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Grace Wang

Board of Governors

17th President of Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Grace Wang, PhD, a highly accomplished materials scientist and engineer as well as a respected educational leader, began as Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s 17th president on April 3, 2023. Known as a collaborative leader in higher education, government, and industry, Wang has excelled at building collective vision, delivering impacts, and fostering partnerships to advance education, research, and innovation.

Elected by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute(WPI) Board of Trustees after an extensive national search, Wang comes to WPI from The Ohio State University (OSU) where she served as executive vice president for research, innovation, and knowledge, and as a professor in Materials Science and Engineering. At OSU, Wang’s efforts helped expand the university’s research and innovation ecosystem, achieving $1.38 billion in annual R&D expenditures during her tenure. With a strong focus on supporting faculty, staff, and student researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs, Wang led the team to provide seed funding for curiosity-driven research; attract external funding to establish multiple large-scale, impact-driven, interdisciplinary research centers; launch campus-wide entrepreneurial activities; and enable experiential learning opportunities. Wang played a leading role in building a few large-scale, strategic university-industry partnerships, setting the vision and paving the pathways for the development of OSU’s innovation district.

Prior to OSU, Wang served a series of increasingly complex leadership roles at the State University of New York (SUNY). Wang started as vice chancellor for research and economic development at SUNY System and as a professor in Materials Design and Innovation at the flagship University at Buffalo. She was subsequently promoted to senior vice chancellor for research and economic development of the SUNY System. During this time, Wang also simultaneously served as the interim provost for the SUNY System for one academic year. For about two and half years, Wang held dual roles as the interim president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) and the senior vice chancellor for research and economic development of the SUNY System.

Wang led the SUNY research enterprise with about $1.7 billion in annual R&D expenditures, advanced the research and economic development growth strategy, and significantly expanded research capacity in key areas. She supported a purposeful focus on identifying and implementing tools and resources to improve access and affordability at scale; enabling pathways for student success and completion; and fostering a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming campus culture. At SUNY, Wang was instrumental in building large-scale university-industry partnerships to grow impact-driven research and innovation while fueling regional economic growth. Wang led SUNY Poly during the COVID-19 pandemic where she prioritized the health of the community with a hands-on, caring approach.

Before SUNY, Wang served as deputy assistant director for engineering and later as acting assistant director for engineering at the National Science Foundation (NSF) where she oversaw a funding portfolio of more than $900 million, investing in engineering research, innovation, and education.

Wang began her career at IBM/Hitachi Global Storage Technologies where she focused on research and development of thin-film magnetic recording media and carbon overcoat for data storage. She holds seven U.S. patents.

In 2022, Wang was appointed by the White House to serve on the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee. She is a council member of the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. She is also a member of the Board of Governors for the New York Academy of Sciences.

Wang earned a BS and MS in Polymer Materials from Beijing University of Chemical Technology, and a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University. In 2022, Wang received Ellen Swallow Richards Diversity Award from The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS).