University of Chicago RDS

The Best People, The Best Ideas, The Best Research

We attract smart, interesting, and principled people who come from a variety of backgrounds including academia, social enterprise, business, law, development, and non-profits. This diversity allows us to bring an innovative, and sometimes unorthodox, approach to research strategy. As a team, we collaborate and learn from each other, our faculty partners, and their work. We value giving our team members an equal seat at the table.

Our team is composed of members from three campus units: Research, Innovation and National Laboratories, the Office of Alumni Relations and Development (Foundation Relations), and the Office of Civic Engagement (Federal Relations). This unique composition allows us to work on projects across campus as well as federal and foundation funding opportunities. Our goal is to accelerate complex research projects while navigating barriers among faculty, funders, and University leadership in the most effective, efficient, and experienced way possible.

Kate Von Holle
Kate Von Holle
Senior Director, Federal Research
Kate Von Holle
Senior Director, Federal Research

I enjoy acting as a resource for faculty. My job allows me to learn about many different topics, and encourages me to be able to communicate that information to a broad variety of audiences.

Spending the past eight years of my career in Washington DC, working with the sole aim to understand the workings of the executive and legislative branches has prepared me for the unique challenge of navigating the federal agencies on behalf of the University of Chicago. I spent my first year in Washington as a science fellow at the State Department, learning the intricacies of international science policy with regard to marine conservation issues. Moving on to work at a scientific non-profit like the American Geophysical Union prepared me to work with scientists, and helping them communicate with their Congressional delegations and informing of them of new developments in science policy and funding. Lastly, my previous position working for the UK government at the British Embassy in Washington DC allowed me to work with a broad swath of the science agencies, engaging them on many different levels, leading me to develop an in-depth understanding of how they operate. All of these experiences gave me unique insights which have informed my work at RDS.

I appreciate trying out the variety of restaurants that DC has to offer, as well as working off those calories by getting outdoors whenever possible in a variety of pursuits which include running, co-ed softball, and surfing.  

B.S. Biology, College of William & Mary, full athletic scholarship for basketball, M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy, University of Illinois, full academic fellowship.

kvonholle@uchicago.edu
Elena Zinchenko
Elena Zinchenko
Director of Research Innovation and Interim Executive Director
Elena Zinchenko
Director of Research Innovation and Interim Executive Director

I love research for its systematic capacity for surprise and beauty. It is also a framework for how to change the status quo - something that I have been engaged in my whole life.

Growing up in Northern Siberia, I tried to challenge the way things were done – I did it by co-founding some of the first non-profit organizations in the area. After coming to the US on a scholarship, I worked with hi-tech startups to push forward the adoption of new technologies. I went to graduate school because cognitive science is reframing some age-old philosophical views about the relation between the mind and the brain. For my doctorate, I studied abstract thinking development in young children, and in my post-doctoral studies I worked on determining the brain activation signatures that support metaphoric thinking across lifespan. I now run the Big Ideas Generator at RDS - supporting early-stage, risky and very ambitious research projects. It speaks to my intellectual passions and my impatience about making things better and more fun.

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science, Booth School of Business; Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago; Doctorate in Human Development and Psychology, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

elenaz@uchicago.edu LinkedIn
Ka Yee Lee
Ka Yee Lee
Vice Provost for Research
Ka Yee Lee
Vice Provost for Research

Ka Yee C. Lee, Professor in Chemistry, the James Franck Institute, Institute for Biophysical Dynamics and the College, is the Vice Provost for Research. She currently serves as the Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong.

Ka Yee oversees University research administration, development, safety, and computing, as well as numerous endeavors in science that cut across divisions, schools and institutes. Her portfolio includes large-scale research structures, such as the University Research Administration, University of Chicago Consortium for Advanced Science and Engineering (UChicago CASE), Office of Research Safety, Research Computing Center and Research Development Support. She further provides leadership for University efforts to help build awareness of the University’s distinctive science enterprise.

