Round, metal perpetual calendar. Text: Place Year Over Month. For 55 Yrs. Calendar. 1970-2024. Red Month for Leap Year. Th F S S M Tu W. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 27 28 29 30

Deadlines and events coming up in October

Two pages from a spiral bound calendar, each partially visible. Text: 6 W. 7 T. 8 FR. 9 SA. 7 8 9 10 11. 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16. 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19. 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16.

Be sure to check out the deadlines and events coming up next month:

October 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . Q & A session: Applying for the Undergraduate Summer Scholars program (2:30-3:30pm)
October 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . Application deadline: Doctoral Undergraduate Research Opportunities (DUOS) program
October 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . Application deadline: Undergraduate Research Awards (URA) program Spring 2021 projects
October 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . Office of Research for Undergraduates student and faculty panel: Disciplinary Approaches to Research (4:00pm)
October 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . Office of Research for Undergraduates student and faculty panel: Disciplinary Approaches to Research (11:00am)
October 16 . . . . . . . . . . . Q & A session: Applying for internships (2:30-3:30pm)
October 30 . . . . . . . . . . . Q & A session: Undergraduate research in the humanities (2:30-3:30pm)


Perpetual calendar photo by Bryan Kennedy via Flickr. Paper calendar photo by photosteve101 via Flickr. Both used under Creative Commons license

Four people, each holding an oversized puzzle piece, fit the pieces together.

Get to know Research & Innovation staff on National Research Administrator Day

September 25, 2020, marks the sixth annual National Research Administrator Day. This year, we are commemorating the event by continuing our tradition of profiling staff in various research administration units at Miami University. This year, we introduce you to the team in Research Ethics & Integrity, who provide 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. We also introduce you to the newest member of Research & Sponsored Programs (a team that was featured in our 2018 National Research Administrator Day post) and the Interim Vice President for Research & Innovation. (To learn more about the research administration profession, check out this post from our archive, by former Research & Sponsored Programs team member Tricia Callahan.)


Mike Crowder

Mike Crowder, Interim Vice President for Research

How long have you been a research administrator?
Almost 2 months.

Describe your job in five words or less.
Learn the position (right now)

What’s something that seems obvious to research administrators, but is often misunderstood by other people?
The VPRI job has many facets to it, and ORI oversees many entities on campus. The VPRI will jump from a meeting with a patent attorney, to a meeting with a state legislator, to a meeting with a research center director, to a meeting with business partners, to a meeting with a faculty member with very narrow research issues, all in one morning.

What is your research administrator superpower?
Juggling, right now! I am trying to keep a lot of balls in the air right now, but learning new things is exciting.

If you weren’t a research administrator what job would you have?
A professor, teaching my fermentation class and a biochemistry class, and working with my graduate and undergraduate students in the research lab.

Neal Sullivan

Neal Sullivan, Director of Research Ethics & Integrity

How long have you been a research administrator?
12 years.

Describe your job in five words or less.
Ensuring researchers meet ethical norms.

What’s something that seems obvious to research administrators, but is often misunderstood by other people?
Sometimes, researchers, particularly those conducting human subjects research, provide much more information on applications than we need to conduct a review. A simple project should require a simple description. Providing unneeded information creates more work for the researcher and more work for the reviewers. We need enough information to understand the project and understand that the researchers respect the subjects, but not much more than that. Sometimes more information is needed and the reviewers will not hesitate to ask questions.

What is your research administrator superpower?
Always remembering and applying the fundamentals. We are reviewing each project to ensure it complies with regulations and ethical principles. Not every project needs to incorporate the same elements to meet that objective. The regulations were written to scale oversight to the degree of risk presented by the project. Low risk, low impact activities may proceed with minimal bureaucratic delay, and that is how we try and run this office.

If you weren’t a research administrator what job would you have?
Forest ecologist. My education and degrees are in forest ecology and management and I am a researcher by nature. Pondering about and studying the relationships between the elements in an environment is something I have done for as long as I can remember. By spending less time and energy on such projects, we are able to allocate more resources to those projects that require more rigor.

