Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah appointed new dean of Bloustein School

Rutgers University–New Brunswick has appointed Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah as the new Dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, effective Oct. 1.

She was most recently the Ch2m chair of Transport and professor of Urban Studiesand an affiliated professor at the School of Engineering in the University of Glasgow, UK. She succeeds Distinguished Professor Michael R. Greenberg, who has been interim dean since July 2017.

Dr. Thakuriah is the founding director and principal investigator of the Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC) funded by Economic and Social Research Council of Research Councils UK. There, she led a large-scale nationwide urban data infrastructure with colleagues from 10 academic disciplines in the urban social sciences, data sciences and engineering, at the University of Glasgow, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Bristol, Reading, Sheffield and the University of Illinois-Chicago. In partnership with government agencies and industrial partners, UBDC promotes innovative data and analytics to address complex urban challenges.

“I am delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Vonu Thakuriah,” said Wanda J. Blanchett, Ph.D., interim provost and executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at Rutgers-New Brunswick. “As dean of Bloustein, Dr. Thakuriah will play a major leadership role in working with the interdisciplinary faculty to enhance the school’s visibility and impact, innovative academic programming and externally funded research and fundraising. Given her accomplishments and success in leading complex initiatives and working successfully across disciplines, she is precisely the proven and dynamic leader we need to lead Bloustein into the future.”

Dr. Thakuriah’s research interests are on smart, socially just and sustainable transport. She is more broadly interested in urban informatics, or the analytics of emerging sources of “big data” to understand complex urban problems. She has been principal investigator of several significant grants in the United States and UK funded by Research Councils UK, European Commission, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Transportation, Department of Labor and other leading research sponsors.

“What drew me to Rutgers is the university’s internationally-leading research and educational excellence on addressing the grand challenges facing 21st Century society and cities. As Dean, I will advocate on behalf of the faculty for their continued excellence in scholarship and policy impact, and for Bloustein students to have a world-class educational experience helping them make a real difference to society’s hard problems. The school is uniquely positioned to excel in greater innovation toward sustainability and a fairer society, and I am confident that Bloustein will lead in supporting the aspirations and agenda of Rutgers–New Brunswick to benefit the public good locally as well as globally. I feel privileged to be offered this opportunity and I look forward to working with the outstanding faculty, staff, and students, as well as with the university community.”

Dr. Thakuriah holds a Marie Curie fellowship from the European Commission. Before joining the University of Glasgow, she was a professor of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She was previously a fellow of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC)–Academic Leadership Program (ALP) of the Big Ten Academic Alliance. Her postdoctoral work at the National Institute of Statistical Sciences was funded by a fellowship program of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Mathematical Sciences.

She has been principal investigator of grants valued at approximately $25 million and has been involved in research grants of $63 million in total (as principal investigator, co-investigator or investigator) in the US and the UK. Dr. Thakuriah has collaborated on transport or data projects in Malaysia, China, India, Australia, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and several European countries. She has provided testimony to Congress and has given input to the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, the European Commission’s statistical agency Eurostat, Center for Big Data Statistics of Statistics Netherlands, and other leading organizations on transportation, data, automation and society.

For additional questions, please contact Karyn Olsen (karyno@rutgers.edu).