Research development tools increase visibility and extramural funding

A bicycle multi-tool

Because competition for decreasing Federal funding is increasingly stiff, institutions across the nation are investing in research development activities that help them diversify and remain relevant in the funding arena. Miami is no exception.

Research development

Research development is a set of strategic plans and activities designed to increase the capacity of individual researchers, teams, and institutions to be more competitive in attracting extramural funding.

Research development extends beyond identifying sources for external funding. It begins with long-term positioning of individuals, teams, and institutions to be competitive for funding. Examples of research development include:

  • Strategic planning by the faculty, departmental and college administration, and central research administration
  • Team-building to leverage individual strengths to tackle a common problem
  • Assessment of funding opportunities for fit with institutional strengths (such as being a leader in undergraduate research and education)
  • Seed funding to build teams and collect data to increase the likelihood of extramural funding
  • Developing partnerships with local business and industry
  • Mentoring for faculty new to grant writing
  • Peer review of proposals prior to submission
  • Facilitation of collaborations between departments, colleges, and entities outside the institution
  • Proposal editing and assistance with proposal writing/development

Research development at Miami

Effective proposal development cannot happen in isolation. In OARS, we are working to expand our current research development offerings to include:

  • A research office that promotes strong connections among faculty and between graduate and undergraduate research and that creates an exceptional “hands-on” learning environment
  • Incentives for departments, colleges, and centers to increase proposal submissions
  • Facilitation of internal and external partnerships that can enhance opportunities for external funding, technology transfer, entrepreneurial research, and economic development
  • Identification of teams and existing infrastructure that can support “the next big thing”
  • Enhanced research infrastructure and greater visibility of that infrastructure throughout the state and nation
  • A diverse funding portfolio that taps into new sources of external funding to offset diminishing Federal funds
  • A partnership with the Center for Teaching Excellence to assist faculty with finding a balance between teaching, service, and research
  • A peer mentoring program for proposal development and review
  • Enhanced visibility for the activities of Miami’s research centers and institutes to potential internal and external partners

Moving the research enterprise forward

To reach our goals, we will need to partner with faculty and departmental and college administrators. We will also need to expand support for research and grant activities throughout the institution. To these ends, OARS has developed an aggressive strategic plan, which if implemented should help us move toward and even beyond our 2020 Plan goal for external funding. We are actively working with the provost, the academic deans, and University Advancement to turn the strategic plan into an action plan. Elements of these plans are aligned with university academic priorities and they address many of the new initiatives proposed by President Crawford. More information will be provided later in the academic year.


Written by Tricia Callahan, Director, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

Wrench photo by Tookapic via Pexels. Multi-tool photo by Armchair via Wikimedia Commons. Both used under Creative Commons license.

 

Tricia Callahan

OARS Director bids Miami a fond farewell

Tricia Callahan gets a hug goodbye from Miami professor Ben Gung.

A few years ago, Miami put forth a call for essays asking students to reflect on what wisdom they have gained from the heritage of the institution, connecting “Old Miami” to their experiences as current undergraduates. Being a Miami alumnae, a current Miami employee, and having two daughters who attended Miami, I nostalgically put forth an essay because at that time I couldn’t help but think about all Miami had meant, and continued to mean to me.

As I prepare to leave Miami for my new position at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, I find myself again reflecting on what Miami means to me. Only this time instead of nostalgia, my reflections are filled with a tinge of sadness. I will be sad to leave this place because of the people of Miami. During the last nine years (I can’t believe it’s been that long), I have had the pleasure of working with many of you on your grants and contracts. I’ve gotten to see your projects come to fruition and your undergraduate and graduate students grow (some of whom have written and received their own grants). I’ve had the pleasure of being invited to your students’ senior capstone/research presentations and the delight of sharing in your news when you were funded. I’ve also been there to share in your disappointments and help you work through grant and administrative setbacks — we weathered them together.