Jennifer Sutton

Jennifer Sutton, Associate Director of Research Ethics & Integrity

How long have you been a research administrator?
I have been a research administrator for nine of my 13 years at Miami.

Describe your job in five words or less.
Lots and lots of reading!

What’s something that seems obvious to research administrators, but is often misunderstood by other people?
The difference between exempted and expedited research. Exempted applications are reviewed and approved without going to the IRB for review and approval, whereas expedited applications go to the IRB for review and approval. To simplify this process, we call it Level 1 (exempted) and Level 2 (expedited) review and approval.

What is your research administrator superpower?
My superpower is being able to help researchers select the correct application (Level 1 or Level 2) that best suits their study.

If you weren’t a research administrator what job would you have?
You would find me “out to sea” on a cruise ship creating various vlogs for families looking for fun and affordable family vacations! I would have my own travel company that specializes in cruise vacations.

 

CaTia Daniels

CaTia Daniels, Proposal & Contract Specialist

How long have you been a research administrator?
I have been in research administration for 1 year.

Describe your job in five words or less.
Detailed, honesty, integrity, organized, learning.

What’s something that seems obvious to research administrators, but is often misunderstood by other people?
Something that is obvious as a research administrator is the details that are needed to pay attention to when in comes to contracts and proposals. When working with a PI who may not have experience in writing proposals, they learn how detailed they need to be in order to increase their chances of receiving funding.

What is your research administrator superpower?
I think my research administrator superpower is relationship building. Everyone I work with, I always try to give them a great experience because I’m here to assist them with their career goals. So far, so good, I think 🙂

If you weren’t a research administrator what job would you have?
If I wasn’t in research administration, I’d be in grant writing at a nonprofit. That was actually where I started working right out of college, but the transition to research administration has been great!


Updated 09/24/2020 at 10:35am to include information originally omitted from Jennifer Sutton’s response to Question 3. Exempted applications are reviewed and approved without going to the IRB for review and approval, whereas expedited applications go to the IRB for review and approval.

Puzzle piece photo public domain via Max Pixel.

A suit-clad arm is extended to support a GPS location icon.

New Faculty GPS program application open until September 28

The New Faculty Grant Planning and Support (GPS) program is a professional development program designed to support new tenure-track faculty in developing competitive applications for extramural funding programs. Specifically, the program:

  • Helps new faculty map out a plan for which funding opportunities to target in their first five years at Miami
  • Offers new faculty grantsmanship mentorship and support

Program components

New Faculty GPS consists of two phases.

Phase 1 – Individual Development Plan

In Phase 1, each participant works with an external consultant to create an individual development plan (IDP). The IDP will include goals for teaching, research, and service, and will emphasize external grant-seeking. IDPs are meant to be living documents that can grow and change as participants move through the early stages of their careers.

Phase 2 – Proposals for External Funding

Faculty who are selected to participate in Phase 2 will work one-on-one with a consultant-mentor to develop competitive proposals for external funding — one in each of their five years of participation. The consultant-mentor will provide a complete and comprehensive review of the draft application, and provide:

  • An overview of important elements of the proposal
  • Constructive criticism on the draft proposal
  • Guidance on exploring different options for the research agenda and other elements (e.g., education, professional development) that need to be integrated into certain proposals.

Each Phase 2 participant is expected to work with Research & Sponsored Programs to submit at least one proposal for external funding per year of participation and will submit a brief report to their dean and Research & Innovation annually.

Community meetings and other opportunities

Community meetings

Community meetings will be open to both Phase 1 and Phase 2 participants. All participants are expected to attend these meetings in their first two years of participation. Attendance is optional for those in their third through fifth years of participation. Meetings will be held approximately once a month during the academic year.

