Robert McGrath Named Director of the Georgia Tech Research Institute

Published: December 21, 2010

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Georgia Tech Executive Vice President for Research Stephen Cross has named Battelle Memorial Institute’s Robert T. McGrath the new director of the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and Georgia Tech vice president.

McGrath, currently a consultant on National Laboratory/University Partnerships, STEM Education, and Race to the Top initiatives for Battelle Memorial, will begin his new responsibilities Feb. 1, 2011. He succeeds Cross, who served as GTRI director from 2003 to 2010 before being named Georgia Tech’s Executive Vice President for Research (EVPR) in May 2010.

“GTRI is a research powerhouse,” McGrath said. “It has a significant reputation both nationally and internationally for applied engineering and basic science research. GTRI is very well positioned because of its researchers’ outstanding expertise in selected problem areas important for defense and homeland security. We also have significant opportunity to translate that expertise into important technology contributions in sectors such as energy, biomedical engineering, and health care.”

McGrath served as the Senior Vice President for Research at The Ohio State University from 2004 to 2008 and as Associate Vice President for Research and Director of Strategic and Interdisciplinary Initiatives at The Pennsylvania State University from 1998 to 2004. During his tenure, he built extensive partnerships between academic, industry, and government sectors on a variety of applied research projects.

As part of institutional strategic planning at Ohio State, McGrath collaborated with the president, provost, college administrations, and faculty members on the Targeted Investments in Excellence (TIE) initiative, which identified and helped fund the institution’s top 10 preeminent academic and research programs. In support of academic programs, he also led efforts to establish the Office for Undergraduate Research.

“It’s clear that researchers and faculty across university campuses share the same fundamental passions for advancing scientific understanding, and for using technology to improve the quality of life and enhance our economic competitiveness,” McGrath said. “Researchers and faculty from GTRI and Georgia Tech’s academic units are uniquely positioned to assist Georgia Tech in achieving its mission to ‘define the technological research university of the 21st century.’”

McGrath served at Sandia National Laboratories in various capacities from 1984 to 1998. During that period, he served as the Department of Energy’s designated U.S. Coordinator for International Collaborations with Europe, Japan and the former Soviet Union on plasma facing components for the tokamak magnetic confinement fusion energy program, participated in establishment of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor program (ITER), led Sandia’s cooperative research and development programs with SEMATECH on plasma-driven chemistries for microelectronics manufacturing, and had responsibility for the laboratory’s high-performance computing applied engineering programs.  

“With his background in research and academic collaboration, Bob McGrath will provide technical leadership to help increase the collaboration between GTRI and the rest of the Institute.  This is a key aspect of our new Georgia Tech strategic plan and has the strong backing of Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson,” Cross said. “Greater synergy and collaboration are key components to growing our overall research and economic development impact.”

McGrath received his bachelor of science degree in engineering sciences, a master’s degree in physics and a master’s in mathematics from Penn State. He earned his doctorate in nuclear science and engineering from the University of Michigan.

Georgia Tech enlisted the services of executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles and their Atlanta and Washington offices in this recruitment effort.