RIO Leadership Team

Joanne Billings

Associate Vice President for Research Integrity and Compliance

(612) 625-3394,

Joanne oversees critical research integrity and regulatory functions of the Human Research Protection Program (HRPP)/Institutional Review Board (IRB), the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), the Office of Biotechnology Activities Oversight (OBAO), and Research Integrity and Compliance (RIC). This position also serves as the University’s research integrity officer and deputy institutional official and has responsibility for ensuring that the institution fosters a research environment that promotes a culture of compliance, the responsible conduct of research, and research integrity and actively discourages research misconduct. In addition to her role serving the internal research community, Joanne works closely with external regulatory agencies and accrediting organizations to facilitate required and voluntary reviews of UMN research policies and processes.

Joanne holds a joint appointment between the Research and Innovation Office and the Medical School where she serves as associate professor of Medicine and as a pulmonologist and critical care physician focusing on the care of people with cystic fibrosis (CF) and post op lung transplantation. Joanne, who also oversees the Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine (PACCS) Division clinical research program, has been involved in clinical trials in CF for over 20 years.

Joanne holds a BS in biochemistry from Illinois Benedictine College, an MD from Rush Medical College, and a MPH in epidemiology from the University of Minnesota.

Units & Initiatives


Thierry Boudet

Executive Director - Strategic Initiatives

(612) 624-6560,

Thierry brings strategic vision and provides expert leadership to special projects that advance the VPR’s strategic priorities and have broad impact on the research enterprise. A change leader and innovation catalyst, Thierry orchestrates strategic goal-setting processes, oversees the conversion of objectives into actionable plans, and designs and implements solutions to solve complex business problems. He partners with faculty on both the Council for Research Associate Deans (CRAD) and the Faculty Burden Reduction Committee (FBRC), with a special focus on reducing administrative burden and driving continuous improvement efforts. Thierry is passionate about leadership, technology, innovation, and creativity. He holds an MS in management of technology from the UMN Technological Leadership Institute and a masters degree in music composition from the University of Rennes 2 (France).

Units & Initiatives

Kristin Charles

Finance Director 

(612) 624-0664,

Kristin is responsible for the financial oversight of RIO and manages a team that provides expertise in financial analysis, budgeting, and transaction processing for both administrative support units and academic centers and institutes. RIO's finance team ensures compliance with University policies and procedures and provides high-level reporting and analysis to assist units in achieving their strategic goals. Kristin has worked at the University since 2010. She holds a BS in finance, a BA in Spanish, and an MBA, all from the University of Minnesota.

Debra Dykhuis

Executive Director - Human Research Protection Program/Institutional Review Board

(612) 626-4851,

Debbie is responsible for leadership of the Human Research Protection Program office, home to the Institutional Review Board, the Quality Assurance program for human research, the scientific assessment process, and the regulatory ancillary review process for Food and Drug Administration regulated research. Prior to assuming the HRPP executive director role in 2012, Debbie spent 20 years in roles supporting biomedical researchers at the University. She holds a BA from the University of Minnesota.

Megan Ferden

Human Resources Director

(612) 624-7921,

As HR director, Megan is responsible for providing strategic leadership, planning, development, coordination, implementation, and oversight of human resources programs and services in RIO. She oversees a dedicated RIO HR Shared Services team. RIO HR works collaboratively with RIO administration, business units, and academic centers and institutes to ensure their efforts are aligned with University-wide human resources policies, programs, and strategic initiatives. Megan has been at the University of Minnesota since 2004 and with RIO since 2007. She holds a BA from Doane University and is a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Senior Certified Professional (SCP).

Laura Fingerson

Assistant Vice President for Research and Chief of Staff

(612) 626-1361,

Laura oversees RIO operations and assists the vice president for research and innovation with a broad spectrum of executive responsibilities and commitments, including determining the strategic direction for the office and planning, coordinating, and implementing the research agenda. Laura serves as an important liaison with University leadership staff and offices, and more broadly, oversees RIO stakeholder management of a variety of internal and external constituencies, often serving as a representative of the VP. Laura collaborates with key stakeholders to ensure RIO operations serve the needs of the University research community in an effective and efficient manner. She also directly oversees operations in: human resources, communications, and VP administrative support.

Laura has held numerous leadership roles in higher education administration and has a strong background in institutional evaluation and effectiveness. Prior to coming to the University, Fingerson served as vice president for enterprise analytics and insights at Strategic Education, where she led academic and business analytics teams providing quantitative and qualitative research and solutions-oriented strategic planning for Capella University and Strayer University. While at Strategic Education, Laura also developed and led Capella University’s Institutional Effectiveness team, using change management techniques to design and implement new methods of evaluation, continuous quality improvement, data-informed decision-making, external benchmarking, and measurement. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota, her master’s and PhD at Indiana University, and was an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Units & Initiatives

  • Communications
  • Human Resources

Dan Gilchrist

Communications Director

(612) 624-2609,

Dan leads RIO’s communications department, which plans, coordinates, and implements communications strategies that highlight the role the University plays as one of America’s leading research universities and its contributions to economic development, technological advancement, and environmental sustainability. He facilitates RIO’s government relations efforts, including the federal appropriations process, and is the primary liaison with other University leadership offices for research-related public relations and issues management. RIO’s communications team also keeps the University’s research community aware of new opportunities for research funding and collaboration, as well as changes to how research is administered, regulated, and funded. Dan previously served the University as speechwriter to two presidents, federal relations coordinator, and Extension program coordinator. He holds two policy-related degrees from Stanford University.

