PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Jill Pipher, professor of mathematics and founding director of Brown University’s Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM), will become Brown’s new vice president for research. She will begin her new role on July 1.
“Jill is an accomplished researcher and a dynamic leader with a deep understanding of Brown’s collaborative approach to scholarship that transcends disciplinary boundaries,” said Brown Provost Richard M. Locke, who announced the appointment to the University’s faculty and staff last fall. “I look forward to working with her to continue to strengthen support for rigorous research at Brown and to maximize the impact of faculty and student discoveries.”
Pipher succeeds David Savitz, who concludes a four-year term in the office and will return to his role as a professor of epidemiology in the Brown University School of Public Health and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Warren Alpert Medical School.
“I’m thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to serve the University in this way,” Pipher said. “I’m looking forward to leading an office that will be responsive to faculty needs and proactive in securing investment in research and scholarship at Brown.”
The Office of the Vice President for Research serves as the University’s primary advocate for research, facilitates grant applications, manages research support and reporting, provides seed funding for promising proposals and coordinates intellectual property efforts including patents, licensing and business startups. Brown’s vice president for research and the research vice president from the University of Rhode Island serve as co-chairs of the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council. R.I. STAC, established in 2005 and sustained by statute of the state’s General Assembly in 2006, assists state leadership in developing programs and policies to build the state’s research and development capacity and to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.
In her role as ICERM director from 2010 to 2016, Pipher was instrumental in securing the institute’s foundational $15.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation. In 2015, NSF awarded the institute a $17.5 million grant renewal. As one of eight NSF mathematics institutes, ICERM brings together some of the world’s best mathematical minds to explore topics in pure and applied math, computer science and related disciplines.
“The work I did at ICERM is somewhat similar to what I’ll be doing as vice president for research,” Pipher said. “I was facilitating the research of others — providing the right infrastructure, assembling staff, identifying strong scientific programs and securing grants. I’ll be doing many of the same things now, but with a much wider focus.”
Pipher says her priorities will include regular visits to Washington, D.C., to meet with funding program officers, legislators and other key figures in the federal funding process. She will also work with the newly hired executive director of corporate relations to expand private sector partnerships that generate new research programs and funding and help to transfer research from the lab to the marketplace.
Pipher also hopes to expand seed funding programs through her office to help to get promising research projects off the ground and make them attractive to external funders.
“You can track the impact of the seed funding support from this office, mapping specific internally funded projects to external grants coming in,” Pipher said. “The payoff is much bigger than the payout. In recent years, there has been an increase in support for those programs from the provost’s office, and I hope to continue to grow them.”
Pipher says she is grateful for the work of Savitz, her predecessor.
“David has done a lot of hard work in building a high-functioning and efficient office,” Pipher said. “The advice and help he’s given to me during this transition have been invaluable.”
The Elisha Benjamin Andrews Professor of Mathematics and a Brown faculty member since 1989, Jill Pipher is the founding director of ICERM, one of eight National Science Foundation mathematics institutes in the nation.
Her primary research interests are in areas of mathematics that have broad applications in the physical and life sciences, including harmonic analysis and partial differential equations. Her joint work in the field of cryptography, with Brown faculty members Jeffrey Hoffstein and Joseph Silverman, led to the development of a patented public key encryption system and a startup company called NTRU Cryptosystems, which was acquired by a major security software company in 2009. The NTRU concept is widely used today and is considered one of only a handful of cryptographic systems resistant to attacks from future quantum computers.
From 2011 to 2013, Pipher served as president of the Association for Women in Mathematics. In 2012, she became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society. She is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship and a Presidential Young Investigator Award. In April 2015, she was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies.
Pipher taught at the University of Chicago prior to her arrival at Brown and holds bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles.