“Dr. Lea has extensive experience in overseeing research programs in one of the nation’s leading areas for research and technology transfer, so he will be a great asset to our university as we build further on our success in research and outreach.”
“USA’s research and outreach programs have transformational impacts on the Gulf Coast region,” said Dr. Lea. “I look forward to contributing to their further development.”
USA’s research productivity has more than doubled since 2000. In addition to creating new knowledge through basic and applied research, USA’s research program represents a major industry for the region, pumping more than $60 million per year into the economy. A specific focus has been technology transfer, or creating new technological and medical advances and transferring them to private industry for marketing and distribution. USA’s technology transfer has included projects in engineering, medicine, computer science and a wide range of scientific disciplines.
USA’s research relationships with industry have been bolstered in recent years by the USA Technology and Research Park, which provides a venue for university researchers and students to work with the private sector to create high-technology industry for the area in fields such as information technology, engineering, biomedicine and telemedicine. The park stimulates entrepreneurship and new job creation. Currently, more than 200 private-sector professionals work in the park, representing 10 private companies. The park is located on the north end of the USA campus.
USA’s research program also includes outreach initiatives that are meeting a wide range of community needs, including improvement of the public schools, protection of the environment and the valuable seafood industry, improved health care, enhanced weather and hurricane prediction, and effective coastal engineering, among others. USA also focuses on the preservation of the area’s history and culture through its active arts, humanities and archaeological research programs.
As vice president for research at USA, Lea will oversee research growth across the institution, including interdisciplinary research efforts, resource development and orchestration of all phases of research administration. He will serve as the principal spokesperson for research administration programs and services, will engage in strategic planning for University-wide research initiatives, and ensure effective and efficient pre- and post-award processes to maintain and advance research compliance. He will oversee the activities of the Office of Sponsored Programs, the Office of Grants Administration, and Technology Transfer, and provide oversight of the USA Technology and Research Park as well as plan for its long-term growth and success.
Another important aspect of his position will be to fortify and advance productive relationships between USA and the community, particularly with current and potential partners from business, industry, and government. As vice president for research, Lea will work to advance USA’s interests with national institutes and foundations, legislative bodies, local, state and federal agencies, industry, and research consortia within the U.S. and abroad.
Lea will also support the largest research endeavor in the University’s history, the Mitchell Cancer Institute. The Institute is providing exceptional patient care through innovative treatment, as well as clinical and basic research. It is the first academic cancer research institute in the upper Gulf Coast region, representing a total investment of $125 million, including a new state-of-the-art treatment and research building adjacent to USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital.
Lea has extensive experience in academic research. As vice president for research at the University of North Carolina he is responsible for securing external research support from federal, state and private sources, as well as promoting innovation for economic development and technology transfer. He previously served as associate vice chancellor for research at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Prior to his roles in academic administration, Lea served as professor of forestry, soil science and ecology, and was active in research.
After graduating with a bachelor of science degree from the University of Washington in 1975, Lea went on to earn Ph.D.s from Syracuse University and from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, both located in Syracuse, New York.
Lea has authored and coauthored numerous publications, journal articles and papers on topics ranging from research funding to environmental issues. He was active in the establishment of the Society of Ecological Restoration, and currently serves on the editorial board of “Environmental Science and Policy Journal.”
He serves on numerous boards, including the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the Small Business Technology Development Center, and the Institute for Transportation Research and Education. Lea is a member of the Association of University Technology Managers, the National Council of University Research Administrators and the Society of Research Administrators.