When I entered Pomona College, I was surprised that there were questions my professors could not answer. During my elementary and high school education, all questions posed had answers, and we learned to express those answers clearly on our exams. But in college I was exposed to the frontier of knowledge, where some questions did not yet have answers. As an undergraduate student, I spent two summers working alongside faculty and other students discovering answers to questions at the frontier. It so excited me that I pursued a doctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I learned to pose my own questions as well as answer some of them. This is why I have relished an academic career, and especially my past 15 years at Illinois Institute of Technology.
As the vice provost for research since October 2018, I have the privilege to work with faculty, students, and staff at Illinois Tech to build the foundation for the future growth of our research enterprise. Our university has recently reorganized and strengthened our administrative support for research. The Office of Research includes the Office of Sponsored Research and Programs, to the Office of Research Integrity and Compliance, and the Office of Technology Development. Research Administrative Services and Grants and Contract Accounting are under University Finance.
We are building new research collaborations across disciplinary boundaries, which makes it possible for us to solve important problems that are outside the scope of a single discipline. We are partnering with outside organizations to leverage our expertise for greater impact. We are exploring new resources to support our scholarly activity. We are engaged with our undergraduate students in planning to involve them more in research—at their request.
“Discover. Create. Solve.” is our university’s new tagline. This is what excites us about research at Illinois Tech. While we must learn from what has already been discovered, created, and solved, we are keen to jump in and discover, create, and solve for ourselves. It is our passion as faculty, and a passion that we are passing on to our students.
Fred J. Hickernell
Vice Provost for Research
Professor of Applied Mathematics