REGINALD DESROCHES, Ph.D., F. ASCE, F. SEI, NAE
Office of the President MS-1
6100 Main Street
Houston , Texas 77005
Reginald DesRoches is Rice University’s eighth president. He also serves as a professor of civil and environmental engineering, and professor of mechanical engineering. As president, DesRoches is the chief executive officer of the university and its 8,200 plus students, eight schools and more than 900 faculty. He previously served as Rice's Howard Hughes Provost and William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering.
DesRoches’ top priorities are to enable Rice to reach a new level of distinction nationally and internationally for impactful research, award-winning scholarship and insightful creative work. He also wants to build graduate programs that are of the same distinction as Rice’s top rated undergraduate programs while maintaining Rice’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
During his tenure as provost, DesRoches led the university’s academic, research, scholarly and creative activities through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the sudden suspension of classroom instruction and Rice’s successful conversion to remote learning. In addition, he dramatically increased the university’s research awards, launched several new centers and institutes, and forged new partnerships and programs with institutions and organizations in the Houston area, including the Texas Medical Center.
Under his leadership, several new majors and professional master’s programs were launched, including a new undergraduate business major. Several new online programs were created during his time as provost as well, including the online degrees in the Jones Graduate School of Business and several online master’s degrees in the School of Engineering. During his time as provost, DesRoches made diversity, equity and inclusion a priority, establishing the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which has been instrumental in dramatically increasing the diversity of Rice’s faculty and graduate student population. He also began leading the first major expansion of the undergraduate body in over a decade.
DesRoches' tenure at Rice began in 2017, when he accepted the post as the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering at the George R. Brown School of Engineering. As the leader of Rice’s engineering school, he was in charge of nine departments, 137 faculty and 2,500 students. During his time as dean, the school dramatically increased in size and stature. It also saw a significant growth in research programs. Several key interdisciplinary initiatives were launched during DesRoches’ time as dean, some of which were neuroengineering, synthetic biology and data science.
Before his appointment at Rice, DesRoches served as chair of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. As chair, he led a major renovation of the school’s main research and teaching home, and he spearheaded a major fundraising effort for the school that doubled the number of endowed chairs and professors. During his tenure as chair, the school dramatically moved up in the U.S News & World Report graduate rankings, achieving a ranking of No. 2 in the nation — the highest in the history of the school.
DesRoches’ primary research interests are in the design of resilient infrastructure systems under extreme loads and the application of smart materials. A fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the society's Structural Engineering Institute (SEI), DesRoches served as the key technical leader in the United States’ response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, taking a team of 28 engineers, architects, city planners and social scientists to study the impact of the earthquake. He also has participated in numerous congressional briefings to underscore the critical role that university research must play in addressing the country’s failing infrastructure and enhancing the nation’s resilience to natural hazards.
A member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, DesRoches’ distinctive research record has been recognized for its impact and innovation. He received the Distinguished Arnold Kerr Lecturer Award in 2019, the John A. Blume Distinguished Lecturer Award in 2018, and the 2018 Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Distinguished Lecturer Award, one of the highest honors in the field of earthquake engineering. He also is a recipient of the 2015 ASCE Charles Martin Duke Lifeline Earthquake Engineering award, the 2007 ASCE Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize, and the Georgia Tech ANAK Award, which is the highest honor the Georgia Tech student body can bestow on a faculty member. DesRoches is a member of the Academy of Distinguished Alumni in Civil Engineering at Berkeley and was recently named an honorary alumnus of Georgia Tech.
In 2014, DesRoches became Georgia Tech’s Faculty Athletics Representative, serving as the liaison between the university and its athletics department. He worked closely with the athletic director and university leadership — including the president, provost and senior vice provost for academic affairs — to formulate policies affecting intercollegiate athletics on campus. His responsibilities also included representing the institute to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. During the 2016-2017 school year, he was appointed to the ACC leadership team as vice president of the conference.
DesRoches was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and grew up in Queens, New York. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, a Master of Science in Civil Engineering and a Doctorate in Structural Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.
He is married to Paula DesRoches, a highly accomplished healthcare professional, nurse practitioner and administrator recognized for her leadership in occupational health. The couple has three children, Andrew, Jacob and Shelby, who graduated from Rice.
