More information about changes in Research and Innovation

Drawing of a clock and the word "update" written on a chalkboard.

As announced previously, my title has been changed to Vice President for Research & Innovation (VPRI). One reason for this change is to make the research services offered at Miami University more visible and accessible to those within and outside the university.

Since 2001, we’ve referred collectively to Miami’s research office as the Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship (OARS). However, that name was a source of confusion internally and externally about the various units contained within the office. It obscured the different functions our personnel perform, often making it difficult for Miami researchers to locate the specific services they need and for prospective external partners to connect with us in meaningful ways.

To remedy this situation and to be consistent with my new title, my office will be collectively referred to as Research & Innovation.  As an umbrella unit, we have an over-arching mission to encourage discovery and innovation that connects Miami University to the larger research community and expands knowledge across traditional boundaries.

Within Research & Innovation there are six sub-units with distinct functions:

  • Research & Sponsored Programs
  • Research Ethics & Integrity
  • Office of Research for Undergraduates
  • Innovation & Technology Commercialization
  • Research Computing Support
  • Research Communications

These sub-units have been in place for some time, and nothing about their roles or their operations is changing with the re-naming of my office. However, two of these sub-units have been re-named to more accurately reflect their function. The sub-unit that coordinates submission of external proposals, which was previously lumped in with the generic “OARS” moniker, is now known as Research & Sponsored Programs. The sub-unit formerly known as Technology Transfer and Business Partnerships is now Innovation & Technology Commercialization.

Even though Miami faculty and staff will experience few, if any, immediate changes in the way they interact with my office, I want to take this opportunity to share information about each sub-unit’s personnel, mission, and services.

Research & Sponsored Programs (RSP)

Staffed by Director of Research and Sponsored Programs Anne Schauer and Assistant Director of Proposal Development Amy Cooper and part-time by Associate Director of Research Communications Heather Johnston, RSP encourages, facilitates, and supports the university community in its effort to obtain external funding for all forms of research, education, scholarly, creative, service, and outreach activities. Specific services offered by RSP include:

  • Assistance locating targeted funding opportunities;
  • Assistance with proposal development, including budget preparation;
  • Approval and submission of research proposals;
  • Coordination between Miami researchers and external sponsors
  • Review, negotiation, and approval of research contracts and agreements;
  • Review, negotiation, and acceptance of grant awards;
  • Guidance on all aspects of proposal development and submission;
  • Promotion of interdisciplinary collaborative proposal development on topics of national interest;
  • Non-financial post-award administration, including sub-award services.

Research Ethics & Integrity (REI)

Once known as Research Compliance, this unit is staffed by Director Neal Sullivan and Associate Director Jennifer Sutton. REI supports the Miami community in fulfilling the professional, contractual, legal, and ethical obligations intrinsic to research activities. Specifically, REI provides administrative support to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for research involving humans as subjects, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), and the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) program. In addition to reviewing and managing records, REI:

  • Reviews qualifying minimal risk human subjects research;
  • Conducts training for researchers interacting with the IRB, IACUC, IBC, and the RCR program;
  • Provides ad hoc advice regarding methods that adhere to ethical principles as researchers plan their activities.

The Office of Research for Undergraduates (ORU)

ORU, which is staffed by Director Joyce Fernandes and Coordinator Martha Weber, champions the vision, marketing, and coordination of research and creative efforts by Miami undergraduates. ORU’s specific services include:

  • Administration of university programs, including research awards and Undergraduate Summer Scholars;
  • Organization of the annual Undergraduate Research Forum, which showcases undergraduate research;
  • Coordination of multi-disciplinary curricular efforts, including the First Year Research Experience (FYRE);
  • Co-curricular support programming, including workshops, seminars, and site visits;
  • Advocacy beyond the university for support of our undergraduate research;
  • Promotion and publicity for Miami students’ research achievements.

Innovation & Technology Commercialization (ITC)

Staffed by Director of External Relations Lisa Dankovich and me, with support from outside contractors, ITC improves the lives of citizens and the economy in the State of Ohio and beyond, by leveraging the assets of the university and of businesses to identify and cultivate innovation and to facilitate commercialization. Serving as the university’s innovation hub to Leverage Academics and Business, the LAB connects faculty, students, and staff from across the university to explore the potential of internal and external technologies for commercialization. The LAB provides an outstanding educational experience for students an develops new businesses by:

  • Cultivating innovation using a “pull” approach that collaboratively develops business start-ups utilizing existing company technology or products;
  • Intentionally connecting economic development agencies and entrepreneurs in the regional start-up ecosystem with student, faculty, and alumni talent;
  • Embedding inclusive innovation throughout the innovation and business development process.

Research Computing Support (RCS)

RCS is staffed by Senior Research Computing Specialists Jens Mueller, Jon Patton, and Greg Reese. RCS enhances research and scholarship at the university by providing expertise about computational methods and resources, developing custom applications, and assisting with the use of specific software packages. Specific services of RCS include:

  • Collaborative support for research projects and for the development of grant proposals;
  • High-performance computing resources;
  • Writing, debugging, and maintaining software;
  • Analysis or visualization of data;
  • Training faculty and students on computer hardware and software used in research;
  • Raising the level of computing technology used in research programs.

Research Communications (RC)

Staffed by Associate Director Heather Johnston, RC facilitates communication within the Miami University research community and between that community and funding agencies, commercial partners, and other external audiences. RC provides general communications consultation and support for Research & Innovation and its constituent units, including writing and editing, design and layout, and information architecture and website maintenance. In addition, RC provides:

  • Oversight and maintenance of websites;
  • An office blog (currently OARS Research News)
  • Writing and editing of articles, promotional copy, press releases, surveys, and other material;
  • Oversight and maintenance of social media accounts
  • Design and layout of publications

Day-to-day operations of Research & Innovation and all six sub-units will be facilitated by  Assistant to the VPRI, Vanessa Gordon. Vanessa will also continue to support the University Senate Committee on Faculty Research (CFR), which includes coordination of applications to the following CFR programs: Distinguished Scholar and Junior Faculty Scholar Awards, the Faculty Research Grants program, and the Publication, Reprint, Exhibition, and Performance (PREP) Costs program.

In the coming months, we will begin phasing out all references to OARS. We appreciate your patience during this transition period and look forward to having you join us on our new platforms once they are in place.


Written by Jim Oris, Vice President for Research & Innovation, Miami University.

Chrysalis photo by Sid Mosdell via Flickr. Update photo via Max Pixel. Both used under Creative Commons license.

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