Published 1/25/22 on UMB News
Gregory F. Ball, PhD, can do it all. As a world-renowned researcher and an inspired academic leader with a track record of institutional and student success he’s well prepared to lead the large interdisciplinary research programs, technology commercialization, innovation, and economic development efforts of two of Maryland’s academic research powerhouses.
That’s why he was recently appointed as the next Vice President for Research (VPR) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP). In his new role, Ball will oversee the joint research enterprise at the two campuses, a collaboration that garners a combined $1.3 billion in research awards annually.
For the past seven years, Ball has served as dean of UMCP’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences–a large and academically complex college with more than 5,000 undergraduate students and more than 800 masters and doctoral students across 10 departments and multiple centers.
“Dr. Ball’s exemplary leadership record combined with a commitment to interdisciplinary research, scientific standards and diversity in education make him an ideal choice to keep us on our upward trajectory in world-leading research and innovation,” said College Park President Darryll J. Pines, PhD, MS.
During his tenure as dean, Ball prioritized diversity and inclusion in faculty and staff hiring. He also focused on modernizing research training and expanding experiential learning opportunities and career preparation services for all students in the college.
“We know that being prepared for the future requires a strong focus on innovation and discovery now,” said Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, president of UMB. “Our joint research enterprise brings together scientists and researchers across disciplines to advance discoveries, and I’m confident in Dr. Ball’s leadership of this powerful research enterprise.”
Throughout his deanship, Ball maintained an active research lab in the Department of Psychology. His research examines seasonal changes in the brains and behavior of songbirds in order to understand how hormones and external natural forces affect behavior. A highly accomplished scientist, Dr. Ball has amassed more than 200 research publications and continues to receive research grant support from the National Institutes of Health.
“I am tremendously honored and excited for this opportunity to lead our joint research enterprise, which continues to set an outstanding example nationally and internationally for how public research institutions can transform society and address the grand challenges of our time,” Dr. Ball said. “I’m thrilled to work with the stellar faculty in both College Park and Baltimore to build upon the momentum created by my predecessors.”
Dr. Ball will serve a three-year appointment and start his new position on February 1. He takes over the role from Amitabh Varshney, PhD, MS, who served as interim vice president after Laurie Locasio, PhD, MSc, who served in the position for four years, was nominated by President Joseph Biden to be Under Secretary for Standards and Technology in the Department of Commerce.
Before joining UMCP, Dr. Ball was vice dean for science and research infrastructure in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University (JHU), and also served as director of the school’s undergraduate neuroscience program. He was a faculty member in the JHU Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences for 23 years. He earned a B.A. in psychology from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in psychobiology from the Institute of Animal Behavior at Rutgers University.