RII Senior Leadership Team

Elliott Cheu, PhD

Interim Senior Vice President of Research and Innovation

Dr. Elliott Cheu serves as the Interim Senior Vice President of Research and Innovation and Associate Vice President for University Research 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.


Sangita Judge, PhD, MBA

Vice President, Research 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.

Lisa Romero

Associate Vice President, Research Communications and Marketing

Portrait of Lisa Romero, smiling, wearing a black blazer

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 Elliott Cheu, Interim Senior Vice President of 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.

Peter Reiners

Interim Associate Vice President, Research Centers & Institutes

Pete serves as the Interim Associate VP for Research Centers, Institutes, Museums, and Core Facilities. Prior to joining RII, he served as Associate Dean for Research in the College of Science from 2019-2021, Department Head of Geosciences from 2013-2018, and Dean of Faculty of Environment at the University of Northern British Columbia for 2022. Pete came to the University of Arizona in 2006 and continues to direct or co-direct geochronology and geochemistry laboratories, conduct research across a range of Earth and environmental science, and pursue projects in subsurface processes, cleantech, and resources necessary for mitigating climate change and promoting sustainability.

Carol A. Stewart

Vice President, Tech Parks Arizona

Carol Stewart, a long-standing authority on research parks, is the Associate Vice President for Tech Parks Arizona at the University of Arizona.  Carol Stewart leads the UA Tech Park at Rita Road and is developing the UA Tech Park at the Bridges.  She is also president of the University of Arizona Center for Innovation, a technology business incubator network serving the University of Arizona, Tucson and international community.

Stewart’s expertise in university research parks spans decades and nations with more than 20 years of experience working with research parks, technology commercialization, business incubation, governmental relations and business development.

As a pioneer in the research parks world, she has driven national policy, standardized programs, created national and international networks, built technology clusters, engaged stakeholders, and assisted countries with the development of their national science and technology policies.

Stewart is passionate about her community and serves as a champion in university-based economic development. She is a member of Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Flinn Foundation Steering Committee, a member of the Canadian Global Mentor Program and she also serves on the Board of Directors for Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce, Pima County’s Workforce Investment Board, Sun Corridor Inc., Arizona Technology Council, Desert Angels, and is a member of the City of Tucson Mayor’s Economic Development Advisory Council.

Doug Hockstad

Associate Vice President, Tech Launch Arizona

Doug Hockstad

Doug Hockstad serves as the Associate Vice President of Tech Launch Arizona. He joined the UArizona in 2013 initially directing the IP and licensing function, building on more than 25 years of experience in high tech markets.

His career began in the software industry, where he gained experience with both established companies and startups. From there he moved on to tech transfer at the University of Michigan, where his most recent primary responsibility was managing software and other copyright-related intellectual property created across the U of M campus. Doug has also served on the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) Board of Directors, helping to set the strategic direction of the organization.


Liesl Folks

Vice President, Semiconductor Strategy

Liesl Folks

Dr. Liesl Folks currently serves as the Vice President for Semiconductor Strategy at the University of Arizona, where she is also a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. For the period 2019-2023, she served the institution as Provost, leading strong growth in on-campus and online student enrollment, greatly expanded research activity, increased diversity of faculty, staff and students, led salary equity reviews for faculty, introduced minimum stipends for graduate student researchers, and the launch of two new colleges.

She holds a BSc (Hons) and a PhD, both in Physics, from The University of Western Australia, as well as an MBA from Cornell. She previously served as the dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and professor of Electrical Engineering at the University at Buffalo, NY. Prior to joining UB in 2012, she spent 16 years in research & development in support of the data storage industry in Silicon Valley. There, she worked at IBM Almaden Research Center, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, and Western Digital. Her R&D accomplishments include key contributions to the fields of nanoscale magnetic metrology, bit-patterned media, microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR), Helium sealed drives, spin-transfer-torque sensors, and Hall cross sensors. An internationally recognized expert in the fields of magnetic materials and devices, nanoscale metrology, and spin-electronic devices, Dr. Folks holds 12 U.S. patents and is author of more than 60 peer-reviewed articles that have attracted more than 13,300 citations.

Dr. Folks has long been a mentor to women and under-represented groups in STEM and was a co-author of the ASEE's Deans Diversity Statement that was announced by President Obama in 2015 and has more than 200 engineering deans as signatories. She was the first female President of the IEEE Magnetics Society, for 2013-2014, and has served on the Strategic Planning Committee for the IEEE Technical Activities Board. Within the academy, she has been a leader in expanding interdisciplinary research aimed at addressing major social and global challenges, and in growing hands-on and experiential learning opportunities for students. She chaired the 2020 congressionally-mandated NASEM Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, and is now serving as NASEM Committee Chair for the panel on Global Microelectronics: Models for the Department of Defense in Semiconductor Public-Private Partnerships.  Dr. Folks is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

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 Resilience.

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 Biosphere 2 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.

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