FY2018 was Miami University’s best year for extramural funding in a decade.
Supported by programs and services of the Office for the Advancement of Research
and Scholarship, faculty and staff attracted 35% more funds over FY2017.
When Robert Frost called Miami University “the most beautiful campus that ever there was,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet was referring to the campus’s physical attributes — the shady lawns, elegant formal gardens, and classic neo-Georgian architecture. But he could just as well have been commenting on what goes on inside our ivy-covered walls. Indeed, the research, creativity, instruction, and service Miami’s faculty pursue on a daily basis are as much a part of Miami’s beauty as our iconic red bricks.
Just as our building and grounds staff work around the clock and across the seasons to maintain Miami’s physical facilities, our researchers, scholars, and creative artists devote countless hours to maintaining Miami’s inner beauty. Not only do these faculty and staff plan and carry out experiments, projects, and programs, they also work tirelessly to find and secure the external funding needed to finance those activities.
Their efforts are paying off. In FY2018, Miami generated $24.1 million in extramural funding, a level greater than in any year since before the Great Recession. Highlights of the work enabled by these funds include the following:
Miami University-AFRL Research Technology Commercialization Accelerator — Miami University and Wright Brothers Institute of Dayton are working together to identify technologies from an Air Force Research Lab portfolio of nearly 1,000 patents that have potential commercial use for public good. Led by associate provost Jim Oris, the Miami University–AFRL Research Technology Commercialization Accelerator collaboration gives Miami support in reviewing and accessing the lab’s entire open portfolio of patents and patent applications. Miami leads programming to connect those technologies with entrepreneurs, funding, and other resources needed to bring the technologies to market. Read more here.
Michael Hatch, Department of Art — Unlike scholars who lack interest in or actively disparage early 19th Century Chinese painting, Michael Hatch, an assistant professor, admires the dynamic appeals works of this period make to non-visual senses, including taste and tactile sensations. A fellowship at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art gave him access to paintings in the Met’s collection and also facilitated his access to works at museums in Asia, which are not usually available, even to academics. Hatch’s research will be published in a manuscript tentatively titled The Senses of Painting in China, 1790-1840. Read more here.
NSF Major Research Instrumentation awards — Miami University received two grant awards, totaling nearly $1.1 million, in the 2017 round of competition for the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program. The national rate of success for proposals submitted to the program is only 20%. The NSF awards supported Miami University’s acquisition of a pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectrometer and a fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) system. Read more here.
Kelly Knollman-Porter, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology — The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the NIH, awarded a grant to Kelly Knollman-Porter to lead a multi-site study on the use of assistive technology to compensate for aphasia-related reading problems. The study will be among the first to test whether text-to-speech software helps people who have lost the ability to understand written language follwing a stroke or brain injury. Read more here.
Dominik Konkolewicz, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry — Dominik Konkolewicz, an assistant professor, recently received a CAREER grant from the Faculty Early Career Development program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his research on polymers. Polymers consist of smaller molecules linked together to form a larger molecule. The resulting macromolecule is like a necklace, with dozens to tens-of-thousands of smaller molecules making up the individual links. When the links in polymer materials — such as wall paint and truck tires — are damaged the materials become useless because they can’t recover their original properties. Konkolewicz’s work focuses on creating links between the chains that can be exchanged for other ones, allowing the material to heal itself when scratched or punctured. Read more here.
John Bowblis and Amy Roberts, Scripps Gerontology Center — As Scripps Gerontology Center research fellows, John Bowblis, associate professor of economics and Amy Roberts, assistant professor of family science and social work, are leading one of the first national studies to assess the impact of social services staffing in nursing homes. With physical and psychosocial functioning tightly intertwined, the pair want to determine whether changes in public policy related to social services staff might lead to better outcomes for patients in nursing homes. Read more here.
We are working more efficiently than ever before. Despite a decrease in proposal submissions from FY2017, our faculty and staff still achieved a 35% increase in total funding for FY2018. Our average award size increased 30%. These data suggest that our faculty and staff are being more strategic in targeting funding opportunities and in communicating the value of their work to sponsors.
The Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship (OARS) has also been strategic. We have dedicated significant human and financial resources to programming and services that support faculty and staff in enhancing their grantsmanship. FY2018 metrics show a clear return on those investments, and help chart our future course.
Although we are gratified by FY2018’s increase in total funding and average award size, we recognize that securing extramural funding is still very much a numbers game: more proposals submitted generally results in more funding granted. So, we will continue to encourage proposal submission through incentives and support services — working harder and smarter.
We also recognize that budget pressures and ever-increasing competition make federal funding unpredictable, at best. That’s why, despite the 50% increase in federal funding we saw between FY2017 and FY2018, we are actively working to diversify our funding portfolio. In particular, we’re strengthening and expanding support for commercialization. Our recent collaboration with the Wright Brothers Institute of Dayton gives us the opportunity to connect promising technologies from the Air Force Research Laboratory’s open portfolio of patents and patent applications with the resources needed to bring them to market.
As always, my team and I are proud to support research, creativity, instruction, and service at Miami University. We remain committed to this work, not just because it’s our job, but because we care deeply about the impact our faculty, staff, and students have on our local community, the State of Ohio, our nation, and the world beyond.
Written by Jim Oris, Associate Provost for Research and Scholarship, Miami University.