Jeffrey Urbach, the recently-named Vice Provost for Research.
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Jeffrey Urbach Named Vice Provost for Research

Jeffrey Urbach has been named the vice provost for research, a role responsible for working with an array of offices across the university on faculty research and scholarship. 

“The faculty at Georgetown accomplish a tremendous amount of excellent, impactful scholarship,” said Urbach. “I’m excited to help my colleagues continue to reach their goals and celebrate their successes.” 

Urbach, a physics professor and the interdisciplinary chair in science in the College of Arts & Sciences, will replace Billy Jack, an economics professor, who currently holds the role and will complete his term at the end of the calendar year. 

“Professor Jack’s tenure has been focused on improving the environment in which faculty conduct their scholarship, streamlining policies and procedures and building a culture of research,” said Provost Robert M. Groves in a message announcing Urbach’s appointment. “Professor Urbach will carry this important work forward as we continue to nurture a culture of collaborative research to achieve our shared goals of research excellence, educational preeminence and societal impact.”

Rounding-Up Resources for Research

Urbach will begin his new role on January 1, 2024 and is excited to hit the ground running, working with various schools and offices to facilitate the world-class research and scholarship for which Georgetown is known. 

“I am incredibly grateful for all that Billy Jack has done to improve our research administration and other aspects of research support, and will do my best to build on the solid foundation he has established,” said Urbach. “I am honored to have been selected for this role and I look forward to working with the Georgetown faculty to support and grow our research.” 

Since Urbach joined the faculty of the College of Arts & Sciences in 1996, he has not only produced excellent research, but been a proponent for it across the Hilltop, co-authoring papers with other faculty members and mentoring both undergraduate and graduate students from several departments. 

“The research of our faculty is truly amazing in both breadth and depth, spanning the arts, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, with strong collaborations across the University and beyond,” said Urbach.  “We do an excellent job of mentoring students and young researchers, and finding ways to integrate our teaching and research. At Georgetown, there is so much to be proud of, but there is also a lot more that we can accomplish together.”

Understanding Urbach

Urbach received his Ph.D in physics at Stanford University and joined the Department of Physics in the College of Arts & Sciences after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Urbach’s research interests include complex dynamical systems, biophysics and soft matter physics. His diverse interdisciplinary collaborations have produced impactful publications in materials physics, cellular biophysics, biomaterials, optical imaging and statistical physics.  

At Georgetown, Urbach has chaired the Department of Physics, served as the co-director of the Program on Science in the Public Interest and as the director of the Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology. Urbach developed two science courses for non-science majors: The Science of Technology, which focuses on policy-relevant research, and Startling Truths, which brings the process of scientific discovery and humanity’s understanding of the cosmos to the forefront. 

Urbach received a Sloan Foundation Fellowship and sustained research funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and other government agencies and private foundations. In 2000, Professor Urbach received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and in 2016 he was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society.  

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