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Koel named interim vice provost for research

Chemistry professor Bruce Koel will become the interim vice provost for research on July 1.

Bruce Koel, professor of chemistry, has been named interim vice provost for research for Lehigh University. Koel will assume the post on July 1, 2007 and will serve as the chief research officer for the university for an expected period of one to two years, according to Lehigh Provost Mohamed S. El-Aasser.

Koel will play a leading role in working with all constituencies to advance the university’s research goals.

"Professor Koel brings to this position leadership abilities and a strong interest in the breadth of research strengths at Lehigh,” says Lehigh President Alice P. Gast. “His experience and ideas for enhancing Lehigh's research environment will be a tremendous asset to the whole community."

Koel has been given the mandate to facilitate research opportunities for faculty and students in all four colleges and to develop, expand, and enhance the research capability, culture and environment at the university. His primary responsibilities will include working with the deans to develop and implement new interdisciplinary research initiatives, providing oversight for externally funded research, and fostering and supporting the university's active research portfolio.

He will be collaborating with the faculty, deans, department chairs, and directors of research centers and institutes to create and support multi-investigator research partnerships, including multi-university and industrial teaming relationships. Given his own track record and passion for research, Koel has demonstrated the ability to work with a broad range of faculty and is enthusiastic to support research programs across the campus, according to El-Aasser.

"A well-deserved international reputation for excellence"

“Professor Koel brings not only an extraordinary record of accomplishment to this role, but also a genuine passion for research,” El-Aasser says. “Over the course of his career, he has earned a well-deserved international reputation for excellence in a variety of fields, and is the ideal person to advance the university’s research goals.”

Koel says that he is looking forward to mining the potential his new role presents.

“Lehigh already has a very well-established reputation for excellence among its faculty, and there are many new faculty members who present great promise,” says Koel. “There is every reason to be excited about the research, scholarship and creative work that goes on here. I’m looking forward to developing even better methods to help the faculty and the institution move forward.”

Koel was recently awarded the 2007 George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry, a national honor of the American Chemical Society (ACS) that recognizes, encourages and stimulates outstanding research achievements in hydrocarbon and petroleum chemistry.

Koel came to Lehigh in 2005 from the University of Southern California, where he taught since 1990. In addition, he has taught at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and was a Miller Fellow at the University of California-Berkeley.

At USC, Koel served as chair of the chemistry department and as an adjunct professor of materials science from 1995-2005. He was also co-founder of the Laboratory for Molecular Robotics, a new interdisciplinary research center at USC, in 1994. Along with his colleagues, he greatly advanced the science and technology of nanomanipulation.

He also initiated and chaired the Gordon Research Conference on Chemical Reactions at Surfaces. He received Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) Guest Researcher Awards from the Osaka National Research Institute in Osaka, Japan in 1999 and 2000, and he was the Professeur Invite´ at the University de Paris-Sud, Orsay, France, in 2001.

His research involves surface chemistry and interfacial processes. At Lehigh, he is specifically addressing the site-directed chemistry and catalysis of bimetallic platinum alloys, catalysis at gold surfaces, kinetics and mechanism of ozonolysis of hydrocarbon films, characterization of novel PEM fuel cell electrodes, development of Rutherford backscattering (RBS) as a novel probe of liquid-solid interfaces, and fabrication of nanostructures by self-assembly and directed manipulation.

He received his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Texas-Austin and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in chemistry from Emporia State University in Kansas.

He has been elected as a Fellow of the American Vacuum Society (AVS), American Physical Society (APS), and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in recognition of his specific contributions in the surface science of catalysis of alloys.

Along with authoring more than 220 publications, Koel has spoken at technical meetings, universities, and laboratories worldwide. Over the course of his academic career, Koel has supervised the research of 44 graduate students, 25 undergraduate students, and 21 postdoctoral researchers, with 24 Ph.D. degrees and six M.S. degrees awarded in four departments (chemistry, physics, materials science and environmental engineering).

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Friday, June 08, 2007

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