In the OARS office, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with and learning from my counterpart, Anne Schauer. She really knows her stuff, so rely on her knowledge to assist you. And please treat her kindly when I am gone as she will be alone in helping the entire university research community get their budgets in order, their grant proposals submitted, their contracts reviewed and issued, their progress reports turned in, and more. Be certain to give her an extra early heads up!

I have also had the pleasure of working with a great editor, task master, and probably one of the most organized people I’ll ever meet — Heather Johnston. I have great respect for her, and I know she’ll go far. (BTW, if you ever need editorial assistance, she is your go-to person.) And then there is Vanessa Gordon, the glue who holds us all together. She can get you a report on the state of funding at the institution while booking a room for your next event all while processing, organizing, and juggling three staplers, a proposal file, and a payment requisition. She is AMAZING, and add to that, she is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Speaking of nice people, it is your fault (the collective you) that I landed the position in Colorado. I write this because in my interview I was able to honestly say that I worked in a place that I love, with people I love. And when I was asked by the search committee, “How have you handled a situation in which a faculty has been upset or irate with you?” I was able to respond that I’ve not had to. It’s simply a matter of being nice to each other. I don’t know if it’s something in the Oxford water or if it’s just part of the Miami Code of Love and Honor, but whatever it is, it’s working. Keep up the good work.

Just a few more things before I go. First, many of you have asked, “What will you be doing at CSU?” I have been hired to be their “Senior Research Education and Information Officer,” which translates into my developing an educational/professional development training program for their sponsored research administrative staff and faculty. I will also help them with policy development. (You know, those things that our Federal auditors look to see if we have in place to ensure we are keeping a watchful eye on how grant funds are administered).

Second, we have a wonderful compliance staff (Neal Sullivan and Jen Sutton) as well as a great working relationship with our grant accountants (Linda Manley, Cindy Green, Kathy Kihm, and Paula Murray) — another great group of individuals. Not many institutions are so fortunate in having their compliance and pre- and post-award teams work together in harmony. We run a tight ship with a lean crew, but it’s a friendly crew that works together to ensure the ship remains upright and on-course.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Jim Oris. I was fortunate that I came when I did in 2008, as Dr. Oris started within a month or so of my arrival. I’ve had good bosses and not-so-good ones — Jim is a great one. He is a great leader and mentor, and for that I am thankful. I am thankful that he allows his staff the latitude to do the good work we have learned to do and that he supports us in our professional development. He values input from the entire team on shaping the direction, building, and supporting sponsored research at Miami and provides a vision for the research enterprise that is far-reaching. He is a leader to be emulated. (By the way, you can blame him too for my landing the job in Colorado, as he let me try, and sometimes fail, while supporting my professional growth in sponsored research 100%).

So today if I had to write an essay reflecting on what wisdom I have gained from the heritage of the institution, connecting “Old Miami” to its current state, I would have to shorten it down to: “To think that in such a place, I led such a life.”

Thank you all so very much for nine wonderful years! Please keep in touch via Linkedin, Facebook or good old fashioned e-mail (tricia.callahan@colostate.edu).


Written by Tricia Callahan, Director, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

Photos by Alan Schauer for OARS.

A ladder reaches into the sky.

Virtual workshop provides advice to prospective applicants to career development programs

Road sign says, "Career Get started now"

The purpose of a faculty career development program is to support an investigator in his or her research and instructional development. Some agencies, like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have programs that support an investigator at various stages in their career, from beginner, to mid-career, to senior research scientist. Others, like the National Science Foundation (NSF) and some non-Federal agencies, focus on early career development.

Because every agency is different, their respective career development programs have different goals and eligibility requirements. For a comprehensive list of agency-funded career development programs, visit the UC Berkeley Sponsored Programs website.

On Wednesday, March 15, Dr. Carl Batt, Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor at Cornell University, presented a virtual workshop to Miami University faculty on proposal development and career programs, with a special emphasis on the NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program (NSF CAREER). Dr. Batt shared best practices for developing goals, objectives, and activities for career-focused applications.

Contact the program officer

The first step Batt emphasized for faculty considering a career (or any) grant proposal is to contact the program officer. With funding rates at or below 10%, it is imperative that researchers understand their target funding agency and that they contact the relevant program officer prior to developing a proposal.