The overarching goal of these meetings is to build a community of support, so not all meetings will include formal programming. When formal programming is offered, topics will be selected by participants, and may include:

  • Talking to program officers
  • Developing proposal budgets
  • Developing broader impacts plans for NSF proposals
  • Tips/advice from funded researchers
  • Agency-, program-, or opportunity-specific information
  • Research-related intellectual property – publications and patents
  • Research ethics and integrity
  • Research computing support

Programming may be delivered by Research & Innovation staff, other Miami faculty or staff, the participating consultants, or other experts.

Other opportunities

New Faculty GPS is not a writing workshop. However, faculty who would like additional peer support and accountability may choose to join other program participants in optional writing groups. Additional program-specific opportunities for networking and professional development may occasionally be offered, and participants are among the first to be notified about opportunities Research & Innovation makes available to Miami’s broader research community.

Results from previous cohorts

The GPS program began in 2018-2019, and in 2019-2020, we welcomed our second cohort of participants. The majority of participants have reported feeling more confident about future proposal submissions. Many participants also said they had or would apply to a “bigger” or more competitive program and that their proposals were of higher quality than they would have been without their participation in the program. The following were things participants mentioned especially liking about the program:

  • “The accountability and support.”
  • “[Having an] experienced consultant to work on identifying opportunities and writing applications.”
  • “Access to consultants and more connection with [Research & Innovation].”
  • “I have loved working with my consultant, and I also enjoyed some of the professional development sessions quite a bit.”
  • “The flexibility and feeling that the program is responsive to my needs.”
  • “The program helped familiarize me with different resources available at Miami University.”
  • “Learning about the variety of research happening across campus.”
  • “[The] sense of community.”

Application for 2020-2021 cohort

New Faculty GPS is open to tenure-track faculty (including librarians) in their first or second year of appointment. All eligible faculty were emailed directly with an invitation to apply to the program. Any eligible faculty member who did not receive an email invitation should contact me at johnsthb@MiamiOH.edu or 9-1760 if they are interested in applying. Applications are due by 8:00am on Monday, September 28.


Image by mohamed_hassan via Pixabay, used under Creative Commons license.

Round, metal perpetual calendar. Text: Place Year Over Month. For 55 Yrs. Calendar. 1970-2024. Red Month for Leap Year. Th F S S M Tu W. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 27 28 29 30

Deadlines and events coming up in September

Two pages from a spiral bound calendar, each partially visible. Text: 6 W. 7 T. 8 FR. 9 SA. 7 8 9 10 11. 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16. 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19. 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16.

Be sure to check out the deadlines and events coming up this month:

September 4  . . . . . . . . . . . . Q & A session: Applying for URA and IDEA Internal Funding (2:30-3:30pm)
September 7  . . . . . . . . . . . .  Labor Day: Federal agencies and Research & Innovation are closed
September 8  . . . . . . . . . . . . Office of Research for Undergraduates faculty panel: Research in the Virtual World (4:00pm)
September 9  . . . . . . . . . . . . Office of Research for Undergraduates faculty panel: Research in the Virtual World (11:00am)
September 17 . . . . . . . . . . . . Humanities Center talk for undergraduates: The Path to Research in the Humanities (5:00-6:00pm)
September 18  . . . . . . . . . . . Q & A session: Applying for URA and IDEA internal funding (2:30-3:30pm


Perpetual calendar photo by Bryan Kennedy via Flickr. Paper calendar photo by photosteve101 via Flickr. Both used under Creative Commons license

Portraits of Rick Page and Dominik Konkolewicz

Miami chemists’ breakthrough technique enables design at the interface of chemistry and biology

A technique developed by Miami University associate professors of chemistry and biochemistry Dominik Konkolewicz and Rick Page may help enable more rapid and efficient development of new materials for use in pharmaceuticals, biofuels, and other applications.

Konkolewicz and Page’s technique uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology to illuminate how proteins and synthetic polymers interact in chemical substances known as bioconjugates.

Why bioconjugates are useful

Proteins can be used to catalyze chemical reactions that are useful in many applications. For example, protein enzymes are used to produce high-fructose corn syrup and insulin is used to treat diabetes. But some proteins are active for only a very short time or they break down easily, so it’s just not practical – or cost-effective – to use them. Protein bioconjugates overcome proteins’ limitations by attaching synthetic molecules, often polymers, to the protein.

