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2017-01-27 / Top 100 People

Neil Sharkey

Vice President for Research

Penn State

Neil Sharkey was named to Penn State’s vice president for research position in April 2016. As the principal academic and administrative office for the Office of Research, Sharkey helps to advance and facilitate Penn State’s research efforts as one of the nation’s top public research universities, with research expenditures exceeding $800 million in each of the last six years.

“Penn State and, perhaps, Centre County in general, has traditionally been far too modest in publicizing its vast intellectual firepower, great local talent and superb quality of life. In the words of another university president, Penn State University is elite without being elitist.”

Since its launch in January 2015, Sharkey has been instrumental in the development of “Invent Penn State,” an initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success in Pa. He additionally oversees a research enterprise that includes a broad range of units including the Materials Research Institute, Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Social Science Research Institute and Institute for CyberScience.

Though he’s been largely successful, Sharkey emphasizes that he should have seized opportunities available to him post-high school.

“I was the proverbial late bloomer, returning to college to finish my undergraduate work in my late twenties after establishing a family and working to pay a mortgage, and then going on to grad school,” Sharkey said. “Those were sometimes tough years and, despite her being my number one fan and supporter, a huge burden for my spouse.”

He holds a B.S. in physiology and a Ph.D in comparative pathology from the University of California.

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