Define the problem

Once an appropriate agency and program have been identified, the next step is to define the problem. An applicant needs to identify gaps in the current knowledge-base that they will address in their research plan. Batt suggested investigators stay ahead of the curve, while taking care not to get so far ahead as to be out-of-range of their peer reviewers.

Craft specific objectives

Next, Batt said, is to craft specific objectives. Batt cautioned applicants against developing unrelated objectives. Instead, objectives must be cohesive to address a particular goal. If objectives are too independent, then reviewers may perceive an application to be proposing more than one project– an issue that will keep the proposal from being funded.

Outline a research plan for each objective

Finally, outline a research plan for each objective. Batt encouraged the use of timelines and strategies for dealing with anticipated outcomes/pitfalls.

NSF CAREER

The NSF CAREER program is meant to support teacher-scholars while they build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in STEM research and outreach. For this reason, a CAREER application requires a long-range overview of the applicant’s development plan. Batt pointed out that this long-range perspective makes the NSF CAREER program different from a single-project grant. Another thing that makes a CAREER application  different from a project proposal is that it integrates research and education — both the applicant’s own continuing eduction and how they plan to share their knowledge through instruction and outreach activities. Despite the emphasis on education, Batt cautioned prospective applicants to be aware that “an excellent education plan will not overcome a bad research plan.”

To be eligible for NSF CAREER, faculty must:

  • Hold a Ph.D. in a field supported by NSF
  • Be employed in a tenure-track (or equivalent) position
  • Be untenured as of October 1, 2017
  • Not have submitted to more than three CAREER competitions or received a prior NSF CAREER award

For more information on the NSF CAREER program, other career development programs or general grantsmanship, contact your OARS representative.


Written by Tricia Callahan, Director, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

Ladder photo by Charles Rondeau via PublicDomainPictures.net. “Get started now” photo by Pixabay via Pexels. Both public domain.

A hand holds a set of car keys.

Writing a grant proposal is a lot like buying a car

A salesperson and a customer shake hands in front of a car.

Like buying a vehicle, writing a grant proposal is an important investment worth taking the time to do right. Doing research to ensure you are on the right lot and looking at the type of vehicle that best suits your needs will reduce wasted time and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. From there, all that’s left to do is narrow down your options and negotiate the best price.

Do your research

When shopping for a car, research is important to ensure you find the one that best suits your needs. Does the car offer all the options you need? For instance, do you often haul your children’s furniture from home to dorm and back again? If so, a Mini Cooper likely isn’t your best option. Also, knowing your own constraints (e.g. finances, height, family size) might dictate whether you’ll be shopping for a new car or a used one, a compact or a sedan, a Lexus or a Kia.

The same holds true when searching for a grant sponsor. Do the sponsoring agency and particular program fit your project needs? If you only need $1,000 in materials to carry out your project, you shouldn’t search for a Federal grant opportunity because those are usually reserved for projects with bigger budgets. Instead, look for internal and local sources of funds, such as your department, college, or the Committee on Faculty Research (CFR). If you are going for Federal funding, it’s important to choose the right agency. If your research project is focused on a specific health outcome, likely you need to do your shopping on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) lot, not at the National Science Foundation (NSF) dealership. Knowing and understanding the mission of the sponsoring organization is of utmost importance prior to developing your grant application. If missions are misaligned, then you need to find another dealer.

Narrow down your shopping list

With literally hundreds of car makes and models available, how do you decide which is best for you? When considering your purchase, everything counts, from number of seats and doors to size, performance, and cost. The key is to narrow down your search by creating a short list of must-have features, then doing some side-by-side comparisons.

When searching for a sponsor, you may or may not have hundreds of options depending on your project needs. The chart below offers guidelines for narrowing down your search options.

