Vassilis Syrmos named Vice President for Research and Innovation

University of Hawaiʻi
Kelli Abe Trifonovitch, (808) 228-8108
Dir of Communications & Outreach, University of Hawaii Innovation Initiative
Posted: Aug 22, 2013

KĀNE‘OHE (August 22, 2013) – The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Vassilis Syrmos has been appointed to serve as the first Vice President for Research and Innovation (VPRI) of the University of Hawai‘i System.   The University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents approved Syrmos’ appointment at its meeting today at Windward Community College.


UH Board of Regents Chairman John Holzman said, “The University of Hawai‘i has an important role to play in the development of Hawai‘i’s research and innovation sector.  We are pleased to have an experienced researcher and administrator in Dr. Syrmos to work with UH’s gifted faculty and the community to create jobs and build Hawaii’s research industry.”


At today’s meeting, the Board of Regents also added the word “Innovation” to the vice president’s title.  One of the new VPRI’s priorities will be to support significant growth in research through the University of Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative (HI2).  This initiative seeks to double the state’s research enterprise to $1 billion annually over the next decade.  The VPRI is also charged with critical leadership and coordination of system-wide research and innovation efforts, including management and direction of UH’s research support, technology transfer, and many compliance functions. 


University of Hawai‘i President M.R.C. Greenwood said, “We would like to thank outgoing Vice President for Research James ‘Jim’ Gaines, who is retiring at the end of this month, for 26 years of distinguished service to UH, the last 10 as Vice President.  The University of Hawai‘i has brought in more than $4 billion in extramural funding during Dr. Gaines’ tenure as Vice President for Research.  Under his watch, annual extramural funding hit an all time high of almost $500 million. I am delighted to be able to recommend Dr. Syrmos to build on that progress and advance UH research and innovation through the University of Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative.”


“I am very honored to have been selected for the position of Vice President for Research and Innovation,” said Syrmos. “Dr. Gaines has done a tremendous job in developing and facilitating system-wide research initiatives, establishing policies and procedures, and managing research administration support services; and it will definitely be a large role to fill.  I look forward to the new challenges and opportunities of the VPRI position, and am excited to be given this opportunity to empower our researchers and scholars throughout the University of Hawai‘i System.”


Syrmos’ appointment is effective on September 1, 2013 and is for two years.


Interim President – Designee David Lassner said, “Over the years, Dr. Syrmos and I have worked well together on a number of projects.  I look forward to collaborating more deeply with him, our faculty and the community to build a thriving and nimble UH research enterprise that diversifies and strengthens our economy, creates great jobs for our graduates so they can stay home, and addresses the challenges faced by our island communities throughout the State.”


Dr. Vassilis Syrmos


For the past seven years, Vassilis Syrmos has served as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.  In that capacity, he has worked on a range of projects including developing major research facilities such as the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography:  Research and Education (C-MORE Hale), the state’s only laboratory to be rated LEED Platinum.


Dr. Syrmos obtained his Ph.D. at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, U.S.A. in 1991, in Electrical Engineering. Since 1991, he has been with the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where he is a Professor. He has also served as the Associate Dean of the College of Engineering. He spent a sabbatical leave at The Boeing Company as a Research Fellow. His interests include geometric and algebraic approaches in linear system theory, computational algorithms methods for signal and image processing, robust/optimal filter design in systems, medical imaging, and prognostics and diagnostics methods related to condition based maintenance systems.


He is the author/coauthor of more than 100 journal and conference papers and the book “Optimal Control,” 2nd edition, John Wiley, 1995. He was an Associate Editor of “Circuits, Systems, and Signal Processing.”


He has served in numerous international conferences in technical program committees, editorial boards and organizing committees. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Office of Naval Research, the Naval Air Systems Command, the Naval Sea Systems Command, the Air Force Research Labs at Wright Patterson, the Army Research Labs, The Boeing Company, Hawaiian Electric Company, and Hamamatsu Photonics.


Dr. Syrmos has been a consultant for the Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), Innovative Solutions (Nova-Sol), Science Technology International and others. He is a Boeing A.D. Welliver Fellow, a member of the advisory board of Hawaii Technology Development Venture program, a member of the Sigma Xi research organization, and a senior member of IEEE.


About the Selection Process


Upon notification of the retirement of Dr. James Gaines, the University of Hawai‘i initiated a national search to fill the VPRI position, in accordance with the Executive and Managerial Personnel Policies of the Board of Regents. Dr. David Lassner, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, who is now the interim president-designee of the University of Hawai‘i, convened the Search Advisory Committee in February 2013.  The committee’s 16 members included regents, chancellors, deans, faculty members, and representatives of the APT personnel, the Research Corporation of the University of Hawai‘i (RCUH), and the community.


The committee identified five finalists, each of whom visited the University of Hawai‘i for two days of interviews and meetings, including a public forum. The committee forwarded an unranked list of recommended individuals to President M.R.C. Greenwood, with a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.  President Greenwood recommended Syrmos’ appointment after reviewing the committee’s assessments and based on her own discussions with each candidate.  The Board of Regents acted upon her recommendation at its meeting today.


About the University of Hawai‘i System


Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and College, the University of Hawai‘i System includes 10 campuses and dozens of educational, training and research centers across the state. As the sole public system of higher education in Hawai‘i, UH offers an array of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and community programs.  UH enrolls more than 60,000 students from Hawai‘i, the U.S. mainland, and around the world.  For more information, visit


About the University of Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative (HI2)


The University of Hawai‘i is working in partnership with the community to build a $1-billion annual research enterprise in Hawaii, creating thousands of jobs and a thriving economy.  More information about the University of Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative is available online at or contact Executive Director Peter Quigley or Director of Communications and Outreach Kelli Abe Trifonovitch