Jay Walsh became the University of Illinois’ Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation on May 16, 2020, after more than 30 years as a faculty member and administrator at Northwestern University. Most recently, he was Northwestern’s Senior Advisor to the President for Research and Science. Dr. Walsh was Northwestern University's Vice President for Research from 2007 until 2019. During his tenure, the University’s external sponsored awards grew 91% from $417M in 2007 to $798M in 2019. As the VP for Research, Dr. Walsh oversaw an infrastructure and annual budget that supported research across not only the STEM fields but also the social sciences, arts, and humanities. Northwestern saw a 134% increase in industry funding for research during Dr. Walsh’s time as the University’s VP for Research. Under his leadership, the Office for Research made significant contributions to the development and support of Northwestern's core research facilities and the number of institutes and centers grew from less than 20 to more than 50 – each with significant external funding. Additionally, he championed global impact programs, such as the Mandela Washington Fellowship-Young African Leadership Initiative and the program on Equality Development and Global Studies, as well as local programs that impact K-12 students in Evanston and Chicago, for example, at Lakeview and Mather High Schools in Chicago and through Science Club at the Girls and Boys Clubs of Chicago.
Dr. Walsh currently serves on the Board of Directors at MxD, the Board of Governors at Argonne National Laboratory, the Board of Directors for Current, the MIT Corporation Visiting Committee for Sponsored Research, the Board of Visitors for Vanderbilt’s Engineering School, and the Board of Directors for the University Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP). He currently chairs the Board of the Chicago Council on Science and Technology, a Chicago-based science communications group driven by participation from major academic, hospital, museum, and industrial organizations in Chicago. Previously, Dr. Walsh served on the Board of Directors at Fermi National Laboratory, the Illinois Governor’s Innovation Council, the Naval Research Advisory Committee, and the U.S. Secretary of Navy Advisory Panel.
Dr. Walsh earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and his Ph.D. degree in Medical Engineering from a joint Harvard Medical School – MIT program. Dr. Walsh's research on laser-tissue interactions framed the understanding of laser ablation of biological tissue which help to lay the scientific foundation for many of today's standard laser-based procedures in medicine and surgery. More recently, his research focused on the diagnostic and therapeutic applications of light. In 1997, at Northwestern, he was recognized as the Engineering School’s Teacher of the Year, and in 2005, he was selected as the Advisor of the Year.