Funding Source Typical Duration Average Award Size Impact
Horizon 2020 1-5 years $50,000-$500,000 National-Global
U.S. Federal funding agencies 1-5 years $25,000-$500,000 National
State agencies 1-3 years $10,000-$100,000 Statewide
Local agencies 1 year $1,000-$5,000 Local-Statewide

Know when the price is right

Once you’ve selected the model, options, and color, it’s time to get serious about price. The key to successful negotiation is knowing the value of the car, the invoice price, and the MSRP. In other words, what is the dealer’s limit? Also, what is your limit? Calculate what you can afford.

When writing a budget, you need to know the sponsor’s limit. Is there a cap or ceiling on the amount of funding you can request? If there isn’t a cap, is there a typical amount awarded by the program to which you are applying? Are there specific items the sponsor won’t pay for, like major equipment or personnel? Also, will your budgetary needs be supported by the sponsor? Ask for what you need and don’t sell your project short. If a sponsor cannot support a major piece of equipment that you need to conduct your research, then you either need to find a way to support that equipment (e.g., internal equipment funds from OARS or budgeting for equipment rental rather than purchase) or find a new or additional sponsor.

Take a test drive

Test-driving can help you make your final decision, so take your time with it and be sure to drive on both city streets and the highway. Don’t feel like you need to rush the process. Instead, use this time to pay attention to the little things: road noise, the number of cup holders and USB outlets, and extra features you hadn’t noticed before. After the purchase, it’s too late, so leave ample time for this important feedback.

The same holds true with grant applications- test drive them with the sponsor. Contact the sponsor early with your project idea. Many sponsors have a program officer who is responsible for answering questions regarding particular programs. The program officer wants quality applications that meet the mission of the agency and program, so they want to hear from you. As soon as you identify a program, contact the program officer and ask if you can share a one-page concept paper that includes your project goals and objectives, along with a little background detailing the need for, and significance of, the project.

Once you have a green light from the program officer, test-drive your application with colleagues both in and outside your area of expertise. Doing this will allow you to fine tune your application, ensuring it is understandable to an informed audience and ensuring an error-free application. Once you submit the application, it’s too late to make changes, so leave ample time for collection of this important data.

Have fun with it

Both buying a car and writing a grant proposal can be harrowing processes. Try to take the hassle out of both by beginning early, doing your homework, reading reviews (or sample applications), and working with people who are knowledgeable about the process. For car buying, this should be a salesperson. For writing a grant proposal, this should be your OARS representative. We are here to help and have years of experience submitting to hundreds of programs while getting feedback and advice from dozens of program officers and grants management folks regarding common pitfalls. Additionally, we can provide information commonly needed to complete forms (e.g., DUNS and EINs), and we can assist with budget development and help route your proposal through the internal approval eSPA system, allowing you to spend more of your time on writing your narrative, communicating with your program officer, and tidying up your final draft.

Just like TrueCar and similar services help take the hassle out of the car buying process, OARS can help take the hassle out of the grant submission process. So give us a call!


Written by Tricia Callahan, Director, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

Car keys photo by Negative Space via Pexels. Handshake photo by Legal Tell All via Vimeo. Both used under Creative Commons license.

Algorithmic stair steps carved into a piece of wood.

Maximize grant success with tips from former NIH staffer

These words are written in chalk on a chalkboard: Success. Go get it.

On Thursday, November 3, Dr. Norman Braveman, Miami alumnus, former senior member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) extramural program, and current current President of Braveman BioMed Consultants, spoke with faculty in Miami University’s Department of Psychology about applying for funding from the NIH. This is the second of two reports summarizing Dr. Braveman’s advice. You can read the first one here.


In a presentation titled “Maximizing Your Grant Success: A Strategic Approach to Grant Writing,” Dr. Norman Braveman emphasized the importance of a proposal’s potential impact on advancing the field as a very key element required to ensure proposal success. In addition to lack of impact Dr. Braveman also identified other reasons a proposal might not be successful, including:

  • Lack of focus
  • Lack of original ideas
  • Insufficient experience of PI or research team
  • No proposed safety net in case problems arise
  • Unrealistic amount of work to be accomplished
  • Unclear or unjustified experimental approach
  • Failure to follow guidelines

In order to maximize grant success, Braveman suggested beginning each proposal with an explicit statement on the purpose of the proposed study, beginning,  “The purpose of the proposed study is . . .” Beginning with a brief lead in and moving quickly to the aims of the proposal will help the writer keep focused on the purpose of the proposal and will make the purpose clear to the reviewers.