Ka Yee’s research interests lie in the area of membrane biophysics. Her laboratory carries out fundamental studies on the interactions between lipids and proteins to gain insights into the functions of lung surfactant, the mechanism of action of antimicrobial peptides, the membrane sealing effects of polymers, as well as lipid recognition in immune regulatory receptors.

She is an elected member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and a fellow of the American Physical Society. She was a Searle Scholar, a David and Lucile Packard Fellow for Science and Engineering and a Sloan Research Fellow. She was the recipient of the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and the inaugural recipient of the Arthur L. Kelly Prize for Exceptional Faculty Service in the Physical Sciences Division.

Ka Yee obtained her Sc.B. degree in Electrical Engineering from Brown University, her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Applied Physics from Harvard University, and did her postdoctoral training at Stanford and the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is author or co-author of more than 100 scholarly publications.

Assistant: Cindy Sullivan
(773) 702-9476
sullcind@uchicago.edu

kayeelee@uchicago.edu (773) 702-7068
Kalyana Pingali
Kalyana Pingali
Associate Director of Research Development (IME & PSD Point Person)
Kalyana Pingali
Associate Director of Research Development (IME & PSD Point Person)

After getting exposure as a Chemical Engineer in process industries and also as a Professor of Chemical Engineering in academic institutions for 20 years, I developed a strong passion for transformative science with firsthand knowledge of innovations, proof-of-concept, prototyping, scalable technology development and entrepreneurship.

Prior to joining UChicago, I served as an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Western Michigan University and Assistant Research Professor in Chemical Engineering for an Engineering Research Center (ERC) at Rutgers University, where I worked with multi-disciplinary faculty, scientists and industries. Before coming to academia, I worked as a Chemical Engineer in various chemical manufacturing/process plants for 9 years.

This background helped me to develop comprehensive project management and leadership expertise needed to identify critical problems to advance a technology and secure funding in an academic environment. I also helped researchers develop strategic plans, structured thinking, and hierarchical approaches to identify the significance of translating the innovative idea into a novel product.

The past experience has enabled me to adapt to effective challenges at RINL/RDS team. In my current role at UChicago, I strive to combine innovation, education and research experience for the development of an inter-disciplinary research ecosystem. 

I associate success in life with a combination of happiness (state of mind), positive work-life balance (work, family, friends), achievement and enjoyment, and good health. During my downtime, my central activities include: engaging in Indian Carnatic music, playing musical instruments, painting, writing poetry and reading spiritual, philosophical, Sanskrit and Telugu literature.

Post Doctorate (Chemical Engineering), Rutgers University; PhD (Chemical Engineering), New Mexico State University; MS (Chemical Engineering), New Mexico State University; MBA, New Mexico State University.

kpingali@uchicago.edu
Sarah Kirstine Lain
SARAH KIRSTINE LAIN
Assistant Director for Research Innovation (BSD Point Person)
Sarah Kirstine Lain
Assistant Director for Research Innovation (BSD Point Person)

A lifelong learner, I came to research because I found inquiry to be a rich foundation for generating programs that inform society, industry, and human thought. My passion is process-oriented development for projects that drive connections in creative, scientific, and computational thinking. For the past decade, my background has entailed development work in academia, software development, and simulation engineering industries. Formerly at Canadian Aviation Electronics, I managed global defense industry proposals for flight, ground, and emergency simulation training systems. I have also been a technical writer in learning and enterprise resource management software industries and have taught business, technical, and creative writing courses at the Art Institute of Tampa. Most recently at the UChicago Research Computing Center, I managed NSF, NIH, and NIJ research proposals for Principal Investigators in Molecular Engineering, Chemistry, Radiology, Geophysical Sciences, Linguistics, Social Sciences, and the National Labs. I hold a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Lesley University, and in my (theoretical) downtime, I edit a poetry publication called Poems2go, located in over thirty strategic public spaces across the U.S.

lains@uchicago.edu 773.702.6532