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Purdue Profiles: Jeff Bolin


A Purdue faculty member with past award-winning research projects, Jeff Bolin now shares the same passion for the project work of others in his role, six years and counting, in the Office of Research and Partnerships, where he is associate vice president with responsibility for research development services, research centers, and shared research facilities.

Bolin, a faculty member in biological sciences since 1986, spent his undergraduate days at Purdue in the early 1970s on a track and field athletic scholarship. After earning his PhD at the University of California at San Diego, a "really fantastic scientific project" brought Bolin, a West Lafayette native, back to his alma mater in 1982. He also serves as one the University's two faculty athletic representatives to the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA.

What are your duties as associate vice president of research?

The main purpose of our office is to support the research and scholarship and creative activities of faculty across the University. My particular role is connected to that very well because I work with a group of people to provide research development services, which includes helping people find opportunities and helping them build their proposals to secure funding.

It's a great group of really dedicated people that go above and beyond to help the faculty here on campus.

I also work with people who direct core research facilities. Those research facilities provide shared use of equipment or resources of other kinds that are available to the faculty to help them to do their experiments and complete their own research projects.

Does remembering your own research hurdles as a faculty member make you passionate about helping other projects?

I think experience as a faculty member teaches us sometimes that a little bit of help can make the difference between success and failure. Our people really enjoy when someone succeeds, whether it's their first success or when one of our distinguished professors brings in a major award of some kind. It's the same sort of sense of reward for having participated in the activity. They don't take ownership of it, but they help it happen. It's a good thing.

A lot of difficulty arises from competing priorities of a faculty member. The faculty share the three missions of the university: discovery, learning and engagement. And some of them are involved in all three very heavily. If our proposal writers can help someone develop their story and find their voice, or just take a little bit of the noncreative stuff off of their desk and put it on the desk of one of our staff, for example, it makes all the difference in the world.

It's an ever-changing landscape. That's part of what makes it enjoyable -- the problems change on a weekly basis or very, very frequently. You're not doing the same thing over and over again. There are new challenges all the time.

As a faculty member in biological sciences, are you still involved in your own research?

I went to 100 percent into this office last year. There are people that can do both things. In my case, it became very, very difficult. You have to make that tough decision. In terms of my research at the moment, I'm finishing up projects and working with data that were acquired in the recent past rather than building new pieces of information.

Past research projects by Bolin have been supported by awards from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Energy, the Exxon Corp. and the Purdue Research Foundation.

Writer: Brian L. Huchel, 765-494-2084,

Original article published in Purdue Today.

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