Following the intro and specific aims (i.e., objectives), should be a hypothesis and an explanation of how the investigator plans to test the hypothesis (i.e., approach or methods). Using the specific aims as a guide, the methods and analysis should flow naturally from the project’s objectives.

One strategy for successful proposal writing Braveman shared is the concept paper. A concept paper will help elucidate the problem/issues to be addressed and can help to identify gaps that need to be addressed. Like the specific aims, the concept paper can help focus proposal writing and can be used as a tool to facilitate discussion with a sponsor prior to proposal submission.

Typical format for a concept paper is 3-4 pages. The concept paper is not supposed to be a complete application, rather it is high-level overview of the problem to be addressed, the purpose (aims or objectives) of the proposed research, the significance or impact to the field, and brief descriptions of the approach to be taken and the capabilities of the research team, following this outline:

  • Project Purpose – What are the objectives of the proposed study?
  • Problem/Background – Why does this topic need to be studied? What gaps or clarifications in the field need to be addressed?
  • Significance – Why is this study important to the field? What impact will the outcomes have on people, processes, and so on?
  • Aims – What hypotheses will be tested to address the problem?
  • Design/Analysis – What approach will be used to test the hypotheses and why?
  • Team – What roles will key participants play and what experience do they have?

Braveman also emphasized good writing as key to success. As William Raub, Past Deputy Director of the NIH, said, “No amount of grantsmanship will turn a bad idea into a fundable one . . . but there are many outstanding ideas that are camouflaged by poor grantsmanship.”

In terms of grantsmanship and writing protocol, Braveman emphasized language, style, and organization in grant writing. “You aren’t writing a poem,” Braveman reminds us. The language and style must match the reviewers’ expectations. Additionally, organization is key. Points should be linear and logical so that the reviewer knows where the writer is going with the proposal and can follow the logic of the argument. Braveman also warned against including extraneous material. “Address only the criteria that reviewers will use to assess your application,” he said. On the other hand, Braveman warns, “If you don’t write it, it doesn’t exist for the reviewer.” In other words, no reviewer can read your mind.

Braveman concluded with these final thoughts on successful grant writing:

  • Peer review is a judgment, not a tutorial. You should not submit a working draft as a final proposal.
  • Always put your best foot forward.
  • Don’t fall in love with your drafts because drafts are meant to be replaced with something better.
  • Rely on colleagues to provide peer review prior to submitting your proposal
  • In the words of William Zinsser in On Writing Well, “Good writing . . . keeps the reader reading from one paragraph to the next.”

Written by Tricia Callahan, Director, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

Stair step photo by Jared Tarbell via Flickr, used under Creative Commons license. “Success” photo by Gerd Altmann, via Pexels, public domain.

Two researchers in lab coats look through separate lenses on the same microscope.

Former NIH staffer reveals grant review process

A stylized representation of two people, one of whom has a speech bubble with the word YES! and the other of whom has a speech bubble that says NO?

 

“No amount of grantsmanship will turn a bad idea into a fundable one . . . but there are many outstanding ideas that are camouflaged by poor grantsmanship.”

-William Raub, Past Deputy Director of the NIH

The mission of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is to seek fundamental knowledge that will enhance health, lengthen lifespan, and reduce illness and disability. Yearly, Congress provides funding so that NIH can help meet this mission and its goals of supporting creative discoveries and innovative research. While innovation and significance are core to the NIH review process, researchers must instill a high degree of confidence that they have the training, experience, methodology, and supportive institutional environment to be successful in their research endeavors.

