New EVP of Research Chaouki Abdallah Chats

Photo courtesy of Institute Communications

Chaouki Abdallah, who joined as the new Executive Vice President of Research (EVPR) in September, says Tech has changed a lot since he completed his Ph.D. in E.E. here in 1988.

“The campus is so much nicer, so much nicer, so much more beautiful, and friendlier, you know,” Adballah said, adding that “the breadth of the things that we’re doing right here is mind boggling right now.”

One of the goals Abdallah has set for his first 100 days in office is to talk to as many people across campus as possible. So far, Abdallah has had discussions with several deans, school chairs, and faculty members as well as figures in GTRI and Tech administration. 

“I haven’t yet done it, but I want to talk to students,” Abdallah added.

Currently, Abdallah’s focus is to identify how the office of the EVPR can be optimized in order to best serve the research mission  and reputation of the Institute.

“Everybody is saying: ‘Look. We want to be number one. We want to be on the medal stand,’” Abdallah said, speaking about those who spoke with him during the interview process. “The question is, how do we do this effectively at a time where resources are tight, and we’re trying to decide what to do and what to go into?”

One of the key programs being developed in his office to help manage that process is the Grant Hatchery, which was conceived before Abdallah, but one that he is pushing forward and hiring staff members to implement.

“The Grant Hatchery is the office, the infrastructure, that will lead the application for [up to multi-million dollar grants], that would coordinate the application for such a grant,” Abdallah said.

Thus, the primary investigators can focus on the technical aspects of  proposal process.

Abdallah says that beyond te first 100 days of becoming acquainted with the office, he plans to spend a year and half determining a long term plan to last “10 years, or so on.”

Part of the discussions Abdallah plans to have centers on the continuing role of the Interdisciplinary Research Insitutes (IRIs) that allow Tech to pursue large grants that cut across disciplines.

“If we want to add a new one, we have to come up with funds from someplace or combine some of the IRIs or eliminate some of the IRIs,” Abdallah said. “It’s something that we really need to make sure that we do it right.”