“Proteins have fantastic performance,” Konkolewicz says, “but there’s not a lot of flexibility in the chemistry we can put into a protein. Polymers offer a huge diversity of structure and function that we can incorporate in to extend the life of the protein or enhance its ability to withstand extreme conditions.”

Already there is some commercial development of bioconjugates, such as antibody-drug conjugates used to treat cancer, although the guidelines for how to improve the performance of these substances remains elusive.

Developing new, useful bioconjugates is often difficult and expensive because the process traditionally relies on trial and error: scientists throw a lot of polymer candidates against a proverbial wall of proteins to see what “sticks” in the form of enhanced performance. But just as it doesn’t make sense to throw a tennis ball at a Sheetrocked wall expecting it to stick, it doesn’t make sense to throw certain polymers at certain proteins expecting them to stick.

Accelerating development through rational design

We understand the nature of tennis balls and drywall well enough to know that “sticking” is not a possible outcome of their interaction, but Page says that scientists don’t always understand the nature of proteins and polymers well enough to make similar predictions when it comes to bioconjugation.

“In many cases, we know the structure of the protein, but we don’t know the structure of the polymer. We don’t know what shape it is, where it attaches to the protein, or how it wraps around or interacts with the protein,” Page says.

What’s needed, Konkolewicz and Page say, is a set of rules that would enable rational design of new bioconjugates. Such rules would allow chemists to look at the structure of a target protein and design a polymer molecule of the right size, shape, and function to fit it specifically.

Schematic showing a synthetic polymer (teal tube) conjugated to a protein (cluster of red, blue, and grey spheres). The purple sleeve on the polymer is a reporting group, the key to Konkolewicz and Page’s technique.

“It would be great to be able to say, ‘Okay, here’s the protein I have. Here are the ways I need to stabilize it, and here are the sorts of polymers we can use for that,’” Page says.

The technique Page and Konkolewicz have developed is the first step in enabling the establishment of such a set of rules.

While previous techniques for examining interactions between proteins and polymers in bioconjugates relied on, for instance, neutron beams – very expensive equipment available at a limited number of facilities around the world – the Miami chemists’ technique uses readily available nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology. The key to the technique is placing reporting groups on the synthetic polymers. These reporting groups act something like beacons, allowing researchers to see how close a polymer is to a protein, when the bioconjugate is in an NMR instrument.

The accessibility of NMR technology is important because it vastly increases the capacity of the research community to make discoveries.

“We can’t look at every relevant protein ourselves,” Konkolewicz says. “We’d have to live for 500 years to do that. By making it accessible, we allow other groups to examine their proteins of interest – catalytic proteins, like our lab focuses on, or therapeutic proteins, or whatever type they study. This technique provides scale.”

A breakthrough made possible by Miami’s unique environment

Fundamentally, Konkolewicz and Page’s technique enables chemists from around the globe to collaborate on the establishment of a set of design rules to guide more rapid development of bioconjugates that are both effective and affordable for use in industrial applications, including pharmaceuticals and biofuels. That’s a fitting outcome for a research effort that was itself born out of collaboration.

It’s been historically uncommon for scientists from different subfields to team up as Konkolewicz, a synthetic chemist, and Page, a biochemist, have. Konkolewicz and Page say their advance owes to the fact that Miami University fosters collaboration and encourages exploration across a broad range of expertise.

“The environment that we have here at Miami, and the ability and encouragement for groups to collaborate with each other here, has really set us up in the right environment to come up with this breakthrough technique,” Page says.

