Betsy Cantwell, PhD

Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation

Dr Cantwell

Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell leads the Office for Research, Innovation and Impact, which includes the Corporate Engagement Program, Tech Launch Arizona, the Forge and the UArizona research parks. She is responsible for expanding the university’s capacity for knowledge creation and discovery; integrating efforts by faculty, students, staff and executive leaders to move inventions and technologies to the marketplace; increasing the university’s connectivity with external collaborators; spearheading industry and public partnerships; and increasing total research funding.

Dr. Cantwell joined the University of Arizona after successfully serving as the CEO of Arizona State University Research Enterprise, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the university’s applied research and development.  Previously she served as ASU’s vice president for research development. During her tenure in that role, annual research expenditures grew by more than $150 million to a total of $610 million.

Prior to ASU, Cantwell worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), where she was director for economic development.

Prior to working at LLNL, she served in strategic leadership roles at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. She has a long career in space systems engineering, from satellite development to life support systems, and sits on the National Academies Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board.  She holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

John O'Neil, PhD

Vice President for Research Development

John O'Neil

John O’Neil is Vice President, Research Development at the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the university in 2019, Dr. O’Neil spent more than 15 years in various leadership roles in the National Security Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and more than a decade in the intelligence community. Before Oak Ridge, John spent seven years in research administration at Virginia Tech, leading federal agency relations and research development and serving on the Vice Provost’s Council.  John did his undergraduate studies in agricultural economics and public affairs at Cornell University, and his graduate work in education research at Virginia Tech.

Sangita Judge, PhD, MBA

Vice President of Operations

Sangita Judge is the Vice President of Operations at Research, Innovation and Impact. Dr. Judge has extensive operational and leadership experience. She has a successful track record of driving organizational and cultural transformation in historically conservative educational and clinical settings. She has a PhD in Molecular Cellular Biology/Cancer Biology, a MSc in Microbiology, and a MBA with expertise in basic research, administration, and management. Prior to her current position, she was the Assistant Vice President for Research at the Division of Agriculture, Life & Veterinary Sciences & Cooperative Extension and Assistant Dean, Research for the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences since 2014. Before that she directed the UA College of Medicine Research Office for six years where she developed the basic and clinical research infrastructure.

Jim Buizer

RII Senior Advisor

James (Jim) Buizer serves as senior strategy advisor to RII. He is professor of Climate Adaptation and International Development in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment and Associate Director of the Aegis Consortium for a Pandemic Free Future.  He was founding director of the Arizona Institute for Environments and Societies.

Jim serves as senior advisor to the RII Faculty Foresight Committee, on the steering committee for the France-Arizona Institute for Global Grand Challenges, and on the Biosphere2 board of directors, among others.  He has also served on numerous nonprofit boards, including as chairman for several, and in authorship roles for National Climate Assessments and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

From 2003-2011 Jim served as Senior Advisor for Institutional Transformation to the president at Arizona State University, where he led the design and establishment of the Global Institute of Sustainability. Prior to ASU, Jim was director of the Climate and Societal Interactions Division at NOAA in Washington, D.C.

He has worked in over 20 countries throughout his career and has published extensively on institutionalizing the science-to-action interface, integrating climate information into decision processes, and climate assessments. His degrees are in Oceanography, Marine Policy and Economics from the University of Washington.

Joaquin Ruiz

Director, Biosphere 2

Executive Director, Alfie Norville Gem / Mineral Museum

Executive Director, France-Arizona Institute

Vice President, Global Environmental Futures

Joaquin Ruiz received his B.S. (1977) in Geology and Chemistry from the University of Miami and his M.S.(1980) and Ph.D. (1983) in Geology from the University of Michigan. He was Assistant Professor at the University of Miami from 1982 to 1983. In 1983, he joined the University of Arizona Geosciences Department as Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1989 and Professor in 1993, serving as head of the Department of Geosciences from 1995 to 2000. He served as Dean of the College of Science from 2000-2019, Executive Dean of the Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science from 2009-2018, and Vice President for Innovation from 2013-2019. He was appointed Vice President of Global Environmental Futures in 2019 and has served as the Thomas R. Brown Chair and Director of Biosphere 2 since 2013. Dr. Ruiz served as President of the Geological Society of America (2010-2011). He is also a Fellow of the Society of Economic Geologists, and a member of the American Geophysical Union, the American Chemical Society, the Geochemical Society, and the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science. He is a member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences and was named a National Researcher by the Mexican government in 2010, when he was recognized for his outstanding scientific contributions and efforts to enhance Mexico's scientific and technological capacity through collaborations with the UA and research institutions in Mexico. In 2018, the Mexican Secretary of State named Dr. Ruiz one of forty distinguished Mexican citizens living abroad who have brought distinction to the country. He has served as Secretary of the Volcanology Section of the American Geophysical Union, Councillor of the Geological Society of America, and as a National Science Foundation Panel Member for the Instrumentation and Facilities Program and the Centers for Excellence in Science and Technology Program. He has served as Associate Editor of the American Journal of Science, Geology, Revista, and Geofísica International of the Institute of Geology, UNAM. As a scientist with equal abilities in chemistry and in geology, Dr. Ruiz addresses many first-order problems in the Earth Sciences, such as the development of new isotope systems for studying ore deposits and the tectonic processes involved in the growth and evolution of Mexico. His research team addresses problems ranging from the origins of life to present-day climate change.

Elliott Cheu, PhD

Associate Vice President, University Research Institutes

Dr. Elliott Cheu serves as the Associate Vice President for University Research Institutes in which he oversees the University-wide centers and institutes. Prior to joining the office of Research, Innovation and Impact, Elliott served as the interim Dean for the College of Science from 2019 to 2021. Dr. Cheu also helped co-chair the 2018 Strategic Planning process for the University of Arizona. From 2008-2019, he was the Associate Dean for the College of Science and in 2017 helped guide the Honors College as interim Dean.

Dr. Cheu came to the University of Arizona in 1996 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics. During his time here he has built a successful research program studying the fundamental particles and forces in the Universe. He continues to pursue his research at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, where he currently searches for evidence of dark matter.


Lisa Romero

Assistant Vice President, Marketing and Communications

headshot photo of Lisa Romero

Lisa Romero leads and manages strategic marketing communications, public affairs, and stakeholder engagement efforts on behalf of the university’s research and innovation enterprise. Reporting directly to Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation, Lisa works broadly within RII and across the entire university to develop and manage an integrated marketing and communications strategy to expand awareness of UArizona’s research impact and thought leadership. She is recognized for her expertise in collaborating across large and diverse enterprises and is highly connected both on campus and among key RII stakeholders. She is a proven brand builder and native Tucsonan, bringing three decades of experience developing and leading teams across academia, scientific, corporate, and non-profit organizations.

Lisa joined UArizona in 2012 at the BIO5 Institute where she built a team focused on advancing brand impact for an interdisciplinary, translational research institute with almost 400 members spanning 75 departments, centers, and institutes across the university. She served as one third of the enterprise wide BIO5 leadership team, and created sustainable, meaningful connections and partnerships across the university, community, and state. 

Prior to BIO5, Lisa led communications, marketing, and strategic outreach at organizations both here in Tucson and in Tempe, AZ, including: the Critical Path Institute; the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; RE/MAX All Executives; Tucson Association of REALTORS; Realty Executives of Tucson; Coldwell Banker Success Realty; and Eagle Management Company. She has also served as a consultant to many other organizations and leaders throughout her career.

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