Associate Vice President for Research Guru Rao, who will serve as interim Vice President for Research beginning July 1.

Rao Will Serve as Interim Vice President for Research

By Rob Schweers, Iowa State University Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert announced this week that Guru Rao will serve as interim vice president for research (VPR), effective July 1.

Rao, who serves as associate VPR and professor in the Roy J. Carver department of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology (BBMB), will succeed Sarah Nusser, who announced last September her intent to complete her service at the end of the fiscal year.

“Guru is a renowned scientist, administrator and university citizen who is highly respected in every corner of campus,” Wickert said. “I appreciate his willingness to serve — particularly during this unprecedented time, and in these unique circumstances — and I know he will do an exemplary job.”

Rao joined the Iowa State faculty in 2006 after working 18 years as a researcher at DuPont Pioneer. He was named chair of the BBMB department in 2007 and served in that capacity until his appointment as associate VPR in 2016.

An accomplished scientist, Rao is an inventor with 26 patents related to the development and application of engineered proteins. He earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Mysore in India. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Inventors and a member of Pioneer’s Inventors Hall of Fame.

“I am humbled by this opportunity to serve my colleagues,” Rao said. “I look forward to continuing the great work of Sarah Nusser to grow Iowa State’s research enterprise and maintaining an environment that will allow our next VPR to be successful.”

A search for Nusser’s permanent replacement is underway, including the identification of four finalists. The search was temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wickert said the university will resume in-person finalist visits as soon as it is feasible. Details will be shared when they’re known.

“We prefer to have in-person, on-campus interviews for positions such as the VPR, who interacts with faculty and staff in every academic discipline,” Wickert said. “Suspending the search until it is safe for finalists to visit — and to introduce themselves to the campus community — is the right thing to do at this time.”