Another aspect of Miami’s unique environment is the deep involvement of undergraduate students in research. Four undergraduate students from Konkolewicz’s and Page’s labs were named as authors of an article reporting on their technique, which was recently published in the open-access flagship Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Chemical Science:

  • Caleb Kozuszek, a biochemistry major who worked in Konkolewicz’s lab prior to his graduation in 2020
  • Ryan Parnell, a biochemistry major who worked in Konkolewicz’s lab prior to his graduation in 2020
  • Jonathan Montgomery, a biochemistry major who worked in Page’s lab prior to his graduation in 2020
  • Nicholas Damon, a biology major who worked in Konkolewicz’s lab prior to his graduation in 2018

In addition to mentoring undergraduate members of their respective teams, PhD students Kevin Burridge (Konkolewicz’s lab) and Ben Shurina (Page’s lab) made other substantial contributions to the work and are named as the publication’s first and second authors, respectively. Jamie VanPelt, a former PhD student of Page’s who graduated in 2018, is also named as an author.

Page and Konkolewicz say Miami’s commitment to facilitating research collaborations is further reflected in the level of support they have received from professional staff in the university’s facilities, including EPR instrumentation specialist Rob McCarrick and NMR/MS specialist Theresa Ramelot, both of whom are named as authors on the Chemical Science article.

Konkolewicz and Page’s research was supported by a grant from the U.S. Army Research Office.


Originally appeared as a “Top Story” on Miami University’s News & Events website.

Photos of Rick Page and Dominik Konkolewicz by Miami University. Schematic provided by the Konkolewicz lab.

A world map superimposed with a "COVID-19" stamp.

Funding available for COVID-19 research

Many federal and private sponsors have issued special calls or guidance on using existing funding mechanisms for research on COVID-19, including the following:

Federal funding opportunities can also be found by entering the word “covid” in the search in the keyword field in the “Search Grants” section of grants.gov.

As more opportunities come to our attention, we’ll update the list of COVID-19-related funding opportunities on the Research & Innovation website. Similar lists can also be found on the following organizations’ websites:


Image by TheDigitalArtist via Pixabay, used under Creative Commons license.

A pile of cards, all of which have "change" written on them.

Welcome to our redesign

If you’re a subscriber or a regular reader, you might have found yourself doing a quick double-check of the address bar when you saw this post because it didn’t look like what you were used to!

As promised in an earlier post about changes in our office, we’ve updated our blog template. The new look is a little cleaner, and we’ve reduced the number of post categories. Together, these changes make our content easier to find and easier to read.

Take a look around and use the comments to let us know what you think!


Image by geralt via Pixabay, used under Creative Commons license.

A microphone in a studio.

Podcasts can help pass the social distancing time

An iPhone with earbuds next to a notebook and a pen.

Sure, remote instruction probably means you’re spending more time teaching, rather than less. And when you’re doing it from home, work has a way of expanding to fit the available time — especially if you’re trying to do it while also caring for children who are home from school or daycare. Still, as the coronavirus pandemic — and the requisite social distancing — stretches on, you’ll probably find yourself looking for ways to pass your time at home, and podcasts can fit the bill. Whether you’re new to the podcast renaissance or a devoted listener, you might want to give a listen to some of the following.

Miami podcasts

  • Major Insight showcases Miami students and how they transform academic subjects into lifelong passions.
  • Reframe, the original podcast from the College of Education, Health and Society (EHS), explores the transformative and progressive work being done across the university and throughout the community. Hear insightful interviews and exclusive stories about the faculty, students, and alumni who are addressing some of the most critical issues of our time.

Miami faculty podcasts

  • Chiropractic Science, hosted by associate clinical professor Dr. Dean Smith, gets the word out about chiropractic research. Chiropractors, patients and the public will learn about chiropractic science from the experts who are doing the research.
  • Stats and Stories, hosted by university distinguished professor John Bailer; professor emeritus Richard Campbell; and assistant professor Rosemary Pennington, uses stories to give statistics meaning and statistics to give stories credibility.

