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Commission Brings National and International Expertise to Strengthen Research at URI

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Led by Justice Robert G. Flanders, nine member commission will begin work in October

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (September 13, 2007)—Justice Robert G. Flanders, Jr., Chair of the URI Commission for Innovation and Research, today announced the full roster of national and international leaders who will serve with him on the commission.

The commission is charged with proposing actions to strengthen URI’s position as a nationally competitive public research university and a key institution in Rhode Island’s effort to grow an innovation economy. The plan for the commission initially appeared as a recommendation of the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC) and was formalized by legislative statute in 2006.

With Flanders at the helm, the nine-member team will evaluate research capacity at URI and make recommendations for how the university can 1) grow the size, significance and competitiveness of its R&D programs 2) produce a larger, better trained and more science and technology oriented workforce and 3) increase the levels of both industry involvement in its research programs and technology transfer/commercialization activities.

Appointees include Dr. James Coleman, Vice Provost for Research at Rice University; President and Chief Executive Officer of Women and Infants Hospital Constance Howes; respected Rhode Island business and civic leader Carol Grant; University of Rhode Island Vice President for Research Dr. Peter Alfonso; Dr. Margaret S. Leinen, Chief Science Officer for Climos; Saul Kaplan, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and Executive Counselor to the Governor on Economic Growth and Community Development; Dr. David Hibbitt, former Chairman of ABAQUS, located in Providence.

Also among those appointed to the commission is Lord Alec Broers, a well known and respected scientist and research administrator in the United Kingdom. In addition to spending nearly 20 years with IBM here in the United States, Lord Broers is the former head of the Engineering Department at Cambridge University and Vice Chancellor of that university. His ongoing activities include chairing the science and technology committee of the British House of Lords and presenting the prestigious BBC Reith lectures last year on “The Triumph of Technology.”

“It is a great pleasure to serve on this important commission,” says Lord Broers. “A strong state research capacity is a vitally important engine for economic growth. I look forward to working with Justice Flanders and my colleagues on the commission to help define a clear path for strengthening the URI’s ability to serve as a nationally prominent research institution.”

STAC will provide staffing support for the commission.

“URI is one of Rhode Island’s most important resources and central to our efforts to create an innovation economy that produces good jobs for every Rhode Islander,” says Commission Chair Flanders. “I am thrilled to work with this commission, Governor Carcieri, the General Assembly and leadership at the University of Rhode Island to develop recommendations for how we can make the most the most of this valuable asset.”

The commission will formally begin its work in September and will report their findings and recommendations to the governor and the Rhode Island General Assembly by September of 2008.

Commission Biographies:

Hon. Robert G. Flanders Jr., Chair

Robert Flanders served eight years as an Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court before returning to the private practice of law in 2004. Today, he is a partner in the law firm of Hinckley, Allen and Snyder. He serves as an Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at Brown University, where he teaches constitutional law, and as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Roger Williams University, where he teaches courses on the judicial process. Judge Flanders is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Brown University. Flanders serves as a member of various boards of directors and commissions, including the CARE New England Hospital system, Women and Infants Hospital (vice chair of the board), the Providence Performing Arts Center, the Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, the Rhode Island Historical Society, Common Cause of Rhode Island, the Brown University Leadership Advisory Council and the Greater Providence YMCA, where he served as Chairman of the Board for a three-year term that ended on May 29, 2003.

Dr. Peter Alfonso

Peter Alfonso is the Vice President for Research and Economic Development at the University of Rhode Island. In previous research administration positions, he served as the Vice President for Research at the University of North Dakota, Associate Vice President for Research at the University of Tennessee and as Associate Provost for Research, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. From 1991 to 1999, Dr. Alfonso was a professor and head of the department of Speech and Hearing Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and from 1977 to 1991 served as research scientist at the Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, Connecticut and as assistant professor, associate professor, and professor of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at the University of Connecticut. He has held a number of adjunct research and academic appointments in the United States and abroad. Since taking his Ph.D. in Speech Science and Experimental Phonetics from Purdue University in 1977, he has been awarded more than $20 million in federal research awards, and has published more than 130 book chapters, articles and abstracts in speech acoustics, perception and speech physiology, particularly in the areas of speech motor control in normal and speech disordered populations. Dr. Alfonso is a 1990 Fulbright Research Scholar to the Netherlands, a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and a Fellow of the American Council on Education.

Lord Alec Broers

Alec Broers has a long record of distinguished service. He is a well known and respected scientist and research administrator in the United Kingdom who has a summer home in Jamestown. Among a long list of prestigious positions, he spent nearly 20 years in research at IBM and has served as the head of the engineering department at Cambridge University in England and as Vice-Chancellor (or, President) of that university. Recently, he served as the President of the Royal Academy of Engineering (2001-2006) and delivered the prestigious BBC Reith Lectures. He is now retired, but his ongoing activities include chairing the science and technology committee of the British House of Lords. He is a pioneer in the area of nanotechnology and was knighted and made a life Peer by Her Majesty the Queen in recognition of his contribution to engineering and higher education.

Dr. James S. Coleman

James Coleman is Vice Provost for Research at Rice University. Prior to that he served in various academic research positions including Vice Chancellor for Research and Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri – Columbia (MU), Vice President for Research and Business Development at the Desert Research Institute (DRI) — an environmental science research institute with annual research expenditures of approximately $30,000,000 and campuses in both Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada. Prior to that he was an Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor of Biology at Syracuse University and a Program Officer at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Some of Coleman’s other key professional activities include serving as a Member of the Board of the Missouri Innovation Center, the Association of Ecosystem Research Centers, the Research Alliance of Missouri, the Nevada Technology Council and the Coalition of EPSCoR states. Coleman holds a B.S. (Forestry) from the University of Maine, and a M.S., M. Phil and Ph.D. in physiological ecology from Yale University.

