Rick Tankersley Headshot Image

Rick Tankersley

Member, E4 Carolinas Board of Directors Interim Vice Chancellor for Research & Graduate Education,

Richard (Rick) Tankersley assumed the roles of Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development and Executive Director of the Charlotte Research Institute (CRI) in May 2018.  He oversees the research enterprise for the University and leads a team tasked with promoting disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and developing strategic partnerships aimed at growing the university’s research portfolio and infrastructure.  He is committed to strengthening the roles of research, scholarship, and creative activity across the University, rewarding research excellence, and promoting economic development and community engagement. During his time at UNC Charlotte, he has helped lead several campus-wide initiatives, including Catalyst, a professional development and mentoring program aimed at helping faculty successfully apply for research grants from state and federal agencies, foundations, and nonprofits.

Prior to joining UNC Charlotte in 2016 as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Tankersley spent four years as a Program Director at National Science Foundation (NSF).  While at NSF, he led several interdisciplinary, cross-Foundation programs, including the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) program, the Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE) program, and the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program.

Tankersley has been a faculty member, administrator, and researcher for more than 25 years, holding positions at Gonzaga University, the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the Florida Institute of Technology.  His research interests include invertebrate behavior and physiology, larval ecology, global change biology, ocean acidification, and science communication. As an advocate and ambassador for STEM education and effective science communication, he helped direct Florida’s Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE Florida) and serves as the principal investigator for the NSF Graduate Institutes for Science Communication and Engagement.

Tankersley earned his PhD in Biology from Wake Forest University.  He also holds a Master of Science in Marine Biology from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Wake Forest University.


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