Leland accepts permanent role as UDRI vice president

By: Rachel Cain – News Editor

John Leland stepped into his new role as the permanent vice president for research of the University of Dayton Research Institute July 1.

John Leland, UDRI vice president for research
John Leland, UDRI vice president for research

“John has been an excellent strategic leader and collaborator and integral to the institute’s outstanding growth,” University President Daniel Curran said, according to a UD news release.

“He is well-respected in the public and private sectors. His work at all governmental levels and with our corporate partners has advanced the research and economic development priorities for our nation and region.”

Leland became the interim vice president for research last September after Mickey McCabe, the previous vice president, joined the University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute as executive director.

As vice president for research, Leland serves as chief research officer and also oversees the strategic direction of UDRI.

Leland began working with UDRI in 2000 and has been the director of UDRI since September 2005.

Leland’s past work with UDRI includes his instrumental participation in developing the GE Aviation EPISCenter on campus, a lab in which UD students and researchers work alongside GE Aviation scientists and engineers to create new advanced electrical power technologies. He also helped UDRI obtain $7.6 million in state support for the $51 million project.

“John has demonstrated strong commitment to strengthening and strategically focusing research resources and infrastructure to generate high-quality research at the University,” Paul Benson, interim provost, said, according to the news release. “I look forward to working with him and the deans to elevate academic research and scholarship, as well as promote increased collaborations among faculty and institute researchers.”

Before joining UDRI, Leland worked in the office of former US Rep. Tony Hall as a congressional science fellow. In that capacity he contributed to policy discussions regarding science and engineering education and research funding. Today, Leland continues to prepare and present testimony to House and Senate Congressional committees on these topics.

Leland holds eight patents on heat exchanger and miniature heat pipe innovations and has won two technology transfer awards.

He worked for the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a researcher for 16 years.
According to UDRI’s website, the institute’s mission is “to propose and perform sponsored research that not only satisfies customer needs by providing innovative solutions through quality research and advanced technology, but also contributes to the fulfillment of the University’s education, research and public service commitments through the involvement of students, faculty and external partners.”

UDRI expects to exceed $97 million in revenues during fiscal year 2015, an 11 percent increase over last year, and is currently under contract for more than $500 million.

UDRI was founded in 1956 and today, more than fifty years later, has a staff of 450. That staff includes the more than 90 faculty members who are engaged in sponsored research programs and the approximately 250 undergraduate and graduate students who work for UDRI.

“I’ve had a great experience working at UDRI,” Darren Landoll, a graduate student in computer science said in an email interview. “The opportunities available to expand my professional expertise and career growth are very exciting.”

Landoll is the project technical lead/architect for UDRI’s $250,000 contract with Advanced Industrial Measurement Systems to develop high-tech solutions for coordinate measurement machines.

Kevin Klawon, senior software architect and group leader of software solutions at UDRI, explained that graduate and undergraduate students working paid positions at UDRI have the opportunity to do engineering work for prominent companies such as LexisNexis or GE.

“UD students will come in and help us with the real work,” Klawon said. “So when they graduate, not only are they going to have a degree from UD, but they’ll also have hundreds of hours of actual, real software engineering.”