'Dear Colleagues': Busy start to the semester

Vice President for Research and Economic Development David Shaw examines new initiatives, ongoing programs and the university's role in economic development in his latest campus update.

Dear Colleagues:

Now that the fall semester is in full swing and our student enrollment has once again set a new record, I wanted to take a moment to update you on our activities in the Office of Research and Economic Development.

The month of August was a busy time for us as we helped welcome a large number of new faculty to campus, and also hosted a very successful National Science Foundation special event titled, "Science: Becoming the Messenger." More than 120 participated in this communication skill-building workshop. Thanks go to Dr. Teresa Gammill for organizing and promoting the workshop.

Sponsored Programs Administration Initiatives

Mr. Richard Swann, our director of Sponsored Programs Administration, has actively been working toward a number of improvements in the services his office provides. On Sept. 7-9, we will host a team of three nationally recognized research administrators that will be conducting a peer review of the research administration process as part of the National Council of Research Administrators (NCURA) peer review program. This review, similar in nature to an academic program review, is being done at my request to ensure that we are appropriately organized to advance excellence in research and creative accomplishments within the Mississippi State community.

Particular attention will be given to the areas of:
- Proposal Services
- Award Acceptance and Initiation
- Award Management
- Research Ethics
- Organizational Structure and Staffing
- Communications, Outreach and Education
- Compliance and Risk Assessment
- Electronic Research Administration

This visit provides an opportunity for the peer reviewers to interact with representatives of all the important constituent groups in our research community. As part of the process, the peer reviewers will be meeting with a group of junior and senior faculty, as well as selected administrators. This review is being conducted solely as a self-improvement measure in our attempt to deliver better and more efficient services to our faculty.

As I reported last month, SPA has also implemented an electronic submission process for the internal approval sheet and is currently testing it within the Bagley College of Engineering and major centers. To date, the feedback has been very positive, and we hope to implement the process university-wide in the near future. We have also been working with ITS to revise our reporting processes for grants and contracts so we can "credit" home departments, as well as the organization processing the grant. It is our intention to make sure that faculty from an academic department who process their grants or contracts through a university center are credited for their successes in both organizations.

I want to thank SPA for their effort in providing a number of seminars for faculty that pertain to successful grant writing, submitting a proposal, budgeting, and other topics that facilitate research success. To date, these have been well attended, and we hope that trend continues. The training sessions that are being offered are part of our ORED Seminar Series and are posted on the ORED website at http://www.research.msstate.edu/rresources/pdf/2011-12_ORED_Seminar_Series_Final.pdf. For more information on the ORED Seminar Series or to suggest topics that you would like to see added to the series, please contact Dr. Gammill in my office.

Responsible Conduct for Research training sessions kick off

Our ORED Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training sessions kicked off recently with a tremendous response. As a reminder, training in the Responsible Conduct of Research Ethics is required by federal funding agencies of project personnel who are being supported by the federal funding. Because education in RCR is considered essential in the preparation of future scientists and engineers, ORED is providing one-hour, RCR supplemental sessions for faculty, staff, and students to discuss selected ethics topics. For a calendar of upcoming seminars, go to: http://www.research.msstate.edu/rconduct/pdf/supplemental_information.pdf.

Expanded Duties for the Office of Research Security

Mr. Neil Lewis, our Director of Research Security, assumed additional responsibilities this year to include export control and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) responsibilities. Over the past several years, he has developed one of the very best security administration programs in the Southeast region and has been recognized for that achievement by the Department of Defense. As a faculty member, you seldom hear about the work of this office, and for the majority of us, that is a very good thing. Neil keeps us out of trouble, and makes sure we follow appropriate government rules and regulations pertaining to classified work and export control restrictions. He also offers services that you may not be aware of. If you are traveling internationally, he can loan you a laptop with encryption installed that will allow you to remain connected while traveling and not expose the information on your normal university machine to possible theft and/or compromise. He is also able to advise you on any security warnings associated with travel to specific countries and regions. We greatly appreciate his work and support of your research enterprise.

Economic Development: Making Headlines

Economic development is an ORED activity that you might overlook. Many times, we are unable to publish our efforts in this area due to sensitivities associated with the negotiations that have to take place when an industrial enterprise is considering relocating to our state or our community. Dr. Mel Ray and I spend a good deal of time working with economic developers, and we are often asking for your help in providing details concerning your research activity, your degree programs, and your research centers. We are very appreciative of the consistent responsiveness that you give us, and I want you to know that these efforts often turn into jobs for our community and industrial research opportunities for our faculty and students. Be assured that when you read in the news that a company is relocating nearby or that a new industrial facility is being built in our region -- you have made a contribution to that decision and this office has been involved. I want to thank you all for making MSU such an attractive partner to those that decide to invest in our community and our state.

Cross-College Research Grants

We are again soliciting proposals from faculty who desire to create interdisciplinary, cross-college research groups on campus. These grants will be in the amount of $2,000 each and limited to a period of 12 months (renewable one time for a total of 24 months and $4,000). The grants are intended to facilitate interdisciplinary interaction between faculty and students who have a common research theme. These collaborative teams are expected to meet on a regular basis, share research ideas, and prepare one or more proposals within the first 12 months to a funding agency. In order to apply for a first-time research facilitation grant, faculty should submit a request (not to exceed two pages) to ORED that outlines the proposed research topic, the names and departmental affiliations of the faculty who have agreed to participate, identification of what funding agencies would be interested in funding this topic, and whether or not there is international collaborative potential. Proposals should be forwarded through the appropriate Associate Dean for Research to Dr. Ray Vaughn, Associate Vice President for Research, not later than Oct. 10, 2011, for consideration. Questions concerning this opportunity should be addressed to Dr. Vaughn, vaughn@research.msstate.edu or 325-3570.

For faculty interested in submitting a Small Business, Innovative Research (SBIR) proposal in the future and need some advice and assistance, I wanted to pass on that Dr. Li Zhang in Civil Engineering is volunteering to mentor entrepreneurs who are writing for SBIRs. He has been successful in SBIR Phase I and Phase II and is also willing to share a copy of his successful proposals with others. If you want to contact Dr. Zhang, he can be reached at li.zhang@ngsim.com or within the Civil Engineering Department.

In closing, I would be remiss if I didn't offer congratulations to Coach Dan Mullen and our football team for the excellent start this year and the excitement they have generated across campus. Go Dawgs!

- David

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