On Thursday, November 3, Dr. Norman Braveman, Miami alumnus, former senior member of the NIH extramural program, and current current President of Braveman BioMed Consultants, shared with faculty in Miami University’s Department of Psychology the importance of understanding the NIH review process for successful grantsmanship. Not only should a grant proposer understand the review process, they should also understand the mission of the NIH and most importantly of the institute or center (IC) to which they are applying. Braveman suggested going to the IC website to get a snapshot of the IC strategic plan prior to formulating project objectives so as to focus your research on areas of current importance to the mission of the IC.

Braveman began by providing a 50,000-foot overview of the NIH grant review process. Most applications are assigned to the Center for Scientific Review (CSR), where they undergo initial scientific merit review. Some applications may undergo initial peer review in a specific IC, as specified in the funding opportunity announcement (FOA). Understanding where your proposal will be reviewed (CSR or IC) and by whom (e.g., scientific review group) can help you target your application accordingly.

A flow chart describing NIH review process. The chart starts with Researcher idea and Institution. An solid arrow then leads to Grant Application (R01, R03, R21, K01, K08, etc.). A solid line leads to NIH/CSR Referral and Review. From there, there are two solid arrows. The first leads to IC/Program, which is the end of that chain. The second arrow leads to Initial Peer Review CSR or IC. A solid arrow leads from Initial Peer Review CSR or IC to Review Summary Statement. There are two solid arrows leading from Review Summary Statement. The first leads to PO/Applicant, and there is a dotted line that leads from there to Secondary Review National Advisory Council. The second solid arrow leads from Review Summary Statement to IC Decision Process. From IC Decision Process, there are two options: 1 - funded (represented by a handful of cash) and 2 - unfunded (represented by a thumbs-down). From unfunded, a solid arrow labeled revision leads back to the start - Researcher idea and institution.
This flow chart from Dr. Braveman’s presentation shows how the NIH review process works.

While NIH review criteria include significance, investigator(s), innovation, approach, and environment, Braveman suggested that the un-scored “Specific Aims” section is the most important part of any NIH grant. It is in this section that researchers tell the reviewers about the purpose and importance of their project. The specific aims may determine whether a reviewer wants to read more or set the proposal aside — which equates to getting triaged or not discussed and/or scored.

If the specific aims are clear, concise, and attention-grabbing, then the proposal may be discussed by the study section. It is important to note that any proposal that has been triaged can be pulled into the discussion by any of the reviewers serving on the study section. Proposals that are discussed receive a score from 1- 9, with 1 being “exceptional” and 9 being “poor.” Average scores are multiplied by 10, then scores from all proposals from that review round are percentile-ranked.

Table describing the NIH review scoring system. The first column is Score, the second Descriptor and the third Additional Guidance on Strengths/Weaknesses. Data in the rows are as follows: 1/Exceptional/Exceptionally strong with essentially no weaknesses. 2/Outstanding/Extremely strong with negligible weaknesses. 3/Excellent/Very strong with only some minor weaknesses. 4/Very Good/Strong but with numerous minor weaknesses. 5/Good/Strong but with at least one moderate weakness. 6/Satisfactory/Some strengths but also some moderate weaknesses. 7/Fair/Some strengths but with at least one major weakness. 8/Marginal/A few strengths and numerous major weaknesses. 9/Poor/Very few strengths and numerous major weaknesses.
This table from Dr. Braveman’s presentation describes the NIH review scoring system.

Once proposals are scored and ranked, they go to the National Advisory Council for second-level review. This council reviews the nature of the proposals submitted to see how they fit into the objectives of the NIH and into the objectives of the current IC. Considerations such as how project ideas may work synergistically to answer larger questions are taken into account in making funding decisions. Therefore, it may be the case that one proposal that doesn’t score as well as another may get funded because it addresses a question that no other proposal addresses and is currently important to the mission of the IC.

