Curt M. Peterson, West Virginia University’s vice president for research and economic development, announced Monday he will retire effective with the naming of his replacement.

Peterson has led WVU’s research enterprise and served as president of the WVU Research Corp. since 2007. Under his leadership, funding for sponsored programs has increased 28 percent, climbing more than $39 million to a record $177.7 million in fiscal 2010.

“Curt has been a wonderful colleague with strong integrity and dedication to our research mission,” President Jim Clements said. “He leaves us a research enterprise poised to leverage the steady growth we have experienced over the past several years.

“I wish him the very best in retirement and thank him for his significant and selfless service to our University.”

Peterson said his service at WVU has sought to “emphasize the need to pursue interdisciplinary research to address pressing societal problems and needs that create new jobs and contribute to economic development of the region.”

Those approaches took the form of administrative leadership for the development of the WVNano Initiative, a statewide initiative in nanotechnology and materials science that has been supported in part by significant funding from the NSF EPSCoR program since 2006, and the development of the WVU Advanced Energy Initiative; a campus-wide effort that affords faculty from science, technology, energy and mathematics and policy-related disciplines the opportunity to find effective and environmentally responsible ways to solve energy-related problems.

He also was a key participant in the development of the WV Research Trust Fund, a partnership between the state of and WVU to create an endowment program that is expected to bring up to $70 million in state and private giving to support research in four areas – advanced energy, biomedical sciences, nanotechnology and materials science, and security and intelligence.

He also has contributed to the establishment of the National Energy Technology Laboratory Regional University Alliance, an applied research collaboration joining NETL’s fossil energy expertise with five nationally recognized regional universities to accelerate the development and deployment of innovative energy and environmental technology.

Peterson was one of the principal writers of Vision 2015: The West Virginia Science and Technology Strategic Plan that provided the blueprint for West Virginia’s research, education, workforce and economic development. He continues to serve on the West Virginia Science and Research Council that oversees the full implementation of Vision 2015 and the statewide EPSCoR program.

Before becoming vice president, Peterson served as WVU’s associate vice president for research and economic development from 2005 through 2007.

Before coming to WVU in 2005, Peterson served as interim dean and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado (2003-2005); professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado (1997-2003); professor and acting head of the Department of Botany and Microbiology at Auburn University (1994-1996); professor, Auburn University (1984-1997); associate professor, Auburn University (1976-1987); plant physiologist, US Department of Agriculture-ARS Experiment Station, Pendleton, OR (1979-1980); and assistant professor, Auburn University (1971-1976).

A plant biologist, Peterson’s research has led to more than 165 technical reports including more than 50 articles published in refereed journals. He has served as the principal investigator or co-PI on grants or contracts from a wide range of federal and state agencies totaling more than $20 million.

He earned a doctorate in biology from the University of Oregon and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Morehead State University.

President Clements said a national search will begin immediately.

“We have excellent faculty, staff and students doing nationally and internationally important work,” Clements said. “Given the importance of research in our Strategic Framework for the future, we will conduct an aggressive search to find the best candidate to support our research and scholarship at the highest levels.”

Details on the search are expected in the coming weeks.



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