After three years of spearheading efforts to secure grants for students and faculty members, Frank Ewers is leaving his post as associate vice president for research and returning to lead classes in the biological sciences department.
As the associate vice president for research, Ewers has strived to strengthen and promote the engagement of faculty members and students in research and scholarly activities across university departments.
He also oversees the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, which has received nearly $40 million in grants during his tenure to fund activities ranging from faculty research, student research and attendance at academic conferences to faculty development.
Despite the satisfaction that Ewers has received in his role, the tug to return to the classroom was too great for him to ignore.
“When I arrived at Cal Poly Pomona in 2007 as the chair of the biological sciences department, that was quite a challenge. Becoming the associate vice president of research four years later also was a big challenge,” Ewers says. “But now I’m ready to return to the classroom. I miss the direct contact and the interaction with students.”
Ewers cited the establishment of the annual Cal Poly Pomona Student Research Conference, which allows undergraduate and graduate students to share original research and scholarly activities, and the Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Grant program, designed to promote academic initiatives involving at least two departments and a college, as two of his proudest and biggest accomplishments.
He also laid the groundwork for the Technology Transfer/Industry Clinic Office, which helps the campus community file for patents and turn those ideas into potential commercial ventures. The office is awaiting provisional patents on nine engineering and science techniques and devices.
In addition, Ewers helped to launch the Office of Undergraduate of Research in fall 2013 to increase undergraduate student participation in research programs with faculty mentors.
“It has been a privilege and a pleasure for me to work with Dr. Ewers, as department chair and more recently as AVP for Research,” says Marten denBoer, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “He has much to be proud of. With the support of his office, research and scholarship has improved across the university. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I thank him for his good work and wish him every success as he returns to his successful teaching and research programs.”
Before arriving at Cal Poly Pomona, Ewers was a faculty member for more than 22 years at Michigan State University, where he taught in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology. He also served as the interim chair of the Department of Plant Biology.
Ewers completed his undergraduate studies at University of Wisconsin, Madison, and received his doctoral degree in botany from the University of California, Berkeley. He also lectured at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and completed research work at the Fairchild Tropical Garden in Miami and at the UC Berkeley Herbarium.
Ewers has authored 86 peer-reviewed journal articles and 10 book chapters in his career. Another journal article for Frontiers in Plant Science and a chapter in the book “Functional and Ecological Xylem Anatomy” are slated for release in 2015.
Ewers plans to continue in his role through the end of the winter quarter, when a candidate search is completed and a successor is expected to be chosen.
“There’s a tradeoff between leading programs that help many faculty and students versus being in the classroom and doing your own research programs,” Ewers says. “But both are rewarding.”