Jeffrey F. Rhoads appointed vice president for research

Jeffrey F. (Jeff) Rhoads, a leading mechanical engineering researcher and pioneer in engineering education, has been appointed vice president for research at the University of Notre Dame by Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., University president. His appointment, effective July 1, was based on the recommendation of John T. McGreevy, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost of the University, and an eight-person search committee.

Rhoads joins Notre Dame from Purdue University, where he currently serves as executive director of the Purdue Institute for National Security and as a professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering. He previously served as the director of the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories, associate director of the Purdue Energetics Research Center and director of practice for the Mechanical Engineering Education Research Center at Purdue. He has attracted more than $75 million in sponsored research funding across his various academic roles — garnering extensive support from the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and industry.

He is also the co-founder and chief operating officer of Next Offset Solutions Inc. and Level 6 Engineering LLC, startup companies that provide engineering and technical solutions for industry and the defense, energy and national security sectors.

“The research of our faculty has been a point of emphasis and an area of remarkable growth at Notre Dame, and we are delighted to welcome Jeff Rhoads to help lead us in the next stage,” Father Jenkins said. “Jeff is an accomplished researcher and administrator, and well-suited to continue the exciting trajectory of Notre Dame research.”

As vice president for research, Rhoads will assume oversight of Notre Dame’s research infrastructure of more than 30 core facilities along with support programs for all disciplines of research, scholarship and creative endeavor. The University is one of the fastest-growing research institutions in the nation, with research award funding for fiscal year 2022 reaching $244 million. He succeeds Robert J. Bernhard, who announced in September 2021 that he would step down from his role, a position he has held since 2007.

Rhoads will also hold an appointment as a full professor in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. His research interests include dynamics and vibration, energetic materials, additive manufacturing and micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems.

“Jeff is both a visionary and a problem-solver who strongly believes in the power of research to unlock new knowledge and develop compelling solutions to real-world challenges,” McGreevy said. “He has successfully led research programs in academia and the public sector, developing crucial partnerships along the way, and he is perfectly suited to guide this next phase of the University’s research enterprise.”

Recognized extensively for excellence in his discipline and teaching, Rhoads is the recipient of the inaugural American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ C. D. Mote Jr. Early Career Award, the National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the American Society for Engineering Education’s Ferdinand P. Beer and E. Russell Johnston Jr. Outstanding New Mechanics Educator Award, as well as the Charles B. Murphy Award, Purdue’s highest undergraduate teaching honor. He holds a number of patents and is the author of more than 150 peer-reviewed publications, including a widely used undergraduate textbook.

“The growth of Notre Dame’s research portfolio, both in scale and, more importantly, global impact, over the past decade has been tremendous,” Rhoads said. “This is a true testament to the faculty, staff and students of the University, its strong leadership and its clear sense of purpose. I am truly excited, and frankly humbled, by the opportunity to work with this strong internal team, as well as our government, corporate, academic and nonprofit partners, to build upon this firm foundation. We will think big, not shy away from global challenges, and work together, across the entire breadth of the University, to make a tangible and positive difference in society.”

Rhoads is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a member of the American Society for Engineering Education and the National Defense Industrial Association. Rhoads earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a doctoral degree, each in mechanical engineering, from Michigan State University.

Contact: Joanne D. Fahey, director of research communications,, 574-631-9762

Originally published by Cidni Sanders at on January 17, 2023.