Dr. Kelly A. Rusch
Vice President for Research and Creative Activity (RCA)
Under Dr. Rusch’s leadership and guidance, the research activities at NDSU have evolved from the era of federal earmarks funding to the current environment of merit-based proposal awards. Despite this challenging researching funding evolution, during her tenure, NDSU R&D expenditures have grown from $134 million in FY2011 to $156 million in FY2017.
To support this new environment, the Office of Research and Creative Activity has launched a number of initiatives targeted at improving the research proposal process and management. One key initiative is the Electronic Research Administration tool, to be launched in 2018, that will simplify the proposal submission process for faculty and staff.
Dr. Rusch has developed a Research Development team that offers services to the institution including proposal support, new faculty programs, seed funding, the development of NDSU Grand Challenges, undergraduate research support through events such as NDSU Explore, electronic research administration, and federal agency and grant writing workshops.
To ensure that proposals are not rejected due to simple, non-compliance errors, Dr. Rusch has strengthened research integrity and compliance by adding export control services and assisting researchers in identifying potential conflict of interests that could threaten ongoing projects.
Given that research has an important tie to industry, Dr. Rusch has re-organized and streamlined the Office of Technology Transfer. NDSU is now offering intellectual property rights to sponsored research, with students owning a portion of their invention as well. By creating this new dialog with the business community, Dr. Rusch has opened up opportunities for researchers and the institution overall.
Dr. Rusch has implemented a new Research Operations program to ensure that equipment is available to both internal and external researchers. Included on this team is the Unmanned Aircraft System management and there are plans to add biosciences capabilities as well.
Since the late 2010 moratorium on federal earmarks, acquiring funds for research has required a strategic change in approach. Dr. Rusch’s work and connections with members of government to insert programmatic requests at the federal level have allowed NDSU to mine for new opportunities.
NDSU’s Center for Computational Assisted Science and Technology (CCAST) has grown during the past four years. The Center has taken a regional leadership position in high performance computing services through membership in national distribution groups Open Science Grid (OSG) and Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE); the addition of new capabilities through technology upgrades; and the implementation a staff of professional and student technicians.
In 1993, Dr. Rusch joined the Louisiana State University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty and focused on microorganism system design, development and modeling, and engineering education. She led a research group focused on microalgae-cyanobacteria for biofuels and bioproducts production, which was recognized by the Aquacultural Engineering Society Superior Paper Award and through two pending patents.
While at Louisiana State University, she secured more than $15 million in research grant funding as a principal or co-principal investigator. She served in numerous leadership positions, including associate dean of the College of Engineering, interim chair of the Department of Construction Management and Industrial Engineering, co-chair of Louisiana State’s Commission on the Status of Women and founder and director of the Institute for Ecological Infrastructure Engineering. She has been a technical consultant on topics including aquacultural engineering, microalgae and zooplankton system design and operation since 1997. She is a registered professional engineer in Louisiana.
Dr. Rusch is on the board of directors of and past president of, the Aquacultural Engineering Society, an international professional organization that supports the advancement of the global aquaculture community. She was a founding member of the Women in Engineering Leadership Institute, which was formed to support the advancement of women faculty into leadership positions. Dr. Rusch has more than 120 refereed articles and technical papers and reports. She has presented more than 165 conference and invited talks and lectures on scientific and educational topics.
Dr. Rusch earned her bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and her master's degree and doctorate in civil engineering with emphasis on environmental engineering at Louisiana State University.