UF recruits 36 faculty in first round of preeminence hiring

June 6, 2014

Spreadsheet Showing Hires

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- The University of Florida has recruited more than three dozen distinguished faculty members from around the world as the first round of hires in the university’s “Preeminence Plan” to rise among the nation’s top public universities.

The 37 faculty are accomplished scientists and scholars who come from a wide variety of public and private universities and institutes, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel HillJohns Hopkins University and Utrecht University in the Netherlands.  They were chosen following an extensive selection process built around 26 UF research initiatives – and drawing on the participation of current faculty, college administrators and senior university leadership.

“We worked deliberatively and collaboratively to identify the areas where bringing in a high level of talent would lay the groundwork for the breakthrough science and scholarship we want to achieve under the Preeminence Plan,” UF President Bernie Machen said. “I am thrilled with the quality of researchers and scholars who will be arriving in Gainesville, and I have every confidence they will have a profoundly positive impact on the university and on the state of Florida.”

Machen announced the hires at the UF Board of Trustees meeting Friday.

The new faculty – the first of an estimated 120 to be recruited under the Preeminence Plan this year and in 2015 – hail from public and private universities, including the Georgia Institute of TechnologyPurdue University, the University of Arizona, the University of Pennsylvania and Clemson University. They include senior faculty who are already distinguished in their fields as well as midcareer researchers whose work is viewed as especially promising.

Their expertise is highly diverse, reflecting the Preeminence Plan’s focus on launching or accelerating the 26 research initiatives. These initiatives range from developing new techniques for online learning to furthering neuroscience to advancing scholarship on Latin America.

Several of the new faculty are experts in applying the fast-emerging science of Big Data to their specialty areas in engineering, medicine, biology and other fields.  These professors will help shape UF initiatives ranging from the modeling of disease outbreaks to the analysis of social networks.

Other new faculty will contribute to advancements in corporate law, biomedical engineering and renewable energy. All told, the new faculty will join 13 of UF’s 16 colleges, as well as the Florida Museum of Natural History.

“We have already added exciting new faculty members to help drive two-thirds of our preeminence research initiatives. We know these faculty will also stimulate increased interaction with colleagues and students across the entire university,” Machen said. “When these new faculty settle in and join the accomplished faculty already here, I think we’ll see something truly phenomenal start to happen.”

Several of the preeminence hires said they saw UF as the most promising institution for developing innovation in their fields.

“I was impressed with the University of Florida, and the museum, and especially its forward and innovative thinking related to science and technology development,” said Rob Guralnick, who is leaving the University of Colorado at Boulder to join the Florida Museum of Natural History.

At UF, Guralnick’s efforts will include work on the museum’s National Science Foundation-funded “iDigBio” project to digitize and analyze the millions of biological specimens held in museums.

Greg Glass will come to UF from Johns Hopkins, where he is a professor of microbiology and immunology.  At UF, he will seek to further research related to the mathematical modeling of disease outbreaks.

“The university is one of the only places in this country that has enough collaborating scientists, physicians and researchers who can begin to pull together all the aspects of biology, health, informatics and technology to solve the problem and take us to the next level in preventative health care,” Glass said.

UF began working on the Preeminence Plan last summer after the Florida Legislature directed $20 million for five years annually to UF in support of its effort to rise among the nation’s top public universities.  The university will match the state’s contribution, with a total of $150 million devoted to hiring new faculty. The UF Foundation is augmenting the effort with an $800 million campaign that will fund more than 100 faculty endowments, provide needed financial support to faculty and graduate students, and fund new and upgraded research facilities.