Director hired to lead development of statewide portal for university research expertise

CHAPEL HILL, NC – Sharlini Sankaran, formerly assistant director of the NC Department of Commerce Office of Science and Technology, has been named the first executive director of the Research, Engagement, and Capabilities Hub of North Carolina, or REACH NC.  Sankaran assumed her new duties November 14.

Sankaran will lead the continued development of REACH NC, a new statewide, comprehensive web portal to information on research expertise and capabilities at North Carolina’s universities and research institutions. While REACH NC will make it easier for university faculty and staff to locate potential collaborators for research and other scholarly activities, it also will provide businesses, entrepreneurs, state and local government, community organizations, and citizens with unprecedented access to information on university-based expertise and assets.

The development of REACH NC began in late 2009 as a collaborative effort of the University of North Carolina General Administration, NC State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and the Renaissance Computing Institute, a multi-campus organization that develops and deploys advanced technologies to enable research discoveries and practical innovations.  In 2010, Duke University joined the REACH NC effort as a partner.  The vision is to expand REACH NC to include additional universities and research institutions across the state.  Sankaran’s work will be supported with funding from the Triangle Universities Center for Advanced Studies, Inc., and the Research Triangle Foundation.

Sankaran holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical and computer engineering from Ohio University and a doctorate in biomedical engineering from UNC-Chapel Hill.  At the NC Department of Commerce, Sankaran managed the Green Business Fund, a competitive program that awards grants to small businesses to encourage them to commercialize innovative green technologies.  She also organized the annual NC Nanotechnology Commercialization Conference, an event that features national-caliber speakers and attracts hundreds of attendees, and tracked the success of the One North Carolina Small Business Program and the Green Business Fund in creating jobs and leveraging funding.  Earlier in her career, Sankaran held positions with the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and Sigma Xi.

For more information about REACH NC, visit