Jan Odegard joins leadership team at the Ion

Ken Kennedy Institute executive director tapped to direct academic programs at Houston innovation district hub

A rendering of the Ion.

Jan Odegard has joined the leadership team at the Ion, the future hub of a 16-acre innovation and technology district Rice Management Co. is developing on the site of the former Sears building midway between downtown Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

Jan Odegard
Jan Odegard

Odegard, who served 18 years as executive director of Rice's Ken Kennedy Institute and four years as associate vice president for research computing, became senior director for industry and academic partnerships at the Ion Jan. 1. His duties include overseeing the facility's laboratories and a 10-member network of academic partners that includes Rice, the University of Houston, UH Downtown, Texas Southern University, South Texas College of Law, the University of St. Thomas, Houston Baptist University, Houston Community College, San Jacinto College and Lone Star College.

"Jan has been the soul of the Ken Kennedy Institute for the past 18 years," institute director Lydia Kavraki said in an email announcing Odegard's departure to institute members, affiliates and supporters. "Jan has helped create an amazing environment at the Ken Kennedy Institute that has benefited the entire Rice community."

Odegard worked closely with Kavraki and the former director of the institute, Moshe Vardi, to grow membership from 100 to more than 175, secure both public and private funding to support high-performance computing (HPC) and computational science and engineering, and lead the development of an innovative model to better provide and support HPC research services across campus. Odegard was also the driving force behind the Rice Oil & Gas HPC Conference — an annual meeting that began as a workshop with 150 participants in spring 2008 and quickly grew to one of the largest annual meetings at Rice, now averaging 500 attendees — as well as the annual Rice Data Science Conference that launched in fall 2017.

Kavraki said a search for Odegard's replacement has already begun, and he is working part-time to aid the transition.