Charles Weatherford, Ph.D., a physicist who shepherded Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) venture into industrial hemp production and research, has been named vice president of the Division of Research.
“Research or extending the boundaries of knowledge is as foundational to our mission as is inspirational teaching. The combination of the two prepares our students to be change-agents and innovators and contributors to much needed advances in our society,” said President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “Dr. Weatherford’s track record as a world-class researcher, seasoned administrator, and passionate educator and mentor of students, gives us confidence that we are moving in the right direction.”
A computational atomic, molecular and plasma physicist, Weatherford has taught at FAMU since 1978. Prior to this appointment, he served as interim vice president for research and associate vice president for research. He was also interim Title III executive director and a former chairman of the Physics Department.
The Louisiana State University graduate who is credited with securing millions of research dollars has done a sabbatical at the Goddard Space Flight Center and completed summers at IBM- Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif., NASA-Goddard, NASA-Ames, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence-Livermore and Argonne national laboratories.
“I am honored and gratified by this appointment and this important opportunity to lead the FAMU Research Enterprise in this critical time in the University’s history,” said Weatherford, who is also director of the FAMU Center for Plasma Science and Technology. “Over the past number of years, the FAMU faculty has exhibited tremendous professional expertise in grant writing and research as they produce new knowledge and train our talented students to create the future for us all.”
FAMU has seen a boom in the number of grant applications for sponsored research. During the 2017-2018 fiscal year, faculty research proposals totaled $99.1 million and nearly doubling to $182.1 million during 2018-2019. Research expenditures also increased from $38 million in 2017-2018 to $49.6 million during the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
FAMU continues to break new ground in cutting-edge research areas. Recently the institution signed agreements with three firms conducting research in industrial hemp.
Weatherford said the faculty, students, staff in the Division of Research, and other elements of FAMU’s research enterprise have shown great skill and dedication as they contributed to FAMU’s rise into the Carnegie Research Level Two Classification.
“I challenge the members of the FAMU research community to move toward Carnegie Research Level One over the next five years,” Weatherford said. “It is possible, and we will all benefit—but most of all, our students will reap the rewards.”