Joseph Shields

Photographer: Kevin Riddell

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Shields chosen to lead Research and Creative Activity and Graduate College

Interim appointment officially begins Aug. 2

Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit announced the appointment of Joseph Shields as interim vice president for research and creative activity and dean of the Graduate College

Shields is a professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He will replace Rathindra Bose, who has accepted a position as vice chancellor for research and technology transfer for the University of Houston System and vice president for research and technology transfer for the University of Houston.

In making the announcement, Benoit stated that Shields' successful tenure as a researcher, teacher and academic administrator, along with the strong support his candidacy received from chairs, directors, deans, the research division and the Graduate College, made him an ideal interim appointment. 

"Joe has the leadership qualities needed to make progress on vital issues in the areas of research, creative activity and graduate education," Benoit said. "He is principled, knowledgeable, creative and collaborative."

Shields joined Ohio University in 1996. He received a B.S. in physics and astronomy from the University of Kansas and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a recipient of the Robert J. Trumpler Award for the Outstanding Dissertation in Astronomy in North America and a prestigious NASA Hubble Fellowship.

An expert in nebular astrophysics, Shields studies the consequences of supermassive black holes in galaxies.  In pursuit of his research, he uses both ground and space-based observatories.  Throughout his career Shields has maintained an active research program involving international collaborations, which have resulted in substantial federal grant support and peer-reviewed publications. He has served as a scientific editor of the premier journal in the field of astrophysics and is a frequently invited participant on scientific review panels that determine allocation of research time for the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

For six years, Shields has served as chair of one of the university's most active research departments, which is highly international in its composition and approach to science.  External grant support from multiple agencies has exceeded $5 million in FY11, accounting for more than 50 percent of the funded research in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy has one of the largest doctoral programs at Ohio University. Shields has worked extensively with graduate education as a Ph.D. supervisor, with master's students and as graduate admissions chair. He helped to establish a new graduate specialization in astrophysics and formed a partnership with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank, W.Va., to create additional research options for graduate students.

Shields stated that he is constantly impressed with the accomplishments of faculty and students in their pursuit of the development of knowledge. 

"Ohio University is a remarkable institution when it comes to uniting our educational mission with the professional activities of the scholars, artists and scientists who make up our faculty," Shields said. "It is the type of place where world-class discoveries are made in an environment that values students and collegiality."

The Graduate College was established in 2008. It currently offers 188 master's and 58 doctoral programs. The college supports students in all facets of their graduate careers, administers the admissions process, develops policies and programs and promotes initiatives that enhance the quality of graduate education at Ohio University.

The Vice President for Research Division assists faculty, students and staff in their search for new information, knowledge and understanding. It manages the university's investment in scholarship and its relationships with external sponsors, including the protection and commercialization of intellectual property. 

"The Graduate College and the research division are integral parts of Ohio University's commitment to excellence, innovation and transformational education," Shields said. "I look forward to working with the talented and dedicated staff of both units and with faculty, students and leaders across the university."

Shields will officially begin his term on Aug. 2, but will spend time in June and July working with Bose and others to ensure a smooth transition.