I. EARNED DEGREES
|Ph.D.||1998||University of California, Berkeley||Structural Engineering|
|M.S.||1993||University of California, Berkeley||Civil Engineering|
|B.S.||1990||University of California, Berkeley||Mechanical Engineering|
Academic and Professional
|July 1, 2017-Present||Professor, Civil & Env Eng.||Rice University|
|July 1, 2017-Present||Professor, Mechanical Eng.||Rice University|
|2012-2017||Karen and John Huff Chair and Prof.||Georgia Institute of Technology|
|2011-2012||Dean’s Professor, COE||Georgia Institute of Technology|
|2008-2017||Professor||Georgia Institute of Technology|
|2006-Present||Visiting Faculty||Rose School, Pavia, Italy|
|2005-2007||Associate Professor||Georgia Institute of Technology|
|1998-2004||Assistant Professor||Georgia Institute of Technology|
|1990-1991||Structural Designer||Mobil Offshore Engineering (Dallas, TX)|
|July1, 2020-Present||Howard Hughes Provost||Rice University|
|July 1, 2017-2020||Dean of Engineering||Rice University|
|July 1, 2016-2017||Vice President, Atlantic Coast Conference|
|2014-2017||Faculty Athletic Representative||Georgia Institute of Technology|
|2012-2017||Karen and John Huff Chair and Prof.||Georgia Institute of Technology|
|2006-2012||Associate Chair for Administration||Georgia Institute of Technology|
|2004-2005||Associate Chair for Information Tech.||Georgia Institute of Technology|
III. HONORS AND AWARDS
2023 Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2021 Oregon State University Deans Distinguished Lecture
2020 Elected to National Academy of Engineering “for contributions on research and design of resilient infrastructure systems to mitigate damage from natural disasters and other extreme conditions.”
2019 Presidential Medallion from Prairie View A&M University
2019 Outstanding Paper Award (The Masonry Society)
2019 Arnold D. Kerr Distinguished Lecture (University of Delaware)
2018 John A. Blume Distinguished Lecture (Stanford University)
2018 Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) Distinguished Lecturer Award
2016 UC Davis Distinguished Lecturer –College of Engineering
2016 Selected, 1804 Haitian American Changemaker Award
2016 Elected, Fellow, Structural Engineering Institute
2015 Elected, Fellow, American Society of Civil Engineers
2015 Inducted into UC Berkeley Civil & Environmental Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni
2015 ASCE Charles Martin Duke Lifeline Earthquake Engineering Award –“For outstanding contributions to the development of new methods and approaches for seismic risk assessment of highway bridges and his leadership in lifeline earthquakeengineering research and teaching.”
2012 Georgia Engineer of the Year in Education Award (Georgia Engineering Alliance)
2011 GEM Consortium Alumnus of the Year Award
2011 Richard Carroll Memorial Lecturer, John’s Hopkins University
2010 Subaru Professor of Excellence Award
2010 John A. Blume Distinguished Lecture and Shah Family Fund Lecture, Stanford University
2010 Georgia Institute of Technology Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Advisor Award
2009 National Academy of Engineering, 1st China-America Frontiers of Engineering, Session Chair
2007 ASCE Walter L. Huber Prize - for contributions in the field of seismic design and retrofit of bridges in the central and southeastern regions of the United States.
2007 Georgia Tech ANAK Award for Outstanding Research, Teaching,and Service.Awarded to onefaculty member at Georgia Tech who hasdemonstrated outstanding service to the Institute and to the student body through teaching, research, advisement, and general involvement in campus life
2004 National Academy of Engineering, US-Germany Frontiers of Engineering Invitee
2002 National Academy of Engineering, Frontiers of Engineering Invitee
2002 Presidential Early Career Awardfor Scientist and Engineers (PECASE)
2001 National Science Foundation CAREER Award
2001School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Outstanding Teacher Award
IV. NATIONAL LEADERSHIP AND PROFESSIONAL SERVICE (Since 2017)
Chair of Advisory Committee, National Institute of Standards and Technology National Construction Safety Team (NCST) (Washington, DC, 2020-Present)
The NCST Advisory Committee advises NIST on carrying out investigations of building failures conducted under the authorities of the NCST Act. Members are selected based on their technical expertise and experience, established records of distinguished professional service and their knowledge of issues affecting NIST studies.The NCST is modeled after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for investigating transportation accidents. The Chair of the NCST advisory committee,on January 1 of each year, shall transmit to the Committee on Science, Space and Technology of the House of Representatives and to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation of the Senate a report that includes: (1) An evaluation of Team activities, along with recommendations to improve the operation and effectiveness of Teams and (2) An assessment of the implementation of the recommendations of Teams and of the advisory committee. It was recently announced that NIST will oversee the technical investigation into the collapse of the Champlain Towers south condominium in Surfside,Fla.
Seismic Advisory Board, California Department of Transportation (2021-Present)
The Seismic Advisory Board was created as are commendation ofthe Governor’s Board of Inquiry following the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake to provide advice on seismic safety policy as it applies to the design of transportation structures in California.The Seismic Advisory Board consists of a maximum of eight members appointedby the Director of Caltrans to assure balanced representation among pre-eminent scientists, engineers, researchers and policy experts assembled from both the private and public sector.
Board of Directors, Brandywine Realty Trust (2021-Present)
Brandywine is one of the leading Real Estate companies with over 24 million square feet and a total market capitalization of $6 billion. Brandywine has forged into new markets, built second skylines and created more resilient communities.The robust internal infrastructure includes Asset Management, Development, Construction,Investments, Leasing, Marketing, Property Management and Construction Accounting services, ensuring a seamless experience with streamlined processes, clear channels of communication and a cohesive vision.
