The City University of New York earlier this week announced the appointment of Dr. Rosemarie Wesson as associate vice chancellor and university vice provost for research. Dr. Wesson, a chemical engineer, has established herself as a proven leader over two decades of service at CUNY and other universities, in the private sector and at the federal level.
Dr. Wesson, who assumed the role on Dec. 1 following a national search, will oversee CUNY’s cutting-edge research enterprise, the work of thousands of faculty scholars and staff whose work produces transformative advances for New Yorkers and their communities and creates important opportunities for CUNY students and graduates. She comes from The City College of New York, where she served as associate provost for research, a role in which she oversaw a 30% expansion of the college’s research portfolio, and where she previously served as associate dean for research in The Grove School of Engineering. Dr. Wesson also worked for nearly 14 years at the National Science Foundation (NSF), where she focused on sustainable chemistry, engineering and materials. As a program director, she managed both private-sector and academic research portfolios focused on energy, nanotechnology, emerging research opportunities and the field of chemical and biological separations.
“Dr. Wesson’s portfolio of accomplishments perfectly positions her to lead CUNY’s vast and vibrant research enterprise, which improves the lives of millions of New Yorkers through its innovations, inventions and ideas,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “Her unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion also aligns with CUNY’s mission to build opportunities for members of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups to thrive across the full range of subject areas and fields, reducing long-standing gaps in representation and achievement.”
“I look forward to joining the CUNY Office of Research,” said Dr. Wesson. “CUNY is an engine for social mobility, and I am excited by the opportunity to continue to grow the research enterprise within CUNY and across New York City.”
Dr. Wesson holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a master’s and doctoral degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan, where she was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in the field. Dr. Wesson has held faculty positions at the University of Maryland, Ohio State University and Louisiana State University. She also enjoys significant industry experience, with over two decades at the Dow Chemical Company.
She is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including the Women in Engineering Leadership Award from City College; the Minority Affairs Committee Eminent Chemical Engineers Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE); and the AIChE Black Achievers in Chemical Engineering Award. At the NSF she was recognized with the Director’s Award for Collaborative Integration and the NSF Director’s Award for Superior Accomplishment.
She has also gained recognition for her contributions to scientific communities. She was appointed a fellow in both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and AIChE, and has served as an elected member of the AIChE Board of Directors. She made history as the first woman to serve as treasurer of AIChE.
In her new role, Dr. Wesson leads the Office of Research at CUNY Central, with staff teams devoted to Research Integrity & Compliance, Research Development & Programs, and Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
The University this year unveiled “CUNY Lifting New York,” a strategic roadmap to transform CUNY into the nation’s foremost student-centered university system by the end of the decade. The plan prioritizes the expansion of public-impact research and scholarship leveraging CUNY’s distinctive scale, diversity and location, and calls for a 20% increase in both the number of funded research grants and total grant dollars awarded. The University raised a record-setting $633.2 million in external funding for research and other sponsored programs during the 2023 fiscal year.
The Office of Research has long provided internal grant funding for interdisciplinary research. The idea is to promote collaboration by faculty across campuses and disciplines, and to help researchers get projects up and running as they develop a clear path to expansion and the pursuit of external funding and support. Recent areas of emphasis include the impacts of climate change on urban and coastal environments, mitigation and consequences of COVID-19 and related public health issues, and a range of urban challenges in education, social services, population studies and beyond.