Hill tapped as new VP of Research to oversee labs

By Sarah Hetherington

University administrators announced Tuesday the appointment of Laurence Hill to the position of associate vice president for Research and for National Laboratories, effective May 7. Hill’s new position will straddle responsibilities at both Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

In his newly created role, Hill, who currently serves as assistant dean for Research Operations in the Biological Sciences Division (BSD), will take over many of the responsibilities of Renee Carder, who is departing from her current position as assistant vice president for Strategic Research Initiatives. Carder will take on the position of deputy to the Laboratory Director at Argonne National Laboratory.

Hill’s new role will also encompass the Board staffing for both Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

“There is a sense of synergy between the two labs and between them and the University,” said Levy. “Though the labs appear very different, there are common intellectual interests, and having one person operate both creates continuity, both operationally and even programmatically.”

In addition to those responsibilities formerly overseen by Carder, Hill will also be largely responsible for the new contractual relationship between Fermi Lab and the University. Having traditionally run only Argonne and with the additional responsibility of staffing the Board of Fermi Lab, the University will draw on Hill in order to staff both Boards and to maintain a consistent agenda between the two.

Some of Hill’s regular responsibilities will include arranging the three annual meetings of the Board of Governors for Argonne, a logistical feat, said Levy. The Department of Energy, which runs the national labs and provides money contractually for them, requires reviews for the activities of Argonne and Fermi. While Fermi, as a single-purpose lab, requires one review per year, Argonne’s multifaceted program requires many reviews. Hill will take over Carder’s task of overseeing reviews, with the additional task of structuring the reviews so that they provide maximum benefit to the organizations themselves.

Levy described Hill as the ideal man for the new position. In his 17 years with the BSD, he has overseen and coordinated divisional research operations within the offices of Research Services, Shared Research Facilities, Research Program Planning and Development, and Clinical Research. He has also served as operations project executive for the Howard T. Ricketts Regional Biocontainment Laboratory at Argonne. From 2004 to 2006, Hill served as assistant dean for Planning in the BSD and played key staff roles in the creation of the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology, the Ludwig Metastasis Center, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Farm Graduate Training Partnership.

Unlike Carder, who is trained as a biochemist, Hill is not a scientist, but he has an extensive background in more operational and organizational roles.

“He has an incredible ability to bring a number of disparate groups together to work on a common goal,” said Levy. “The BSD is very complex, and he has provided togetherness, which is what we’re looking for in his new position.”