Other podcasts (recommendations via H-Net)

  • Backstory with the American History Guys is a public radio show and podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh, who give historical perspective to topics in the headlines.
  • Cold Call distills the Harvard Business School’s legendary case studies into podcast form. Hosted by Brian Kenny, the podcast airs every two weeks and features HBS faculty discussing cases they’ve written and the lessons they impart.
  • Everything Hertz goes everywhere the life sciences meet the biological sciences A bi-weekly conversation-style podcast with Dan Quintana and Dr. James Heathers, Everything Hertz explores the nuts and bolts of scientific research and academic life issues, like writing and publishing, the PhD to postdoc transition, and work-life balance.
  • In the Harvard Medical Labcast, Harvard Medical School scientists tackle a variety of important questions, ranging from how your neurons work to which genes play a role in particular diseases. This podcast provides context and highlights the latest trends in medical education and biomedical research through interviews and analysis.
  • Sidedoor is a podcast from the Smithsonian, produced and hosted by Tony Cohn and Megan Detrie. It tells stories about science, art, history, humanity and where they unexpectedly overlap.
  • Talking Machines is a podcast about the world of machine learning. Producer Katherine Gorman and Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Associate Ryan Adams speak with experts in the field about the latest research. Talking Machines is an independent production of Tote Bag Productions.

Microphone photo by Stock snap via Pixabay. iPhone photo via PeakPX. Both used under Creative Commons license.

Graphic of digital 1's and 0's on a high-tech looking background.

Data management plan resources are available

Screenshot of DMPTool.org. Links at top of page: Learn. Sign In. Title: DMPTool: Build your Data Management Plan. Ribbon: Welcome. Create data management plans that meet institutional and funder requirements. Get started [button]. Below image: DMPTool by the numbers: 28,787 users; 25,051 Plans [More link]; 229 Participating Institutions [More link]. Top 5 templates: NSF-SBE Social, Behavioral, Economic Sciences; DMP Template from DCC; Department of Energy (DOE): Office of Science; Digital Curation Centre; NIH-GEN: Generic. DMPTTool News: New DMPTool launched today [link]. Go to blog. Rss feed icon [link]. Links: About; Terms of use & Privact; Accessibility; GitHub; Contact us. Twitter and RSS feed icon links. Footer: DMPTool logo. DMPTool is a service of the University of California Curation Center of the California Digital Library. Copyright 2010-2018 The Regents of the University of California.

For some time, the NSF has required data management plans, and now the NIH has released a draft policy on making data sets used in NIH-funded research available to other researchers. (Read more about the new NIH policy from ScienceMag.org.)

Thankfully, resources for managing data are available to Miami faculty:

  • DMPTool.org allows you to create, review, and share data management plans that meet institutional and funder requirements.
  • Staff in the Center for Digital Scholarship are available for personalized reviews of data management plans prior to proposal submission.

To get started with DMPTool. org:

  • Navigate to DMPTool.org.
  • Click the big Get Started button in the middle of the screen.
  • Select Miami University (OH) from the drop-down list of institutions on the next page.
  • Click the green Next button.
  • Enter your Miami unique ID and password on the MUNet Login Page.
  • On the next page, click the green Create New DMP button and follow the prompts.

For questions about using DMPTool.org or to arrange a personalized review of your data management plan, contact Eric Johnson, Numeric and Spatial Data Librarian, Center for Digital Scholarship, King Library (513-529-4152).


Data image by By DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

 

Faculty converse at Research & Innovation's 10th Annual Proposals & Awards Reception.

Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night stayed Miamians from the 10th Annual Proposals and Awards Reception

Biology’s Mike Robinson (left) chats with Scripps Gerontology Center’s Kate de Medeiros at Research & Innovation’s 10th Annual Proposals & Awards Reception.

It’s become something of a tradition for the weather to be less-than-ideal on the date of Research & Innovation’s Proposals & Awards Reception, and this year was no exception. Despite having experienced a very mild winter overall, the afternoon of February 12 began rainy and ended slushy and slippery. Still, close to 60 intrepid PIs, chairs, deans, and support personnel braved the elements to join Research & Innovation staff for drinks and appetizers in King Library’s AIS. In addition to temporary refuge from the increasingly solid precipitation, each attendee received a spiral notebook with an assortment of sticky notes and flags as a token of thanks from Research & Innovation.


Photos by Research & Innovation.