After an eight-month search, the University of Wyoming has chosen a new vice president for research and economic development.

Edmund “Ed” Synakowski will begin his duties on Aug. 8. He will also be serving as a professor in the UW Department of Physics and Astronomy, according to a UW news release.

Synakowski will be replacing Vice President Bill Gern, who is retiring this year. UW President Laurie Nichols said she was pleased with the choice and has confidence in Synakowski’s abilities.

“I am delighted that a scientist and administrator of Dr. Synakowski’s stature has agreed to lead the University of Wyoming’s vital research and economic development enterprises,” President Laurie Nichols says in a statement. “I am confident he will play a key role in building upon the foundation established by Dr. Gern and others to continue to grow the university’s research portfolio -- and help UW become an even stronger intellectual engine for the state’s economy.”

Before accepting the position as the new VP, Synakowski served as the associate director of science in the Department of Energy since 2009. As part of that position, he administered a $400 million budget annually to develop nuclear fusion as an energy source. Before that, he led the Fusion Energy Program at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and held multiple roles at Princeton University’s Plasma Physics Laboratory.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics at John Hopkins University in 1982 and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1988.

As vice president of research and economic development, Synakowski will be tasked with facilitating and supporting the research efforts of UW faculty, staff and students, promoting the university’s research program and directing technology transfer and commercialization efforts for UW intellectual property.