Materials physicist Kathryn Moler named Stanford vice provost and dean of research
Moler succeeds Professor Ann Arvin, who will be returning to teaching and research after 12 years as research dean.
Professor Kathryn Ann “Kam” Moler, senior associate dean of natural sciences in the School of Humanities and Sciences, has been named vice provost and dean of research at Stanford effective Sept. 1, Provost Persis Drell announced today.
Moler, BS ’88, PhD ’95, a professor of physics and applied physics who focuses on nanotechology, will support Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory research programs that receive more than $1.2 billion in external funding annually. She succeeds Professor Ann Arvin, who will be returning to teaching and research in her field of microbiology and immunology after 12 years as research dean.
“Kam Moler is an excellent scientist and a generous university citizen. She brings strategic vision and comprehensive leadership experience supporting multiple school departments to the job. She has long been an advocate for expanded faculty resources and shared research facilities and as an ASG (Administrative Services Group) co-lead has been deeply engaged in our process for envisioning the future of research at Stanford,” said Provost Persis Drell, who chaired the search committee. “I am very excited she will be joining the university leadership team and I am looking forward to her contributions.”
Moler has held numerous leadership positions at Stanford, most recently as senior associate dean for the natural sciences, overseeing the departments of Applied Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Statistics, as well as the Hopkins Marine Station. She has chaired the Faculty Senate and served on both the University Budget Group and the 2016 Presidential Search Committee.
Moler co-chaired the Area Steering Group for Research in Stanford’s recently completed long-range planning process. She took inspiration from the hundreds of ideas that the Stanford community submitted to amplify the university’s research impact. The planning process yielded new priorities, new platforms for shared infrastructure, internal grant programs, and other cross-university research resources. In her new position, Moler will spearhead the implementation of this new research vision.
“Kam shares our enthusiasm for Stanford to further accelerate and amplify discovery in service to the world,” said President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. “She is a passionate advocate both for foundational, curiosity-driven research and for applied research. I couldn’t be more delighted that we will benefit from her tremendous energy, experience and leadership in implementing the university’s research vision.”
As dean of research, Moler will oversee five shared research facilities and Stanford’s 18 independent labs, institutes, and centers, which span the life sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, humanities, engineering, and medicine. She will also oversee offices that support the research enterprise, including the offices of Environmental Health and Safety, Science Outreach, Research Compliance and Technology Licensing.
“I am excited by Stanford’s potential to push forward in new directions, to explore new frontiers of knowledge, to probe some of nature’s deepest questions, and potentially to solve some of society’s most intractable problems,” Moler said. “We have the ability to exert transformative impacts on knowledge and on society through our scholarship, which we can accelerate with new research platforms. Our strong departments and interdisciplinary centers and institutes share the vision as well as the ethos to make it all happen.”
A major thrust of the long-term vision, which grew out of the long-range planning process, is to increase the university’s reliance on shared tools and resources to support research throughout the university. A long-time advocate for shared state-of-the-art equipment, Moler co-founded the Stanford Center for Probing the Nanoscale (supported by the National Science Foundation) in 2003 and served as its principal investigator until 2011. As director of the Stanford Nano Shared Facilities from 2008 to 2016, she sought broad input from the research community, advocated for internal and external resources, and led Stanford’s team that won an award from the National Science Foundation to establish a National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure site. She has advanced the national and international infrastructure for nanoscale science and engineering.
Moler earned her bachelor’s degree in physics with honors from Stanford in 1988 and her doctorate in physics from Stanford in 1995. After three years as an R. H. Dicke postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University, she became the first female faculty member in Stanford’s Department of Applied Physics in 1998. She conducts research in magnetic imaging, develops tools that measure nanoscale magnetic fields, and studies quantum materials and devices. She has authored or co-authored more than 80 scientific papers. Among other honors, she held a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering and received the William L. McMillan Award “for her fundamental studies of the superconducting pairing state, Josephson vortices, and the role of interlayer coupling in high-temperature superconductors.”
Moler has taught classes ranging from Advanced Topics in Quantum Mechanics to Professional Ethics for Physicists. She participated in Stanford’s Study of Undergraduate Education from 2010 to 2012. She received the American Association of Physics Teachers 2011 Richtmyer Award for Outstanding Leadership in Physics Education. In 2014, Stanford appointed her as the Sapp Family Fellow in Undergraduate Education to honor her sustained commitment to teaching.
“I am grateful to Ann Arvin for her stellar leadership,” Moler said. “She guided the research enterprise ably through years of change and challenge, and she’s emphasized the need to think about scale and collaboration in the modern world. I’m excited to work with people throughout the research enterprise to build on her contributions and to support and advance our research contributions.”