Irving R. Epstein named senior research adviser to provost

Photo/Susan Chaityn Lebovits

Henry F. Fischbach Professor of Chemistry Irving R. Epstein

Irving R. Epstein, the Henry F. Fischbach Professor of Chemistry, has been named senior adviser to the provost for research.

Announcing the appointment, Provost Steve A.N. Goldstein ’78 said that Epstein will work with faculty, center directors and academic and administrative leaders across all disciplines and schools to enhance Brandeis’ research enterprise.

Goldstein said Epstein will oversee improvements in research support and coordination, including improved ways of identifying and obtaining new research funding and providing guidance for effective research administration. Epstein also will chair the external awards subcommittee of the University Advisory Council.

 “Irv brings a breadth of skills and experiences to the role that are truly unique,” Goldstein said. “He has the vision to advance the research mission of Brandeis across its many dimensions.”

A member of the Brandeis faculty since 1971, Epstein is an experienced administrator and a former provost. He said that in addition to his new responsibilities he plans to continue his basic research and maintain his commitments to teaching and to the Science Posse – an organization he founded to attract and retain talented, underrepresented students in college-level science.

“My day will just become a little longer,” Epstein said. 

Regarding the improvements in research support and administration mentioned by Goldstein, Epstein said some such improvements are ready for implementation. This is a result of a detailed study done last year by a consulting firm that was hired to help the university as it renegotiated with the federal government indirect cost rates associated with federal funding.

“That was an occasion to look at the whole research enterprise,” Epstein said. “A number of recommendations were made as to how we might make getting and administering grants more efficient.”

Epstein is the second senior adviser named by Goldstein; last month, the provost appointed Anita Hill, professor of Social Policy, Law and Women's Studies in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management,  to lead and coordinate interdisciplinary academic initiatives and to play a central role in the strategic planning process that began this fall.

“Steve wants to do some creative things,” Epstein said. “Both Anita and I are sources of institutional memory, we are familiar with the culture of the university and we have a willingness to come up with new approaches and be available to bounce new ideas off of.”

Epstein stressed that he hopes to work with people outside the sciences as well as in traditional scientific areas to obtain more support for research and to lessen the administrative burden placed on researchers by government requirements.

“Investigators find themselves spending more and more time on administrative tasks rather than doing what they enjoy and are good at, which is real research,” he said. “It should be the job of the university to try to lessen that administrative burden, and to help people who are less familiar with the process to go after and obtain support for their research.”

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