Rick Huebsch

Associate Vice President for Technology Commercialization

(612) 625-3760,

Rick Huebsch serves as the senior leader responsible for the overall strategic direction, management, and administration of the technology commercialization and venture operations for the five University of Minnesota campuses and the University’s collaborative research centers throughout the state. Rick also oversees personnel and financial operations of the Tech Comm organization, including a new gap funding initiative that he has helped to formulate and the University’s Discovery Capital investment program. 

Rick also provides leadership in partnering with the University of Minnesota Foundation on the Corporate Engagement Center. He serves on the Launch MN Advisory Board for the State of Minnesota and maintains robust partnerships with many Minnesota-focused organizations, including the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Medical Alley, Greater MSP, MNSBIR, and the Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship.

Before joining Technology Commercialization in 2008, Rick worked for 20 years in the software industry, including executive management with Control Data, OpenVision Technologies, Veritas Software, and Symantec. Rick received a BS in computer science and mathematics from the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse.

Units & Initiatives

Kimberly Kirkpatrick

Associate Vice President for Research Capacity Building

(612) 625-2046,

Kimberly (Kim) provides leadership in development, enhancement, management, and review of academic institutes and centers that report to RIO. She also supervises RIO-managed research infrastructure and resources including the Research Animal Resources facilities and Biosafety Level 3 program. She more broadly oversees University shared research resources, core research services, and related infrastructure. She emphasizes initiatives that enhance interdisciplinary collaborative funding and research opportunities between the health sciences and other units across the UMN system. 
Prior to coming to the University, Kim was a Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences and Director of the Cognitive and Neurobiological Approaches to Plasticity Center at Kansas State University. She has served as the PI on over $30 million in extramural grants from the National Institutes of Health and other agencies. Her primary line of research examined the neurobiology of impulsive behaviors in rodents. She has 12 years of experience directing animal facilities and over 30 years of research experience with preclinical animal models.


Centers & Institutes

Danielle Rintala

Director - Research Integrity and Compliance

(612) 624-8349,

Danielle directs the Research Integrity and Compliance (RIC) team in RIO. Danielle is responsible for providing leadership to the Responsible Conduct of Research Education Program, Certified Approver Program, Research Security, Export Controls, research integrity and ethics affairs, addressing research compliance issues, and supporting research misconduct reviews as the assistant research integrity officer. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, Danielle was the associate director of research compliance and biosafety officer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she developed and managed the biosafety program. She was also responsible for the oversight of human subjects research, animal research, and radiation safety. Prior to research compliance, Danielle was an instructor and program director for 10 years in higher education, with teaching experience in microbiology, anatomy & physiology, biochemistry, and pathophysiology. She is a current PhD student in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development - Higher Education. 

Pamela A. Webb

Associate Vice President for Research Administration

(612) 624-1648,

Pamela is responsible for pre-award and post-award nonfinancial services supporting more than $1 billion in research awards annually, as well as negotiation of facilities and administrative rates, effort reporting, and research policy and education. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota in 2007, Pamela led pre-award and post-award administration at Stanford University, and served in research administration at UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, and Northwestern University. In August 2016, she received her industry’s highest honor, the Outstanding Achievement in Research Administration Award. She is a leader in national research organizations, including the Council on Government Relations, and holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin.

Units & Initiatives

James Wilgenbusch

Director - Research Computing

(612) 624-1355,

James (Jim) is responsible for the strategic direction and leadership of major computational research areas, including the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) and U-Spatial. In this role, he leads University-wide initiatives, partners with collegiate senior administrators and works with faculty and administrators to shape research computing at the University of Minnesota, ensures the excellence of existing activities, and facilitates the implementation of new programs. Jim is also involved at a regional and national level in the promotion and development of research cyberinfrastructure and plays a variety of roles in organizations such as the Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation (CASC), the Campus Research Computing Consortium (CARCC), and the National Science Foundation’s Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs. Jim maintains research activities in the study and implementation of models, methods and software used in phylogenetic inference, and leads efforts to develop cyberinfrastructure for biological research and research and engineering in general. Jim earned his PhD at George Mason University. More information about Jim is available on his ORCID profile.

Units & Initiatives

More staff listings are available on the following pages:

Administrative Support Units
Vice President for Research and Innovation
RIO Staff List
RIO Organization Chart