Vijay Ramani, the Roma B. and Raymond H. Wittcoff Distinguished University Professor of Environment and Energy at Washington University in St. Louis, has been named vice provost for graduate education, announced Provost Beverly Wendland. His three-year appointment is effective Jan. 1.
In his new role, Ramani, who is also a professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering, will serve as a key member of the provost’s core leadership team, advising the provost on graduate education trends, programming and policy and acting as a collaborative partner with the schools.
He will succeed Laurie Maffly-Kipp, the Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, who has served as interim dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for graduate education since July 2020.
“I’m pleased that Vijay Ramani will take on this role at a time when we are restructuring the Graduate School and focusing on graduate and professional education as a key topic in our strategic planning process,” Wendland said.
“Graduate education represents one of the university’s highest priorities and offers exciting potential for us to grow in distinction as an institution of research and higher learning. Vijay has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities in graduate education, and he will provide strong leadership, advance ongoing initiatives and develop partnerships across the university.”
Wendland has worked closely with Ramani through his recent committee work. He is a member of the Faculty Senate Council, serving as chair in 2020-21, and is also a member of the strategic planning coordinating committee.
“I’m confident he will bring innovative ideas and commitment to overseeing the management and quality of all PhD-granting programs as well as advancing the diversity and inclusiveness in graduate admissions, education and student support,” Wendland said.
“I also want to thank Laurie Maffly-Kipp for sharing her expertise in graduate program development and strong leadership skills during this interim period,” Wendland said.
“Laurie has kept our diverse, interdisciplinary graduate community focused on their academic journeys during a global pandemic. She also has played a key role in reorganizing the administration and oversight of many of our graduate education programs as the schools begin to support and strengthen their individual programming.”
A key responsibility for Ramani will be creating and leading the newly established Doctoral Council. The council’s primary role will be to regularly review and support the enhancement and growth of the university’s PhD programs.
Ramani also will closely collaborate with the school deans and school-level graduate program leaders on strategic graduate education initiatives and play a key role in advancing graduate and professional education as part of the universitywide strategic planning process.
He will promote diversity and inclusiveness throughout all aspects of the graduate program — teaching, learning, mentoring, and professional and scholarly development. And he will collaborate with student leadership, including the Graduate Professional Council.
‘Fulfilling the university’s mission’
“Envisioning and achieving distinctive and inclusive excellence at scale in graduate education is critical to fulfilling the university’s mission as well as to further elevating our reputation through regional, national and global impact,” Ramani said. “I look forward to working in close partnership with university leadership, faculty, staff and students to advance graduate education across campus.”
Ramani joined the McKelvey School of Engineering in 2016 from the Illinois Institute of Technology. His expertise and research interests lie at the confluence of electrochemical engineering, materials science and renewable and sustainable energy technologies.
Ramani also serves as director of the university’s Center for Solar Energy and Energy Storage and as a Faculty Fellow for Entrepreneurship for the Danforth Campus.
Since joining the Washington University faculty, Ramani and his group have received multiple major research grants, including a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, to create a new membrane that can be used in batteries for grid-scale electric energy storage.
He also received a continuing three-year $468,087 grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to create a stable, bipolar membrane for fuel-cell propulsion systems that would enable the U.S. Navy’s unmanned undersea vehicles to fulfill challenging mission requirements. This was supplemented by another $735,000 ONR defense program grant. And earlier this year, Ramani and his lab received a two-year $500,000 grant to help power plants increase efficiency, reduce emissions and improve grid stability.
Ramani earned a bachelor’s degree from Annamalai University in India and a PhD from the University of Connecticut, both in chemical engineering. He holds a visiting professorship at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and has previously held a visiting professorship at Tsinghua University and an extraordinary professorship at North-West University, South Africa.
A life member of the Electrochemical Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Society for Engineering Education, he has received numerous honors and awards, including a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation and ONR’s Young Investigator Program Award.