Va. Tech taps Fralin Life Sciences Institute leader
Robin L. McCarley will start as executive director Dec. 1
A chemistry professor from Louisiana State University will join Virginia Tech as executive director of its Fralin Life Sciences Institute.
Robin L. McCarley will start Dec. 1, the university announced Thursday. He was selected following a national search.
McCarley is currently the Barbara Womack Alumni Association Endowed Professor of Chemistry at LSU. At the Fralin institute, he will oversee investments, including recruitment and startup support for new institute-affiliated faculty members, retention and recognition of established faculty, investments in research centers, seed funds for new research, equipment purchases, core services, undergraduate and graduate student recruitment and support and outreach support.
McCarley will report to Dan Sui, the senior vice president for research and innovation.
“As an accomplished scientist with national leadership experience to promote interdisciplinary research, Dr. McCarley is the ideal candidate to lead the Fralin Life Sciences Institute at this pivotal time,” Sui, who is also the chief research and innovation officer for Virginia Tech, said in a statement. “I am confident that the Fralin Life Sciences Institute will reach a new level of excellence under Dr. McCarley’s visionary leadership in the coming years.”
X.J. Meng, professor at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and professor of internal medicine at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, has served as interim executive director at the Fralin institute since December 2021.
Environmental and life sciences research initiatives in the institute’s portfolio include infectious disease, global change, coastal studies, plant sciences, drug discovery, ecology and organismal biology, molecular and cellular biology, and cancer biology.
“I am honored by the opportunity to work with all stakeholders in guiding investments and developing crucial capabilities in the life and environmental sciences, which align with the institute’s mission and those of its partner units across the university to make the Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) difference,” McCarley said in a statement. “Such alliances aimed at amplifying transdisciplinary research, education, and outreach across boundaries are exciting, as they may offer synergistic outcomes and unique experiences that hold great potential to transform the lives of people at Virginia Tech, across the commonwealth, and beyond.”
From 2018 until September 2022, McCarley served as a program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Chemistry in the mathematical and physical sciences directorate, managing budgets totaling more than $50 million. At LSU, he leads the McCarley Research Group and focuses on the chemistry of stimuli-responsive molecular systems, both in solution and on surfaces, and within living mammalian cells. McCarley’s research interests include fluorescent probes of disease-linked biomarkers, liposomal drug delivery systems, surface chemistry, polymer chemistry, nanoscience, and bioanalytical/physical chemistry, with current interests in enzyme-activated materials for measurement science applications and imaging of cancerous tissue.
McCarley has received more than $20 million in external research and educational funding, has 14 patents and applications and has published more than 100 scientific peer-reviewed articles. He began his academic career at LSU in 1992 as an assistant professor of chemistry. McCarley received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1990 and a bachelor’s in chemistry from Lake Forest College, in Illinois, in 1986, according to his LinkedIn account. From 1990 to 1992, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. He has been elected to the American Chemical Society’s division of analytic chemistry and served as a fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, among other contributions.
The Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech is an investment institute that leverages university funds to invest in targeted research.