Carol Grant, Esq.

Carol Grant is an executive whose experience has ranged through law, telecommunications and manufacturing for more than 20 years including executive positions at Verizon and Textron. Prior to her corporate experience, she was a litigation attorney for five years in two major law firms in St. Paul, Minnesota and Boston. Most recently Grant served as Chief of Operations for Providence Mayor David Cicilline. In that role, she led the departments that provide basic city services, planning and economic development. Grant has served as Chair of the Board of the National Conference for Community and Justice, member of the Governor’s Economic Policy Council, Chair of the Trustees of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, and on the boards of the Rhode Island Foundation, Providence Plan, Providence College and the Providence Performing Arts Center. She is also a member of the board of AAA of Southern New England. She also served as the first chair of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, responsible for the oversight of the transformation of Rhode Island’s airport system. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri and University of Michigan Law School.

Dr. David Hibbitt

Dr. David Hibbitt, Chairman of Hibbitt, Karlsson and Sorensen, located in Providence, Rhode Island, began his career in engineering with Associated Electrical Industries of Manchester, England, working on the design of large steam turbines for electrical power generation. From 1972 to 1977 he worked for the Marc Analysis Research Corporation, where he was responsible for the development of the Marc finite element program. In 1978 he founded Hibbitt, Karlsson and Sorensen (now ABAQUS), and began the design and development of the ABAQUS program. In 1978 and 1980, Dr. Hibbitt taught as an adjunct professor in the graduate school of the University of Texas at Austin. He has served on the editorial advisory board of the International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, and was a member of the Computational Mechanics Committee of the U.S. National Research Council’s Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems from 1982 to 1984. He received a Brown University Engineering Alumni Medal in 1997. He has served on advisory committees that assisted the Office of Naval Research, and Sandia National Laboratory, in evaluating their research programs in engineering mechanics, and currently serves on the executive council of the U.S. Association for Computational Mechanics, on the North American advisory committee for NAFEMS, an organization that promotes reliability and quality in computational mechanics applications, and on the advisory council for Brown University’s division of engineering.

Constance Howes, Esq.

Constance Howes is President and Chief Executive Officer of Women and Infants Hospital, one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. Prior to this she served as its Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and was Vice President and General Counsel for Care New England Health System, the health system comprised of Women and Infants Hospital, Kent Hospital and Butler Hospital. Prior to her appointment with Care New England, she was Vice President and General Counsel for Women and Infants Hospital. Before joining Women and Infants Hospital, Ms. Howes was an attorney with Tillinghast, Collins and Graham for 17 years where she practiced primarily in the area of business law and served as Chairman of the Corporate Department. Ms. Howes is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber Foundation, the Providence Economic Development Partnership, a member of Providence College President’s Council, the Rhode Island Commodores and past member of the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board 1 and a member and past Chair of the American Hospital Association Maternal Child Health Governing Council. She is active with CWISH, the Council of Women and Infants Specialty Hospitals. She graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon College and received her J.D. degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Saul Kaplan

Saul Kaplan is the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation. Kaplan serves as the Executive Counselor to the Governor on Economic Growth and Community Development. Kaplan is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Quonset Development Corporation and for the Slater Technology Fund. He also is a member of the Board of Directors for Family Services of Rhode Island and for the Big Picture Company. Kaplan created and leads Rhode Island's unique Innovation @ Scale economic development strategy aimed at increasing the state's capacity to grow and support an innovation economy, including an effort to turn the state's compact geography and close-knit public and private networks into a competitive advantage. Kaplan was appointed by Governor Carcieri to the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council. Kaplan is also the founder and Chief Catalyst of the Business Innovation Factory (BIF), a non-profit dedicated to enabling collaborative innovation. Kaplan started the non-profit in 2004 with a mission to bring public and private sector partners together to explore and test better ways to deliver value. As Chief Catalyst, Kaplan oversees BIF's portfolio of collaborative innovation projects — projects with transformational potential in areas including healthcare, security, education, ubiquitous computing and customer experience innovation. Prior to his state leadership role in economic development Kaplan served as a Senior Strategy Partner in Accenture's Health and Life Science practice and worked broadly throughout the pharmaceutical, medical products and biotechnology industry. Prior to his career in management consulting, Kaplan spent eight years working for the Pharmaceutical Division of Eli Lilly and Company. As a Marketing Plans Manager, Kaplan was responsible for developing the launch strategy and successful introduction of Prozac into the U.S. market. Kaplan holds an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute focusing on the strategic management of technology and a B.S. in Pharmacy from the University of Rhode Island

Dr. Margaret Leinen

Margaret S. Leinen is Chief Science Officer for Climos, a San Francisco-based company that leverages natural processes to reduce greenhouse gasses. Before joining Climos, she served six years as Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation. Prior to coming to NSF, Leinen was Dean, Graduate School of Oceanography and Vice Provost for Marine and Environmental Programs at the University of Rhode Island. She was also Acting Dean, College of the Environment and Life Sciences. Leinen is past president of the Oceanography Society. She served on the Board of Governors of the Joint Oceanographic Institutions, on the Board of Directors of the Bermuda Biological Station for Research and on and the Ocean Research Advisory Council. Leinen also served as the Vice Chair of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and on the Board on Global Change of the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences. Leinen received her B.S. degree (1969) in geology from the University of Illinois; M.S. (1975) in geological oceanography from Oregon State University; and Ph.D. (1980) in geological oceanography from the University of Rhode Island.