Richard (Rick) Tankersley is the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. As the chief research officer, he oversees all aspects of the university’s research enterprise and leads a team tasked with promoting disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and developing strategic partnerships aimed at growing the university’s research portfolio and infrastructure. He directly manages units responsible for sponsored projects, research administration and regulatory compliance, technology commercialization, entrepreneurship, innovation, and business incubation and acceleration, as well as several interdisciplinary research centers and institutes.
Dr. Tankersley is committed to strengthening the role of research, creative expression, and translation across the university, rewarding research excellence, and promoting economic development and community engagement. During his first year as vice chancellor, Dr. Tankersley has led efforts to position Research and Economic Development as a forward-looking organization that provides support and strategic direction to enhance and accelerate UNC Charlotte’s extramural research growth. He has launched several new initiatives aimed at increasing research productivity and building interdisciplinary research programs, including a new Center for Research Excellence that manages a campus-wide professional development and mentoring program (Catalyst) designed to help faculty successfully attract external support for research from federal and other government sources, industry, and private foundations. He also formed the new Office of Industry and Government Partnerships to serve as the university’s central portal for the creation of collaborative research relationships with corporations, small businesses and start-ups, and the full spectrum of government agencies.
In January 2020, Dr. Tankersley was appointed by Governor Roy Cooper to the North Carolina Board of Science, Technology, and Innovation. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance and serves as a board member for E4 Carolinas, the North Carolina Science Festival, and Ventureprise, Inc.
Prior to his appointment as vice chancellor in May 2019, Dr. Tankersley served as associate dean for research and graduate education in the University’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. He joined UNC Charlotte in 2016 from the National Science Foundation, where he led several interdisciplinary, cross-Foundation programs, including the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) program, the Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE) program, and the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program.
As a faculty member he was active in teaching, research, and service, holding positions at Gonzaga University, the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the Florida Institute of Technology. Dr. Tankersley earned his Ph.D. in Biology from Wake Forest University. He also holds a Master of Science in Marine Biology from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Wake Forest University.