A Changing of the Guard at the Kilachand Center

March, 2, 2023

By Jim Cooney


In January, the Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering welcomed its new director of operations, Dr. Daniel Sheehan—who had previously worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Laboratory of Computational Neurophysiology at the Center—while bidding farewell to Kevin Gonzales, who is taking a new role as Boston University’s assistant vice president for operations after serving the Kilachand Center for five years as its inaugural operations director.

Kevin Gonzales (left) and Daniel Sheehan standing outside the West entrance of the Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering

Deep BU roots make for versatile leadership

Kevin Gonzales has had a long history at BU. As early as 2005 he began working in the Office of the Provost while pursuing his undergraduate degree (COM’08), and in 2007 was even named Student Employee of the Year by both Boston University and the State of Massachusetts. While he admitted at the time that he never saw himself wanting a traditional “office job,” he nonetheless continued working at the provost’s office after obtaining his BS in film and television. Over the years he received one promotion after another, all while simultaneously obtaining his MBA in Business Administrations and Management (QST ’15).

“I first met Kevin when I came into my current position in 2013 and immediately recognized what a great employee and colleague he was,” said Gloria Waters, vice president and associate provost for research at Boston University, during a dinner ceremony held earlier this year to celebrate Gonzales’ accomplishments. “Kevin was very competent, knowledgeable, professional, and most importantly ready to learn and take on any task. He was always willing to learn new skills as the need arose,” Waters said, offering as one example the time he helped with grant submissions when the office found themselves short-handed.

Kevin Gonzales

When Waters took on the role of managing the construction and occupancy of the Kilachand Center building, she tapped Gonzales to serve as the Center’s first director of operations, confident that he would quickly discern the various and complex needs of the resident faculty in order to provide all the support they needed. “I often joke that Kevin was the Mayor of Kilachand,” Waters said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Gonzales once again demonstrated his initiative and versatility, first by helping to facilitate construction of the University’s Clinical Testing Laboratory and then again in making the Kilachand Center ready for re-occupancy once pandemic conditions allowed. Finally, when Waters was assigned the daunting task of setting up a network of collection sites to field thousands of tests per day from faculty, staff and students—a job that involved, among other responsibilities, overseeing more 150 staff—she leaned on Gonzales once more, though she later admitted that neither of them fully understood the commitment this entailed. For the next two years, Gonzales deftly juggled his dual roles as director of operations for the Kilachand Center and director of collections site operations for the University in tandem.

In this new role as Boston University’s assistant vice president for operations, Gonzales will be responsible for re-establishing and reimagining the building coordinator network across the University in addition to helping the senior vice president of operations coordinate various efficiency initiatives across the portfolio.


Bringing a researcher’s experience to the operations role

Daniel Sheehan, PhD, who began serving as the Kilachand Center’s new director of operations in January, came to the Center from BU’s Laboratory of Computational Neurophysiology, Psychological & Brain Sciences (CAS), where he supervised all day-to-day operations including the onboarding and training of personnel, the management of supplies, animals, and equipment, the conducting regulatory inspections, and the management of laboratory processes.

Dr. Daniel Sheehan

Previously, Dr. Sheehan had served as a postdoctoral fellow in the same lab, utilizing in-vivo techniques to study navigation and memory processes in rodent models under the advisement of Dr. Michael Hasselmo. In 2020, Dr. Sheehan received his PhD from BU’s Brain, Behavior & Cognition program in Psychological and Brain Sciences, under the advisement first of Dr. Howard Eichenbaum and then later under Dr. Marc Howard. Prior to that, he earned a master’s in Psychology from BU in 2011, and his undergraduate degree from San Diego State University in 2009.

In his latest role, Dr. Sheehan now oversees operations of 22 labs in the Kilachand Center and ten labs in 677 Beacon, plus the Clinical Testing Lab, the MRI service center, and Kilachand Center event spaces. He helps support research and center initiatives, coordinates new laboratory setup and installation, manages facilities and maintenance requests, and oversees events and community engagement within the Center.

Moreover, Dr. Sheehan says he is especially committed to ensuring smooth collaborations between the interdisciplinary faculty researchers, participating postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, research support staff, and BU central administration. “By promoting cross-lab interactions, creating opportunities for collaborations, and strengthening access to center-supported research initiatives, we are serving the larger goals of the Office of Research and the broader BU community.”

Dr. Sheehan acknowledges he has some big shoes to fill. “Taking over the reins from Kevin has been quite the adventure. Though I’ve been working in the building for years, it has been exciting these past few weeks getting to know the faculty and labs on a deeper and broader scale, and to start developing the kind of understanding and relationships that Kevin built over his many years in the role. I look forward in the coming months to personally meeting and interacting with the vast personnel and to helping them continue to conduct their research at the highest level.”