Harris Search Associates completes Executive Director Defense Related Research Units/Director of Applied Research Lab search at The Pennsylvania State University.

Dublin, Ohio based Harris Search Associates has completed the search for the next Executive Director Defense Related Research Units/Director of Applied Research Lab at The Pennsylvania State University.


Paul E. Sullivan, U.S. Navy vice admiral (retired), has been named executive director of Penn State's Defense Related Research Units (DRRU) and Applied Research Laboratory (ARL), effective Sept. 1. He replaces Edward Liska, who retired July 1 and has agreed to stay during the transition period.

As director of DRRU, Sullivan will oversee and coordinate the research activities of both ARL and Penn State's Electro-Optics Center, representing roughly 1,200 research faculty, engineers, support staff and students and about $175 million in annual contract research. Sullivan also will oversee ARL's field offices in Warminster, Pa.; Keyport, Wash.; and Washington, D.C.

"Paul has an exemplary record of achievement in Naval engineering, business and organizational leadership. He brings a wealth of pertinent experience to the position and we are confident that he will provide strong and effective leadership to one of the nation's most valuable defense-related research units," said Neil Sharkey, interim vice president for Research at Penn State.

Currently, Sullivan is vice president, American Centrifuge and chief engineer at USEC Inc., a global energy company employing more than 800 people and based in Bethesda, MD. Sullivan's Naval appointments include Commander Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) as a vice admiral; deputy commander for Ship Design, Integration and Engineering at NAVSEA, which designs, builds, delivers and maintains ships and systems for the U.S. Navy; and program manager for both the VIRGINIA Class and SEAWOLF Class Submarine Programs.

"I have been associated with the fine work of ARL for almost two decades, as a customer and as a member of its Board of Advisers. This institution is my personal benchmark for excellence in delivering superior technology to the Navy at a very reasonable cost," Sullivan said. "I view the director position as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to continue serving the Navy and the country."

Sullivan earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1974, and his ocean engineer degree and a master's degree in naval architecture and marine engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1980. He taught courses at MIT as an associate professor of naval architecture, and continues teaching in the logistics and program management fields at the Institute for Defense and Business at Chapel Hill, N.C.

He has served on Penn State's ARL Board of Advisers since 2009 and also has served on similar boards at George Mason University and MIT, among others. He is the author of several publications, including "Naval Ship Design and Construction – Topics for the Research and Development Community," a special report for the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Naval Engineering in the 21st Century.

Sullivan has earned several awards and honors throughout his career, including the Distinguished Service Medal and the National Naval Officers Association Diversity Achievement Award, both in 2008, and the National Defense Industrial Association Undersea Warfare Division VADM Charles E. Weakley Award for meritorious service in 2012.

Harris Search Associates - an IIC Partners member firm, is a leading global executive search and board advisory consulting firm with 47 offices in 34 countries worldwide. Our practice is focused on identifying and attracting leaders to support the growth of clients in the areas of research, science, engineering, academic medicine and commercial enterprises. Clients include the foremost universities, research parks, institutes, academic medical centers and commercial organizations driving global innovation and discovery.   

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