Another important component in the NIH decision making process is the program officer (PO). The PO interacts with the National Advisory Council and should be able to speak on behalf of any given proposal. It is important to contact the PO early in the proposal development phase to ensure:

  • Your proposal objectives match the current program or IC objectives
  • The PO understands your objectives in case he or she needs to advocate to the National Advisory Council

In addition to establishing a working relationship with the PO, other things to keep in mind when writing the NIH proposal include:

  • NIH and IC objectives
  • Reviewers read 20-25 applications three times a year, so yours needs to be meaningful and well-written
  • You should write to the NIH review criteria: significance, investigator(s), innovation, approach, and environment
  • Use the biosketch to help establish capabilities of the investigator(s)
  • Use the “Resources” section to elaborate on the appropriateness of the environment

Remember that when writing an NIH — or any — grant proposal, as Francis Bacon said, “knowledge is power.” Be certain to do your homework and understand the funding agency, as well as the review criteria and review process to increase your chances of funding success.


Written by Tricia Callahan, Director, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

Microscope image by the National Cancer Institute, via Wikimedia Commons, used under public domain. YES!/NO? illustration by I and Materia via Wikimedia Commons, used under Creative Commons license. Flow chart and table illustrations by Dr. Norm Braveman, used with permission.

Two SEE participants relax over lunch at the New Economic School.

Final days of Russian exchange cement avenues for continued dialogue

SEE participants engage in a roundtable discussion at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences.
SEE participants engage in a roundtable discussion at the New Economic School.

OARS Director and active NCURA member Tricia Callahan is currently in Russia participating in an NCURA-US/Russia Social Expertise Exchange (SEE). She is blogging about her experience in a special series of posts here on OARS Research News.The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the US-Russia Social Expertise Exchange or Eurasia Foundation.

Read Callahan’s other reports here and here.


Days 3 and 4: Thursday, November 10 and Friday, November 11

Day 3 of SEE was held at the Moscow State University of Railway Engineering (MIIT). Administrators from several Russian institutions — including European University, MIIT, the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, the New Economic School, and the University of Tyumen — were able to ask questions of their U.S. counterparts and to discuss ideas for establishing a network of Russian research administrators.

We were delighted to be joined by students from the Institute of International Transport Communications, who came interested to listen in on the discussions.

The exchange ended on Day 4, at the New Economic School. We were joined by both research faculty and administrators, who shared best practices and ideas for overcoming challenges, including administrative burden. Like with many of our sessions, time passed too swiftly.

Engaging and informative, the four days of social exchange were just the beginning of conversations between faculty and administrators from the U.S. and Russia. Many of the topics discussed need more dialogue and there are still many topics to be explored. We are thankful that the Eurasia Foundation, NCURA, and our newfound collaborations and friendships will facilitate continued dialogue.

Thank you to the Eurasia Foundation for bringing us together, securing the meeting locations, coordinating daily activities, and providing financial support. Special thanks to Maryna Marchanka, Fellowships Officer with Eurasia Foundation SEE, for making all of the travel arrangements and ensuring that we had a productive week of exchange.


Updated November 28 to correct mistaken references to the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. Callahan was actually at the New Economic School on Day 4 of her SEE experience.

Written by Tricia Callahan, Director, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University and Special Exchange Participant, sponsored by the Eurasia Foundation. Photos by Tricia Callahan.

NCURA-US/Russia Social Expertise Exchange (SEE) participants participate in a discussion.

Second day of Russian exchange highlights need for communication between and within networks

Konstantin Kokarev holds a microphone as he speaks to an audience.
Konstantin Kokarev of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences talked about the infrastructure and administrative challenges Russian faculty face when trying to find and apply for grants.

OARS Director and active NCURA member Tricia Callahan is currently in Russia participating in an NCURA-US/Russia Social Expertise Exchange (SEE). She is blogging about her experience in a special series of posts here on OARS Research News.The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the US-Russia Social Expertise Exchange or Eurasia Foundation.

Read Callahan’s report on Day 1 here.


Day 2: Wednesday, November 9

After opening comments and introductions among SEE members, organizations, and institutions, Shandra White, Director of Sponsored Projects and Research Enhancement at The George Washington University (GWU), shared about support services for researchers at her institution.

