The University of Minnesota has picked its next vice president for research -- Brian Herman, of the University of Texas.

Herman, a cellular and structural biology professor, is the chancellor's health fellow in collaboration for the University of Texas system and special assistant to the president at its Health Science Center at San Antonio.

In the announcement Thursday, the University of Minnesota called him "an accomplished scientist, researcher and academic administrator."

Herman will oversee research on the U's five campuses, a portfolio that includes $786 million in research and development spending. He succeeds Tim Mulcahy, who joined the U in 2005 and will retire in December.

Mulcahy has done "a fabulous job in building an office from something that was very focused on administration of sponsored grants into something that's much more strategic," Herman said by phone.

Herman said he hopes to continue making the university "less risk-averse, finding the right balance between doing things ethically and in compliance with our regulations and still allowing faculty, staff and students to do things in novel ways."

He said he also wants to encourage faculty members to collaborate across disciplines to solve the "big, societal problems facing the world."

He beat out two other finalists for the post: Meredith Hay, a physiology professor at the University of Arizona, where she was provost from 2008 to 2011, and Mark Banaszak Holl, a chemistry professor at the University of Michigan and former associate vice president for research.

Herman starts Jan. 1, pending the Board of Regents' approval.

Jenna Ross