Introducing our interim vice president for research

March 17, 2023

To Our URI Community,

I am pleased to share that Bethany Jenkins, professor of cell and molecular biology and oceanography, has been appointed interim vice president for research and economic development, effective April 8, 2023.

Elevating our research enterprise and emphasizing public scholarship are central components of our new strategic plan, Focus URI, and core to our academic mission as the state of Rhode Island’s flagship university. The vice president will play a leading role in driving our work in these areas and so will report jointly to me, as president, and Barbara Wolfe, as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

Bethany has been an influential voice in advancing the University’s research endeavors. Her own considerable research experience includes currently serving as a co-principal investigator on a statewide National Science Foundation Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) coastal ecology grant. The five-year award is focused on new approaches to assess, predict, and respond to the impacts of climate change on coastal ecosystems. She also is co-PI on a pending statewide NSF EPSCoR grant that will support the study of marine plastic pollution on coastal ecosystems, and, through several NSF and Rhode Island Sea Grant awards, she is using genetic and genomic methods to study nutrient metabolism in organisms across ocean ecosystems.

Bethany was a member of the University’s research advisory council and serves on a steering committee for undergraduate experiential learning focused on supporting the research activities of undergraduate students.

Nationally, Bethany was a member of, and held elected leadership roles with, the Ocean Carbon Biogeochemistry Scientific Steering Committee, an organization created by NSF, NASA, and NOAA to help identify research priorities and coordinate collaborative, multidisciplinary opportunities in ocean biogeochemistry research. She currently serves as a member of a scientific steering committee for the NSF Chemical Oceanography GEOTRACES program, which aims to understand trace element cycling in the ocean.

Bethany joined URI in 2005 through a joint appointment as an assistant professor of cell and molecular biology and oceanography in the College of the Environment and Life Sciences and the Graduate School of Oceanography. She was promoted to associate professor in 2012, and to professor in 2017. She also has served as the graduate program coordinator for the cell and molecular biology program, and the graduate program director for biological and environmental sciences.

The recipient of several scientific awards, Bethany received the URI Research and Scholarship Excellence Award in 2018 and, in 2016, was awarded the Brown University Inspiring Women in Science Award. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, with honors, from Mount Holyoke College, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Oregon.

I want to take this opportunity to again thank Peter Snyder for his years of service as vice president for research and economic development and his contributions to our University and our state. As shared last week, Peter will continue to serve on the University faculty and contribute to his respected work leading important Alzheimer’s disease research.

Please join me in thanking Bethany for her willingness to serve in this interim role as we launch an international search for our next research vice president, and as we broaden the impact of URI by accelerating the multidisciplinary research happening across our University.

Marc Parlange