Thenkurussi Kesavadas Appointed Vice President for Research and Economic Development

Thenkurussi (Kesh) Kesavadas speaks on campus during the national search for the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 23, 2021) – The University at Albany has named Thenkurussi (Kesh) Kesavadas as vice president for research and economic development, after a national search. He will join the University on Jan. 24, 2022.

Kesavadas currently serves as the founding director of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Health Care Engineering Systems Center (HCESC), the largest endowed center in the University of Illinois system. A professor of industrial and enterprise systems engineering, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and a member of the inaugural faculty of the Carle-Illinois College of Medicine, he was named a distinguished University Presidential Executive Leadership Fellow in 2019.

Kesavadas previously served as a faculty member at the University at Buffalo, where he advanced his research interests in medical robotics, virtual reality/augmented reality in healthcare, manufacturing automation and design of systems.

He received his B.Tech degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Calicut, India, in 1985, his M.Tech degree in aircraft production engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in 1987, and his PhD in industrial engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1995.

“I am very confident that Dr. Kesavadas will provide the strategic vision and leadership necessary to successfully grow the University’s research enterprise and economic development capacity in the years to come,” said President Rodríguez in an email announcement to campus.

“I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the members of the VPRED search committee and its co-chairs, Dr. Jeanette Altarriba, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Erin Bell, professor of environmental health sciences in the School of Public Health, for their service over the past seven months. We are also grateful to the University community for participating in the candidates’ campus visits and providing invaluable feedback.”

Research excellence is one of the five core priorities in UAlbany's strategic plan and uniquely positions the University to leverage its signature strengths in areas such as artificial intelligence, climate science, cybersecurity, emergency preparedness, health sciences, including minority health disparities, and renewable energy to address complex societal challenges.

The new VPRED title explicitly includes a portfolio of economic development, a nod to UAlbany’s increasing focus on accelerating the path of new research discoveries to the commercial market, where they can serve society, create jobs and fuel economic growth. This new focus is embodied by UAlbany’s new $180 million, 246,000-square-foot ETEC research and entrepreneurship complex, which opened this fall.

Kesavadas will be tasked with advancing the University’s research productivity, quality and reputation as a Carnegie R1 research institution, along with expanding its extramural research funding portfolio and spurring economic development and entrepreneurship.

“With new federal research opportunities on the horizon and the state-of-the-art ETEC facility now open, UAlbany is well positioned to grow the size, reach and impact of its already formidable research program,” Kesavadas said. “I look forward to joining UAlbany at such an exciting time."

Kesavadas will succeed Jim Dias, who is the longest-serving vice president for research in UAlbany’s history. Dias has been a dedicated University leader since 2009 and has played a significant role in shaping and building research excellence on campus. Prior to serving as VPR, he was a faculty member in the School of Public Health and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences.