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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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New vice president for research looks to find opportunities for growth

Photo by Courtesy

Starting in mid-February, current University of Michigan Energy Institute director Mark Barteau will become A&M’s Vice President of Research.

Mark Barteau, professor of chemical engineering from the University of Michigan, will find a home in Aggieland this semester, beginning his new roles as professor and vice president for research at Texas A&M in mid-February.
Barteau grew up in St. Louis and attended Washington University in St. Louis for his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering. He then went on to get his master’s and Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Stanford, followed by his post-doc in Munich, Germany in a technical university.
He then joined the faculty in chemical engineering at the University of Delaware in 1982 and held a number of positions there before he went to the University of Michigan in 2012 to be the director of the energy institute and a faculty member in chemical engineering.
Barteau’s personal research focuses on the production processes of chemicals and fuels.
“My own research is at the boundary of chemistry and chemical engineering, looking at the boundaries of surfaces particularly relevant to catalysis for producing chemicals and fuels,” Barteau said.
Barteau has historically worked with national agencies such as the Department of Energy, the US Air Force and NASA — groups that often work with universities.
“A significant fraction of the universities research is funded by federal government and agencies like that,” Barteau said.
He said these experiences he had while working for these agencies were very useful in a number of ways because it helped him gain the knowledge of working within a governmental system.
“Experience in actually carrying out research funded by those agencies, working with program directors, and then working on various advisory and oversight committees, particularly the Department of Energy in my case, I think is very useful,” Barteau said. “The more you know how things work in Washington [D.C.], the more effective you can be in a role like mine.”
Barteau is currently serving as the director of the University of Michigan Energy Institute and is the inaugural DTE Energy Professor of Advanced Energy Research, an endowed chair. He said that one of the aspects he has tried to build in these positions is the connections between departmental studies.
“One of the things I’ve done is really try to build the connections to the social sciences in policy and economics,” Barteau said.
Carol Fierke, A&M’s provost and executive vice president, worked with Barteau as a member of the University of Michigan in the institute where Fierke explored the use of enzymes in preparing biofuels. At the time that Fierke was also the department chair of chemistry, Barteau had a complementary appointment in the department.
“Dr. Barteau is a world-class scientist, researcher, inventor and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. I am very pleased that Dr. Barteau is joining the leadership of Texas A&M University to further our research agenda. He brings enormous experience in energy research, a reputation for collaborating across disciplines and proven success in developing a strategic vision to enhance discovery and innovation,” Fierke said in an email statement.
In addition to his current roles, Barteau also serves on the science advisory board for the National Institute of Clean and Low Carbon Energy in Beijing and in three different activities within the National Academies of Sciences.
These include serving on the board on chemical sciences and technology as well as serving on two committees that are writing reports to develop a research agenda for carbon dioxide removal and reliable sequestration, as well as one on the utilization of waste carbon.
“I think part of my job as the vice president for research will be to figure out how enhance faculty success and how to build on the pillars of strength that already exist, to create new programs and new opportunities,” Barteau said. “And I think there are a lot of those at A&M, not just sort of in the energy space which is an area I’ve sort of concentrated in, but also in the life and health sciences … I think there are a lot of opportunities there.”
Barteau will begin his transition with the help of the interim Vice President for Research Karen Butler-Purry. According to a statement from Butler-Purry, during this interim period she launched the T3: Texas A&M Triads for Transformation, a multidisciplinary seed-grant program that is part of the President’s Excellence Fund. This program will enable interdisciplinary teams to develop long-term research and scholarship collaborations.
“When Dr. Barteau assumes the role of vice president for research, I will act as special advisor to the vice president and help facilitate his transition into his new role. Dr. Barteau is a highly experienced researcher and administrator, and we are looking forward to his vision and leadership in furthering the impact of the research enterprise at Texas A&M University,” Butler-Purry said in an emailed statement.
In regards to his transition, Barteau said his overall goal is to continue to grow the funding and support for A&M’s research programs.
“I think the important thing is to do things that have significant impact and thereby contribute to the reputation and the strength of the university,” Barteau said. “Some of that is helping strong programs to grow, some of it is building new programs, and some of it is again figuring out where there are opportunities to bridge some of the pillars of strength and create new things, and especially to put our own stamp on those because of the particular strengths we are building on the university.”
Barteau said he looks forward to his time at A&M and said he believes in not only being opportunistic and working on the broad goals of moving the institution forward but also recognizing opportunities when they come along and acting upon them.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity,” Barteau said. “A&M is just an incredible place and I think there is a real interest across the administration faculty of getting even better. I’m really excited to be a part of that and contribute my experience and my creativity to doing that.”

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