Campus leader named research vice president

Contact: Terry Denbow, Vice president of University Relations, (517) 355-2262,; or Sue Nichols, University Relations, 353-8942,

Jul 24, 2004

Dr. J. Ian Gray

EAST LANSING, Mich. - J. Ian Gray, a veteran at guiding research at Michigan State University, is the university's new vice president for research and graduate studies.

The appointment of Gray, who is interim vice provost and director of the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES), was approved Thursday, July 22, by the MSU Board of Trustees. Gray succeeds Robert Huggett, who was vice president since 1997.

His appointment begins Sept. 1.

"Ian Gray has a long and distinguished record of guiding a great research program here at Michigan State," said MSU President Peter McPherson. "His creativity and vision will continue to enable us to craft productive partnerships both on campus and across the world. His accomplishments as an administrator and as a scientist are impressive and we are pleased he is with us to keep the tremendous momentum MSU's research has."

In his 17-year-tenure at MAES, which encompasses the work of more than 300 scientists in five colleges at MSU, Gray has been a driving force behind the expansion of interdisciplinary research, which now is a cornerstone of MSU's vision to advance knowledge and transform lives through exploration and discovery.

"Ian Gray is a great choice to build MSU's research portfolio," said MSU President Designate and Provost Lou Anna K. Simon. "He has a tremendous network of support, not only across the university, but nationally and internationally. Michigan State is a research-intensive university with a passion for advancing knowledge and transforming lives.

"Under Ian's leadership, MSU will continue to confront some of the world's most complex and perplexing problems. We'll play a vital role in enhancing the quality of life for individuals and will continue to be a driver for the economic growth of our state and the region."

Gray, 59, a food scientist expert in the formation of toxic compounds in foods as a result of processing and cooking, came to MSU in 1978 as an assistant professor of food science and human nutrition.

In 1987, he became acting assistant director, and a year later associate director of the MAES, which generates knowledge through strategic research to enhance agriculture, natural resources, families and communities in Michigan.

In that position, his primary responsibilities included managing the multi-state research program, and developing and maintaining strong ties between MAES researchers and the state's commodity groups. He promoted multidisciplinary efforts to address problems identified in state assessments of Michigan agriculture and natural resources. He also worked to facilitate special U.S. Department of Agriculture grants on fruit quality, sustainable agriculture, and potato breeding and quality.

Gray became MAES director in 1996 and assumed the additional duties of interim vice provost in 1998 and of assistant vice president for research and graduate studies in 2000. He has expanded the mission of MAES to include more research in the social science areas and helped bring the National Food Safety and Toxicology Center to MSU.

"Not only have we maintained our commitment to the traditional charge of serving the state, but the Agricultural Experiment Station has maintained a multidisciplinary approach that has engaged many faculty that don't have traditional links," Gray said. "We've used the MAES to engage a major part of the university research machine, and that is very powerful."

"Ian Gray's 26 years of dedicated service to MSU as a research scientist and director of the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station have prepared him well for this new role," said Jeffrey Armstrong, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. "He is an effective and strategic administrator who has aggressively expanded the experiment station's research agenda across campus, particularly in the social and behavioral sciences. I am very pleased that his vision and creativity will now help inform and shape the broader research mission of the university."

Gray has been an active bench scientist with a body of research that contributes to safer, more healthful food, and also assists in developing Michigan products. He lists 170 scientific journal publications and 120 papers presented at scientific meetings. His work includes such high-profile projects as MSU's findings that show that tart cherries have healthful antioxidant properties.

Gray, a native of Northern Ireland, received his doctoral degree in food science from Queen's University in Belfast, conducted post-doctoral research at MSU and was an assistant professor of food science at University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

"It's a wonderful honor to be appointed and I look forward to the work of enhancing the research excellence at MSU and putting together a university-wide research agenda that will do justice to the research talents that exist at MSU," Gray said. "I also look forward to working closely with Graduate School Dean Karen Klomparens to make graduate research and training an even more rewarding experience for students at MSU."

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