Dr. Jason Best, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, has been named director of strategic research initiatives. In his new role, Best will work collaboratively with external and internal partners to further develop and enhance the university’s emerging research agenda across all disciplines.
“I will serve as a liaison between the university and external research partners, matching the interests of our students and faculty with the opportunities and needs of those external partners,” Best said. “I will also work with deans and faculty to introduce, develop, and implement new strategic research initiatives at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.”
Best will also serve in an advisory role with the Shepherd Entrepreneurship and Research Corporation, a nonprofit organization tasked with helping to create economic development and research opportunities for the university and the region. Best said this new position will build upon the already productive research tradition at Shepherd and provide more opportunities for both faculty and students.
“A university is responsible for not only dissemination of knowledge, but also for generation of knowledge,” Best said. “Furthermore, research is one of the highest impact practices that students of any discipline can engage in. Student research is about career preparation. We find that students who participate in research are exploring, discovering, and producing within their fields of study. This engagement not only provides sustained benefits for the students, but also for Shepherd and society.”
“We are delighted that Dr. Best agreed to serve in this significant new role,” said President Mary J.C. Hendrix. “He brings enthusiasm and visionary leadership to Shepherd’s expanding research agenda that will benefit our trainees as they prepare for tomorrow’s career opportunities.”
Dr. Scott Beard, acting provost, said this is an opportunity for Best to apply what he learned two years ago as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow, where his focus was on how a primarily undergraduate institution can enhance its culture of research for all students at all levels.
“We are excited to have someone of Jason’s expertise overseeing existing research strengths, interdisciplinary collaborations, and promising new and growing areas of research that inspire innovation and global impact,” Beard said.