April 4, 2024
By Matt Golosinski

The Office for Research at Northwestern University today announced the appointment of two distinguished faculty members, Brian Mustanski and Enectali Figueroa-Feliciano, to associate vice president for research. These appointments come after a rigorous search to strengthen Northwestern’s research enterprise. The leadership roles report to Vice President for Research Eric Perreault and are tasked with advancing innovation in the social and behavioral sciences and enhancing scientific collaborations with national laboratories.  

Brian Mustanski

Mustanski, professor of medical social sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine, was named associate vice president of research focusing on social and behavioral sciences, an existing position formerly held by psychologist Emma Adam. With a distinguished career at Northwestern that began in 2011, Mustanski has demonstrated exceptional leadership and expertise in interdisciplinary research, particularly in health psychology and implementation science.

Notably, he serves as director of the Institute of Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. His pioneering work in this University-wide research hub has positioned Northwestern as a global leader in LGBTQ health research. He is also director of the NIH-funded Third Coast Center for AIDS Research and a nationally recognized expert in achieving research innovation with societal impact.

In his new role, Mustanski will spearhead initiatives to advance Northwestern’s eminence in the social and behavioral sciences and oversee University-wide research institutes and centers (URICs) such as the Institute for Policy Research and Program for African Studies. Drawing upon his extensive experience leading large scientific initiatives and securing substantial funding from federal agencies and foundations, Mustanski will work to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, promote research excellence, and address urgent societal issues. He will help bolster academic-community partnerships, enhance mentorship opportunities for faculty, and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion across all aspects of research. 

Upon his appointment, Mustanski expressed enthusiasm, stating, “It is an honor to promote and support social, behavioral, and implementation science at Northwestern. I am deeply committed to advancing research innovation with societal impact, and I look forward to leveraging our interdisciplinary strengths to address the most pressing societal challenges.” 

Figueroa-Feliciano, a professor of physics and astronomy who joined Northwestern from MIT in 2015, will serve as associate vice president of research focusing on national laboratories, a new position created to amplify Northwestern’s regional research profile further. With a distinguished career spanning over two decades, Figueroa-Feliciano brings a wealth of experience in experimental physics and collaboration with national research facilities, including NASA, Fermilab, and Argonne National Laboratory.  His new role includes overseeing Northwestern URICs with extensive partnerships with national labs, such as the Northwestern-Argonne Institute of Science and Engineering (NAISE) and the Northwestern-Fermilab Center for Applied Physics and Superconducting Technology (CAPST).  

Figueroa-Feliciano’s research focuses on physics beyond the Standard Model, quantum computing, and experimental dark matter and neutrino searches. His contributions include leading groundbreaking projects such as the 10-year, $10 million  Micro-X Sounding Rocket and the Ionization Measurement with Phonons atCryogenic Temperatures (IMPACT) experiment, which recently made a crucial finding important for dark matter searches. He is a faculty affiliate of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) and a member of the Executive Committee of the SuperCDMS experiment, an international 100-member scientific collaboration installing a dark matter detector in SNOLAB in Canada. His leadership roles at Fermilab and extensive involvement in international scientific collaborations underscore his ability to facilitate partnerships and advance research opportunities. 

In his new role, Figueroa-Feliciano will play a pivotal part in strengthening Northwestern’s relationships with national laboratories, expanding research opportunities for faculty, and fostering greater collaboration in team science. His expertise in experimental physics and quantum computing and his track record of securing significant funding for research projects promise to enhance Northwestern’s position as a scientific innovation leader. 

“I am excited to take on this new role for Northwestern and look forward to strengthening Northwestern’s collaboration with national laboratories to address high-impact research that benefits from the unique capabilities of university-national lab partnerships,” said Figueroa-Feliciano.   

Expressing his excitement about the appointments, Vice President for Research Perreault said: “I am thrilled to welcome Brian and Enectali to our leadership team. Their exceptional research accomplishments and leadership will be instrumental in advancing Northwestern’s research capacity, interdisciplinarity, and collaboration. I look forward to working closely with them towards these goals.”  

This story was originally published on Northwestern’s Office for Research Communications website.