Jay Walsh


Jay Walsh became the University of Illinois’ Interim Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation on May 16, 2020, after spending more than 30 years as a faculty member and administrator at Northwestern University. Most recently, he was Northwestern’s Senior Advisor to the President for Research and Science, where he provided general advice to the President and senior leadership of Northwestern, and also worked to advance strategic partnerships with organizations outside the University, such as industry, national and private research labs, international institutes, and research development groups. Dr. Walsh also was deeply engaged in policy issues that impacted Northwestern and the broader research community, including a leadership role on Northwestern’s committee focused on a broad set of opportunities and challenges that accompany working with foreign entities. Dr. Walsh is also an advisor for the Association of American Universities (AAU) on research-related opportunities and challenges.

Dr. Walsh currently serves on the Board of Directors at MxD, the Board of Governors at Argonne National Laboratory, the Board of Directors for Current, the MIT Corporation Visiting Committee for Sponsored Research, and the Board of Visitors for Vanderbilt’s Engineering School. He currently chairs the Boards for both the Chicago Council on Science and Technology, a Chicago-based science communications group driven by participation from major academic, hospital, museum, and industrial organizations in Chicago, and the University Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP), a U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine spin-out with significant national impact and growing global reach advancing the collaborations between universities and industry.

Dr. Walsh was Northwestern University's Vice President for Research from 2007 until 2019. During his tenure, the University’s external sponsored awards grew 91% from $417M in 2007 to $798M in 2019, one of the largest increases of any university in the US during that time period. As the VP for Research, Dr. Walsh oversaw an infrastructure and annual budget that supported research across not only the STEM fields but also the social sciences, arts, and humanities. He directed the development and implementation of University-wide, research-related, strategic plans, and provided leadership support for programs such as the Energy Frontier Research Centers, for which Northwestern was the only university in the country to receive two such awards in each of the three funding cycles; the Northwestern-Argonne Institute of Science and Engineering, which was initiated in 2014 and has grown to include >100 joint appointments between Northwestern and Argonne; and MxD, the national hub for digital manufacturing that, over the past six years, has received more than $100M in external funding. Northwestern saw an increase of 134% in industry funding for research during Dr. Walsh’s time as the University’s VP for Research. Under his leadership, the Office for Research made significant contributions to the development and support of Northwestern's core research facilities, becoming a national model for core facilities, and of Northwestern’s research institutes and centers, including the Institute for Policy Research, the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute, the International Institute for Nanotechnology, and the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern. Indeed, in his dozen years as VP for Research, Dr. Walsh grew the number of institutes and centers from less than 20 to more than 50 – each with significant external funding. Additionally, he championed global impact programs, such as the Mandela Washington Fellowship-Young African Leadership Initiative and the program on Equality Development and Global Studies, as well as local programs that impact K-12 students in Evanston and Chicago, for example, at Lakeview and Mather High Schools in Chicago and through Science Club at the Girls and Boys Clubs of Chicago.

Dr. Walsh joined Northwestern, in 1988, as a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, where he later served as Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and then Senior Associate Dean. He earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and his Ph.D. degree in Medical Engineering from a joint Harvard Medical School – MIT program. Dr. Walsh's research on laser-tissue interactions framed the understanding of laser ablation of biological tissue and laid the scientific foundation for many of today's standard laser-based procedures in medicine and surgery. More recently, his research focused on the diagnostic and therapeutic applications of light. Dr. Walsh has also excelled as a teacher and University citizen. In 1997, he was recognized as the Engineering School’s Teacher of the Year, and in 2005, he was selected as the Advisor of the Year. Dr. Walsh's broader University service has included his chairing of the Program Review Council, his leadership of a committee that transformed graduate student support via sponsored research, and his membership on The Graduate School Administrative Board and the Evanston Campus Planning Advisory Committee.

External to Northwestern, Dr. Walsh has played active roles in service as the president of the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery (2003-04) and as the chair for six international conferences. Previously, Dr. Walsh served on the Board of Directors at Fermi National Laboratory, the Illinois Governor’s Innovation Council, the Naval Research Advisory Committee, and the U.S. Secretary of Navy Advisory Panel.