Miguel Mostafá, professor of physics and of astronomy and astrophysics, has been selected as the new associate dean for research and innovation in the Eberly College of Science, effective January 6, 2022. In this position, Mostafá will support research and research innovation by facilitating collaborations, funding, and engagement opportunities; highlighting the societal impact of innovations developed in the college; and supporting the mentoring and training of researchers. He succeeds Hong Ma, who has served in the position since 2018.
“Miguel is an accomplished scholar and has a dedicated commitment to research excellence and innovation, graduate and undergraduate education, and promoting science engagement within underserved communities,” said Tracy Langkilde, Verne M. Willaman Dean of the Eberly College of Science. “He brings a passion for excellence and inclusivity in the creation and dissemination of scientific knowledge, and I am excited to begin working with him in this capacity.”
As associate dean of research and innovation, Mostafá will supervise the college’s Research Administration Office, which is responsible for grant administration and funding opportunities for faculty, staff, and graduate students. He will also supervise the college’s Office for Innovation, which works together with the Office of Technology Management and the Office for Industrial Partnerships to assist inventors in capturing intellectual property, provide academic resources and support to entrepreneurs, and connect industrial networks to enlarge the societal impact of innovations developed in the college.
“I am excited to take on this position because my vision aligns with the college’s,” said Mostafá. “The college aims to constantly improve the national and international recognition for its excellence in research and education, celebrates innovation and diversity, strives to improve the world, shares knowledge with passion, and provides expertise for industry and service to the community.”
Mostafá currently serves as director of the Penn State Center for Multimessenger Astrophysics and serves on the executive committee for the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos. He has served as a mentor to many students from underrepresented groups at Penn State through the Millennium Scholars Program and Summer Research Opportunities Program. He is also a faculty mentor for students in the Women in Science and Engineering Research and Minority Undergraduate Research Experience programs of the NASA's Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium, and the faculty advisor of the Latin American Graduate Student Association.
“As associate dean for research and innovation, I would like to pursue several initiatives to promote excellence in research, encourage and support innovation, and increase diversity and international cooperation,” said Mostafá.
Mostafá studies the astrophysics of high-energy particles, including ultra-high energy cosmic rays—the most energetic and rarest particles in the universe— and very-high energy gamma rays. He has studied cosmic rays as part of the Pierre Auger Observatory Collaboration for more than 20 years. His research team also designed and built the 300 plastic bladders that hold ultra-pure water inside the very-high energy gamma ray detectors of the High Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory in Mexico. He is helping to develop a new high-altitude gamma-ray observatory in South America and a large-scale radio detector for ultra-high energy neutrinos in China. Since 2013, Mostafá has been the principal investigator of the Penn State-led Astrophysical Multimessenger Observatory Network, which triggers observatories around the world to follow up on detections of high-energy particles and provide a more complete picture of the particle’s cosmic source.
Mostafá is an elected Fellow of the American Physical Society and was recognized for his dedication to undergraduate teaching in 2016 with the C.I. Noll Award from the Eberly College of Science. His previous awards and honors include Best Teacher Awards from the Colorado State University’s Alumni Association and the Student Alumni Connection, the Outstanding Mentor Award presented by the Students as Leaders in Science at the Colorado State University in 2009, and the Students Choice Award sponsored by the Associated Students of the University of Utah in 2007.
Before joining Penn State in 2013, Mostafá was an associate professor of physics at Colorado State University. He earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering in 1996 and a doctoral degree in high-energy particle physics in 2001 at the Instituto Balseiro in Argentina.