Maria Zuber becomes Presidential Advisor; Search for Vice Provost of Research Begins

Kornbluth: Zuber is “a perfect match for the challenge”

In an email to the MIT Community, President Kornbluth announced that Maria Zuber, Professor of Geophysics, will become MIT’s Presidential Advisor for Science and Technology Policy. Zuber is currently Vice President for research at MIT, with previous roles as the department Head for Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences as well as a stint at NASA.

Kornbluth wrote that Zuber was “a perfect match for the challenge.” Zuber has led MIT’s climate change strategy, which includes MIT’s Climate Action Plan published in 2021. Amongst her other services to MIT, Zuber has also served as a founding member of the Senior Risk Group (SRG) and helped “institute a systematic, MIT-wide approach to international engagements that present elevated risk.” Outside of MIT, Zuber has served four US presidents, and according to Kornbluth, has played “an increasingly influential role in shaping national science policy” as a past member of the National Science Board and current co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. 

Kornbluth stated that Zuber will be focused on “tracking trends and seizing opportunities to inform and advance enlightened state and federal policy.” Zuber will remain on the Academic Council and the SRG, and will continue to advise affiliated centers connected to national security or defense. Furthermore, Zuber will continue “developing and strengthening federal, state and NGO research partnerships” in conjunction with the MIT Washington Office.

In her statement, Kornbluth added that a search for the Senior Vice Provost for Research would begin, reporting to the Provost. Kornbluth intends to tap a “senior faculty member” for this position. Provost Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88 will conduct the official search process. 

Kornbluth wrote that the change in administration reporting structure was in response to concerns heard during the listening tour, principally that of the need to “move decisively to reduce the burden and strain of research administration.” Kornbluth believes that the Vice Provost role is “purpose-built for this assignment.”