Sides Named Director of Office of Industry Engagement

Cynthia Sides has been named director of the Office of Industry Engagement at the University of Arkansas. Sides, a native Arkansan who received her doctorate in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Arkansas in 2007, will serve as a central administration contact between the university and industries throughout the state and country.

She has been with the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development since 2013, where she has been involved with Arkansas industry interaction and worked as the associate director for the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Her new role continues her work developing ties between industry and academia, creating entrepreneurial opportunities for STEM students and helping researchers commercialize their work.

“This office is a resource,” Sides said. “I want it to be the place where companies can reach out and say, ‘We need assistance.’ And I can say, ‘What can I help you with?’ As a land grant and flagship institution, that is part of our mission.”

Jim Rankin, vice provost for research and economic development, said establishing the Office of Industry Engagement reflects the university’s commitment to that mission, and will benefit students.

“Our researchers can help industry solve problems and drive economic growth in the state and beyond, and industry can help our students gain real-world experience before they enter the job market,” Rankin said. “Cynthia will focus on making those connections across campus and across the state. I look forward to working with her in the new role.”

Sides also teaches the Emerging Technologies in Industry course, which directly matches students in physics, chemistry/biochemistry, biology, engineering and other majors with industries seeking novel solutions for problems. She has written about entrepreneurship and economic development in Arkansas for Arkansas Money & Politics magazine, and developed a mentoring program connecting U of A STEM majors with young female students in south Arkansas interested in science and engineering.

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