In her role, Espy will oversee the university’s research enterprise, where she will focus on building upon the UA’s successful relationships with government and business entities, as well as with other research institutions.
“I am so glad that Dr. Espy will be joining our campus community. The UA’s research enterprise is a critical part of the long-term goals set out in our Never Settle academic and business plan, and Dr. Espy’s expertise and experience will make her an invaluable member of the university’s leadership team,” said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. “She will ensure that our ambitious goals for research expansion are met, that our students have access to career-launching research opportunities as part of our 100 percent engagement initiative, and that UA innovations continue to drive Arizona’s economy.”
The UA currently conducts more than $625 million of research annually, and the National Science Foundation ranks the UA 19th among public universities and 29th overall in research expenditures. The UA is also a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities – a group of 62 leading U.S. universities distinguished by the breadth and quality of their programs in research and graduate education.
Some of the university’s strongest areas of collaboration are in aerospace and defense, the bioscience and biomedical fields, environmental sustainability, astronomy and optical sciences, information technology and agriculture.
Prior to her appointment at the UA, Espy held the position of vice president for research and innovation and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Oregon. In these roles, she led efforts to significantly expand UO’s research infrastructure and initiated the University’s Research Development Services, which assists faculty in proposal development. She also built partnerships in Oregon to accelerate research application through start-up businesses.
“The University of Arizona is an outstanding public research university, and I am honored to be joining the leadership team at this exciting time in its history,” said Espy. “President Hart’s vision articulated in the Never Settle strategic plan is compelling, providing a well-defined roadmap by which to advance the state’s goals for the university. I look forward to engaging with university faculty, staff and students and communities across Arizona to foster continued research excellence.”
In addition to leading over 100 doctoral, master’s and graduate certificate programs, Espy oversaw interdisciplinary research centers and institutes, research core facilities and all research administration services as UO's chief research officer.
“Campus feedback was highly positive. We felt she had the energy, expertise and personality to hit the ground running,” said Janko Nikolich-Žugich, who led the position’s search committee. “As a leader she will bring the necessary openness as well as the credibility needed,” added Nikolich--Žugich, head of the Department of Immunobiology and co-director of the Arizona Center on Aging at the UA College of Medicine.
Espy is also an accomplished clinical neuroscientist and in her federally funded research she has pioneered the integration of cognitive neuroscience tools and advanced multilevel growth modeling methods to create a better understanding of cognitive development in young children and infants, and to identify antecedents to behavioral disorders in medically at-risk populations.
As the UA continues to implement the goals of its Never Settle strategic plan, Espy’s experience as a research administrator, her talent as a scientist and clinician, and her leadership abilities will allow her to make important contributions to the success of the UA’s faculty, staff and students. In addition to her role as vice president for research, Espy will serve as a member of the university’s cabinet.
Espy earned her bachelor's degree from Rice University and her master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Houston. After completing a clinical/pediatric psychology internship at University of Louisville School of Medicine/Bingham Child Guidance Center and a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, she obtained licensure as a clinical psychologist.