merton Prize, the Diana Forsythe Prize, the Star-Nelkin Prize (shared with coauthors), the William H. Wiley Distinguished Faculty Award, and the General Anthropology Division Prize for Exemplary Cross-Field Scholarship. He has been a Fulbright scholar and the PI and Co-PI on grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and FIPSE.

Most of Prof. Hess’ research falls under the broad category of the sociology and anthropology of science, technology, health, and the environment. He is especially interested in the public understanding of science and technology and the role of “mobilized publics,” which can include scientists, advocacy organizations, reformist businesses, and social movements. The other main area of research is on the politics of transition to a more sustainable economy and society and the factors that lead to the stasis or change in transition policies.  In this area of work Hess studies how industries accept or resist green transition policies and the political coalitions that have mobilized in support of and in opposition to the transitions.

David Hess can be contacted via email at david.j.hess@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 322-8539.

Sandy Rosenthal, Ph.D.
Director

Sandy Rosenthal is the Jack and Pamela Egan Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Professor of Pharmacology, and Director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE).

Rosenthal studies semiconducting nanocrystals, a novel material whose optical properties and electronic structure can be precisely tuned by controlling the size of the nanocrystal. The Rosenthal Groups is specifically interested in two applications exploiting the properties of nanocrystals: the use of nanocrystals as the light harvesting element in photovolatic devices and the use of fluorescent nanocrystals as biological probes for membrane proteins involved in neuronal signaling. They have also recently begun a program to explore the possible use of nanocrystals as a white light emitter for implementation in solid state lighting.

Sandy Rosenthal can be contacted via email at sandra.j.rosenthal@vanderbilt.edu or by phone at (615) 322-2633.

Sharon Weiss, Ph.D.
Deputy Director

Sharon Weiss is the Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering, Professor of Electrical Engineering, and Deputy Director of 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. Prof. 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.

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 with 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.

All of these 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.

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.

See a list of current Vanderbilt centers and institutes.

Find out more about establishing centers and institutes at Vanderbilt.