Chemist Ott to Lead Core Facilities

By Roger AndersonFebruary 13, 2017

Northwestern has named Andrew Ott, chemistry, as its new director of Core Facilities, effective April 1.

Ott will continue in his role as director of the Integrated Molecular Structure Education and Research Center (IMSERC), splitting his time equally as director of Northwestern’s more than 45 Core Facilities.

“Andy’s record of success in running IMSERC demonstrates that he is ready to take on the additional responsibility of leading Northwestern’s Cores now and into the future,” says Phil Hockberger, assistant vice president for research, who has been responsible for oversight of Core Facilities since 2009. “During the past decade, IMSERC has evolved from a relatively small operation into one of the University’s largest and most impressive facilities. A big part of that transformation is attributable to Andy’s leadership.”

Core Facilities play a pivotal role in Northwestern’s research infrastructure by providing laboratory space, instrumentation, and technical support that investigators rely on to push forward pathbreaking discoveries.

As director of IMSERC since 2006, Ott oversaw a doubling of revenue and quadrupling of utilization. The facility, which resides in a new $18 million space in the Technological Institute, features eight nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, nine mass spectrometers, four x-ray diffractometers, and numerous smaller instruments. Those tools are used to conduct a range of chemical analysis including qualitative composition determination and molecular structure determination.

“I have always enjoyed working as part of large interdisciplinary teams to attack important and difficult scientific problems,” says Ott, who worked for semiconductor manufacturing company Intel prior to joining the University. “My time at Intel and at Northwestern has taught me that I can accomplish more in a supportive role as part of a larger organization than I ever could on my own.”

A trained chemist and engineer, Ott has worked on chemical vapor deposition and the fabrication of semiconductor devices, and has been a leading contributor on nearly two dozen publications and 10 patents.

“I hope that my enthusiasm and years of expertise will lower technical barriers for faculty who want to enter new research fields.  Coming from my current position as a Core director, I am well positioned to build on the existing support structure that has enabled Core directors and staff to make very difficult experiments seem routine,” says Ott.

Ott’s new responsibilities as director of Core Facilities include: managing the Office for Research biannual equipment competition; evaluating annual reports and operating support requests from Core Facilities; providing feedback on annual reports and selection of awardees; managing program review of Core Facilities; leading quarterly meetings of the Core Facilities Advisory Board; and supervising Core Facility administration staff.