After a recent restructure, the sponsored research office of GWU now makes an investment in growing sponsored research by providing:

  • Access to funding opportunities
  • Consultants for research and proposal development
  • Seed funding for research programs

The return on investment has helped grow sponsored funding at GWU and has helped  alleviate administrative burden on faculty who engage in grant activities.

Following Ms. White, Konstantin Kokarev of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences talked about the infrastructure and administrative challenges Russian faculty face when trying to find and apply for grants. Although Kokarev acknowledged differences in institutional structure, size, history and goals, he said our shared challenges make communication key between and within our networks.

Rounding out the morning, staff from NCURA shared opportunities NCURA offers for professional development and networking in the field of research administration. Central to their presentation was a 50,000-foot view of the research administrator as well as NCURA publications and programs, including a recently established global arm.


Updated November 14

Written by Tricia Callahan, Director, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University and Special Exchange Participant, sponsored by the Eurasia Foundation. Photos by Tricia Callahan.

View of St. Petersburg, Russia, as seen from the colonnade of St. Isaac's Cathedral.

OARS staffer reports on first day of Russian exchange experience

European University at St. Petersburg logo

OARS Director and active NCURA member Tricia Callahan is currently in Russia participating in an NCURA-US/Russia Social Expertise Exchange (SEE). She is blogging about her experience in a special series of posts here on OARS Research News. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the US-Russia Social Expertise Exchange or Eurasia Foundation.


Day 1: Tuesday, November 8

“What opportunities for collaboration might there be between U.S. and Russian institutions?” was the central question during my first day of SEE at the European University in St. Petersburg, Russia. More specifically, what opportunities currently exist, and might exist, for collaborations between Miami University and the European University?

The European University  is a private graduate institution focused on Russian humanities and social sciences, offering one- to two-year MA programs in Eurasian Studies and Energy Politics. While the language of instruction is English, additional educational opportunities include studies in the Russian language as well as opportunities for undergraduates to engage in a semester of study abroad in Russia.

In addition to undergraduate exchange, the European University is currently exploring the feasibility of including undergraduate degree programs. As a representative of Miami University, a leading institution in undergraduate education, I had the chance to share with Eueopean University faculty, administration, and graduate students how they might involve undergraduates in their current instructional and research programs.

While opportunities for student exchange currently exist and have the potential to expand, opportunities for intellectual exchange for faculty are still to be explored. Speaker engagements, faculty exchange, and research collaborations were among the ideas discussed to bring together Miami University and European University faculty.

Look for more on communications between our institutions and consider for yourselves “What opportunities for collaboration might there be between our institutions?”


Updated November 14

Written by Tricia Callahan, Director, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University and Special Exchange Participant, sponsored by the Eurasia Foundation. Photo of St. Petersburg by Graham from London UK via Wikimedia Commons. Used under Creative Commons license.

Reduction gears on Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 gas turbine engine.

NSF GOALI program helps academics engage with industry

Jigsaw Puzzle hand cut by Charles W. Hamm featuring "Sortie de l'Opéra en l'an 2000" by Albert Robida. Here the earlet shape used by many puzzle cutters to lock pieces together can be seen.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports collaborations between academic institutions and industry in order to improve capacity for intellectual and economic growth.

Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) is a mechanism that supports hands-on experiences for undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, and faculty in industrial settings through fellowships. Additionally the mechanism supports university-industry partnerships on long-term projects, both research and educational.

Projects supported by GOALI are intended to address the linkages between products and processes. Project terms may vary from months to multiple years.

A number of NSF Directorates offer the GOALI mechanism as an addition to current standing programs or as supplements to existing NSF awards. It is important that proposers review GOALI information specific to their directorate/program and talk with a program officer prior to applying.

GOALI is one of the few NSF programs that requires cost sharing — typically by the industrial partner.

For more information on the GOALI program, read the most recent GOALI “Dear Colleague” letter (NSF 16-009) .


Written by Tricia Callahan, Director of Proposal Development, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

Gear image by Sparkignitor via Wikimedia Commons. Puzzle photo by Charles Hamm via Wikimedia Commons. Both used under Creative Commons license.