Penn State Behrend names associate dean for research and graduate studies

ERIE, Pa. — A former Great Lakes researcher who later built a 50-member R&D team for Canon U.S. Life Sciences and Canon Biomedical has been named associate dean for research and graduate studies at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

Ivor T. Knight will oversee the college’s strategic research programs and expand its graduate-degree offerings, which include master’s degrees in business administration, project management, manufacturing management, professional accounting and applied clinical psychology.

“Dr. Knight brings an impressive background in teaching, research and management across academia, government and industry,” Chancellor Ralph Ford said. “His strong record of experience in funded research, involvement with federal and private-sector sponsored funding, and knowledge of the dynamics of higher education make him exceptionally well qualified to fill this important role at Penn State Behrend.”

Knight currently serves as senior vice president and chief technical officer at Canon U.S. Life Sciences and Canon Biomedical. His team develops products for the human genetic research market, including DNA-based screening tests for diseases in newborns that can be treated if discovered early. His work at Canon has led to 66 U.S. patents.

Knight, a microbiologist, previously taught in the biology and chemistry departments at James Madison University. He developed Virginia’s first undergraduate major in biotechnology. He holds a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Maryland and a bachelor of science in animal and veterinary science from West Virginia University.

Early in his career, Knight led a collaborative study of the microbial pathogens that are carried in the ballast water of cargo vessels as they enter the Great Lakes. The program was funded by the Great Lakes Protection Fund, with cooperation from shipping associations and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Knight also has experience in government, having worked as a food-safety adviser for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He led the “Partnerships for Food Industry Development” program, which assisted food-industry entrepreneurs in Central America, Eastern Europe and Africa, and was a Science and Diplomacy Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development. He also worked with the National Science Foundation.

“I have been fortunate to have had a full research career in both academia and industry,” Knight said. “One reason I was attracted to this position at Behrend is the active collaboration with industry that is already ongoing at the college. I see this as a great opportunity to use my experience in government, industry and academia to work with my colleagues and develop enduring research partnerships that will benefit students and the community well into the future.”