Fenves names Daniel Jaffe new vice president of research

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

University President Gregory Fenves announced Tuesday that Daniel Jaffe will be the new Vice President of Research for the University.

Juan Sanchez, who held the position for the last 16 years, announced he would step down around the time former President William Powers Jr. and other higher faculty members left their positions. Jaffe formerly served as the assistant chair of the astronomy department from 2000 to 2011 and served as the chair of the department until 2015. Jaffe was previously on the board of the Gemini Observatory for the twin telescopes in Hawaii and Chile.

Jaffe said in this position, he looks forward to working and collaborating with colleges across the University, such as the College of Natural Sciences.

“The combination of the size and quality of our student body, the scale and quality of research at UT and its location in the heart of a large and growing state give it a special importance,” Jaffe said in an email. “UT is both at the forefront of research in many areas and a leader in getting undergraduates ­— particularly freshman — involved in research through programs like CNS’s unique Freshman Research Initiative.”

Jayathi Murthy, chair of the search committee and chair of the mechanical engineering department, said the committee interviewed candidates in early September for two days after reviewing all the applications they received by the middle of August.

Murthy said Jaffe’s previous work funding major projects stood out to the committee.

“[Jaffe] has helped build the Gemini telescope and other large telescopes,” Murthy said. “He also runs the McDonald Observatory, so he is very used to dealing with large funding agencies and bringing in funding.”  

Fenves said in a University-wide email that he is excited to name Jaffe to a new position and looks forward to the collaborations to come at the University.

“As I discussed in my State of the University address, expanding our research capabilities and pursuing many opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration across the campus is a high priority,” Fenves said. “Dr. Jaffe is especially eager to work with all faculty to create a campus-wide culture of innovation and strong support for the research enterprise.”