Vice Provost for Research Harry C. Dudley Professor of Structural and Economic Geology Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering
In his role as Vice Provost for Research, John H. Shaw works to support the research enterprise of the University, including its twelve schools and fifteen practicing hospitals. He helps to advance Harvard’s research mission through coordination and collaboration across the University and beyond, enabling foundational and transformative research and developing core research support. He also helps the University navigate the federal regulatory landscape for research funding received by Harvard (totaling nearly $1 billion annually) and associated compliance requirements.
John also serves as the Harry C. Dudley Professor of Structural and Economic Geology in the Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) Department, and Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering in the Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). He is a structural geologist and applied geophysicist who investigates the nature of faulting in the earth’s crust, with applications to earthquake science. His research is also focused on energy systems and carbon storage, and the environmental impacts of these activities. Shaw offers courses on these topics through the General Education Program, EPS, and SEAS.
Shaw served as chair of the EPS Department for thirteen years, supporting faculty, affiliated scientists, students, and staff. Activities in this role included strategic planning, faculty hiring and evaluation; oversight of student academic programs; fiscal management and planning; research compliance; fundraising; alumni relations; diversity and inclusion initiatives; and oversight of lab renovations and building operations. Shaw has served on several School- and University-level committees focused on professional conduct and research policy. He also served as the Chair of the Board of the Southern California Earthquake Center, an international research organization involving more than 90 institutions with federal and private sector funding sources. He is also co-founder of Seismix Reservoir Management, LLC, a firm that helps to assess environmental hazards of energy-related operations for companies, regulatory groups, and others.
M. William Lensch, Ph.D., is Associate Provost for Research. In this role, he works closely with the Vice Provost for Research (VPR) to support Harvard’s rich and complex, investigator-driven enterprise. His experience in research, education, administration, science policy, intellectual property, consulting and outreach combine in support of scientific discovery. He oversees a variety of strategic initiatives and develops key relationships – both within and beyond Harvard – to advance this research agenda including the many Interfaculty Initiatives (IFI) and cross-school curricular programs.
Prior to assuming his current role, Dr. Lensch was Strategic Advisor to the Dean of Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Consortium on Pandemic Readiness (MassCPR), an HMS-led, multi-institutional response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. He has additionally served the Harvard community as Chief of Staff to the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Executive Director of the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (SCRB), Faculty Director of Education for the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), and as Instructor in Pediatrics at HMS/Boston Children’s Hospital.
He has contributed to more than 60 peer-reviewed articles, reviews, book chapters and policy recommendations, and presented over 200 lectures, medical grand rounds, interviews and panel discussions.
Dr. Lensch earned his B.S. in Biology from Utah State University and his Ph.D. in the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics at Oregon Health Sciences University, where he studied pediatric bone marrow failure, the onset of myeloid leukemia and rare diseases of the blood. His post-doctoral work at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and as a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Career-Development Fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital used various types of human cells and tissue as platforms for understanding the genetics, development and diseases of the blood-forming system.
Ara Tahmassian, Ph.D., is currently the Interim Vice Provost for Research and Harvard University’s Chief Research Compliance Officer. In this role he is broadly responsible for the overall effort to manage potential risks at the University by integrating and coordinating the significant compliance requirements across the University. He is responsible for the oversight of the review, development, and implementation of policies related to research compliance activities across the University and management of University-wide Institutional Committees. He is also the Project Director for a Department of State Funded program for “Building University Capacity in Responsible Science for Broader Middle East and North Africa.”
Prior to Harvard University, Dr. Tahmassian was the Associate Vice President for Research Compliance at Boston University and Boston Medical Center, where he also served as the Principal Investigator for the core BSL-3 select agent laboratory and as one of the Associate Directors of the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) at the BU Medical Campus.
He also served as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at University of California San Francisco in until his retirement in October 2006.
He has extensive experience in research compliance topics including Institutional Review Board; Environmental Health and Safety; Institutional Biosafety, Radiation Safety and Laboratory Safety; Dual User Research of Concern (DURC) oversight; Research Occupational Health Program; Animal Care and Use Programs; Financial Conflict of Interest; Responsible Conduct of Research and Sponsored Research Programs.
Dr. Tahmassian holds a B.Sc. in nuclear engineering and a Ph.D. in radiobiology from Queen Mary College, London University, and is a Diplomat of the American Board of Sciences in Nuclear Medicine. He serves on a number of national and international scientific and professional organizations.