Chief Academic Officer Steering Committee, Association of American Universities (2021-Present)
The steering committee will include 12 provosts (Chief Academic Officers) from AAU institutions who will help the AAU formulate aproactive approach to convene and share practices and policies among AAU Schools.
Advisory Board, IBM-HBCU Quantum Center (Washington, D.C., 2020-Present)
The mission of the centeristo reach, inspireand empower young Black talent and the communities that support them to lead in the next generation of quantum innovation. The program provides access to quantum computerson the IBM cloud, educational support for learning quantum computation and faculty and student support for quantum research.
Chair of Advisory Board, NEHRI SimCenter (Berkeley, CA., 2018-Present)
The Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) program, funded by the National Science Foundation, catalyzes advances in natural hazards engineering research. The SimCenter contributes to this vision by transforming the application of numerical modeling and simulation within the field. The SimCenter lays the groundwork for a data-enabled cyberinfrastructure that will move from an environment of disjointed and often single-science, deterministic simulations to a collaborative one that bridges diverse scientific communities and integrates high-performance computing, data, software and experimental facilities. The project aims to enable researchers to tackle problems of unprecedented scale and complexity, and to prepare anew cohort of natural hazard engineers to address and lead efforts to make society more resilient to natural hazards.
Advisory Committee, National Science Foundation, Directorate for Engineering (ENG), (2015-2017)
The Directorate for Engineering Advisory Committee (AdCom) advises the Directorate for Engineering (ENG) on such issues asthe mission, programs and goals for NSF;important issues in institutional administration and policy;how the directorate can promote quality graduate and undergraduate education;and priority investment areas in engineering research.
Member, National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Resilient America Roundtable (2014-2019)
Resilient America engages with the academic, public and private sectors at the national and local level to increase the understanding of complex risks and extreme events in a changing environment and the exposure of communities, infrastructure and natural systems to these threats;to investigate and strengthen attributes of equitable,resilient systems and communities, their inter connections and interdependencies;test, communicate and strengthen the implementation of equitable strategies for adapting to changing risks and robust recovery from disruptions.
Member, National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Board on Army Science and Technology, (2015-2018)
The Board on Army Science and Technology (BAST) serves as a convening authority for the discussion of science and technology issues of importance to the U.S. Army and formulates independent Army-related studies conducted by the National Academies.
V. LOCAL LEADERSHP AND PROFESSIONAL SERVICE (Since 2017)
Project Director, NSF Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate Program (AGEP) – Strengthening Training and Resources for Inclusion in Data Engineering and Sciences (STRIDES) (2019-Present, Rice University).
I currently serve as the Director and Principal Investigator on a $2.66M program between Rice, the University of Houston and Texas Southern University to increase the number of underrepresented minority students —namely Black,Native Americanand Latino students—working toward academic careers in engineering and science.
Scientific Advisory Board Member, Haliburton Labs Clean Energy Accelerator (Houston, TX, 2020-Present)
Halliburton Labs is a collaborative environment where entrepreneurs, academics, investors and industrial labs join to advance cleaner, affordable energy. Located at Halliburton Company’s headquarters in Houston, Halliburton Labs provides access to world-class facilities,operational expertise, practical mentorship and financing opportunities in a single location to help clean energy startups.
Advisory Board Member, HTX Impact Fund (Houston, TX, 2020-Present)
HTX Impact Fund, started in Fall 2020, is a venture fund focused on diverse start-ups.As a member of the board, I advise on strategy and engagement with the Houston Universities ecosystem. The goal of the HTX Impact fund is to help hundreds of additional startup founders who are people of color grow their own companies—creating jobs and greatly expanding economic mobility.
Member of President’s Advisory Council Prairie View A&M, (Prairie View, TX,2018-Present)
The Prairie View A&M President’s Advisory Council (PAC) is comprised of individuals whose expertise can be utilized to assist in addressing the opportunities and dilemmas that face Prairie View A&M University. PAC members are experts in their respective fields and exemplars to the PV community and as such, are a reservoir of knowledge that can be relied upon.
Board of Trustees, Saint Francis High School (Houston, 2021-Present)
St. Francis Episcopal School provides education from pre-primary through twelth grade.In their time here, children advance through critical stages in the development of language, attention span, social skills, and problem-solving capabilities. They build study habits, self-discipline, and strengths in abstract thinking. They internalize values that will always stay with them and graduate as poised, confident young leaders.
Advisory Board,Technology Collaboration Center (Houston, TX, 2020-Present)
The Technology Collaboration Center is a Houston-based independent non-profit formed asa partnership between the NASA Johnson Space Center, industryand universities, solving challenging technologyproblems through innovative solutions by connecting collaboration partners from acrosstechnology sectors.