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UW Names Synakowski VP for Research and Economic Development

July 21, 2017
Edmund Synakowski
UW Vice President for Research and Economic Development Edmund “Ed” Synakowski

An accomplished physics researcher who directs the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fusion Energy Sciences office has been chosen as the University of Wyoming’s vice president for research and economic development.

Edmund “Ed” Synakowski will begin at UW Aug. 8, succeeding longtime Vice President Bill Gern, who is retiring. Synakowski also will be a professor in the UW Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“I am delighted that a scientist and administrator of Dr. Synakowski’s stature has agreed to lead the University of Wyoming’s vital research and economic development enterprises,” President Laurie Nichols says. “I am confident he will play a key role in building upon the foundation established by Dr. Gern and others to continue to grow the university’s research portfolio -- and help UW become an even stronger intellectual engine for the state’s economy.”

The role of the vice president for research and economic development is to support and facilitate the research efforts of UW's faculty, staff and students; direct the university's research mission as a public research university; promote the university's research program with stakeholders; and direct technology transfer and commercialization efforts for UW intellectual property.

Synakowski has held his current position, associate director of science in the Department of Energy, since 2009, administering a budget of about $400 million annually to develop nuclear fusion as an energy source. His agency supports research at more than 50 universities, eight national and two federal laboratories, and 15 industry groups.

He previously led the Fusion Energy Program at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and held a number of roles at Princeton University’s Plasma Physics Laboratory.

“I have been considering a move to a major research university for some time, and I am excited about the opportunity to be a champion for a wide range of disciplines at the University of Wyoming,” Synakowski says. “I am also drawn by my belief that the exceptional place that UW already has in benefitting the lives of Wyoming’s citizens can be strengthened. Finally, my wife, Ellen, and I are attracted to the beauty of the region, the people we are coming to know, and the adventure this offers.

“There also is great potential in deepening the university’s impact on the national and global stage. Partnerships with industry and other institutions, including land-grant universities, are key to leverage UW’s unique strengths, and I look forward to drawing upon my experience in partnering to help the university thrive in fulfilling its mission of education, research and service.”

Synakowski earned a bachelor’s degree in physics at Johns Hopkins University in 1982 and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1988. He is the author of more than 160 peer-reviewed journal articles, primarily in the area of plasma fusion science.

He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and a recipient of the APS Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research (2001) and Princeton University’s Kaul Foundation Prize for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research and Technology Development (2000).

He has a family connection to UW as well. His second cousin, Ed Synakowski, was a student-athlete at UW who played quarterback for the Cowboys in 1968-69 before his death in a Lake Hattie boating accident in September 1970.


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