For over three decades, the Miami University Senate has sponsored the URA to provide Miami undergraduates with a faculty-mentored experience in developing grant applications. The goal of these partnerships is to encourage discovery and stimulate creative activity.
New this year are two special sub-categories:
DEI Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — In keeping with broader university-wide diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, a portion of available funds will be reserved for research, scholarship, or creative activities in the areas of social justice, human rights, diversity, equity and inclusion.
IDEA (Interdisciplinary Engagement Award) — This award category provides a student team an opportunity to collaborate with at least one faculty mentor across student team members’ disciplinary boundaries. The award can be used to address a research question and intentionally apply knowledge from different fields.
Students with any major can apply for URA awards. Both individual and team projects are eligible. In 2019-2020, 26 of 46 URAs went to student teams.
Typical awards range from $150 to $500, but individual projects of exceptional merit or projects involving student teams may receive up to $1,000. A faculty sponsor must certify that an individual or team project is worth doing, has educational value to the student(s) and can be accomplished in the proposed time frame. The aim and result of proposed projects may be modest as long as the work can reasonably be interpreted as research or a creative endeavor. The faculty sponsor must also ensure that the proposed research complies with university guidelines for conducting research during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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
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 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.
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.
Alicia Knoedler will become Miami University’s vice president for research and innovation (VPRI) on Nov. 1.
She is the former executive associate vice president for research and executive director of the Center for Research Program Development and Enrichment at the University of Oklahoma.
Knoedler will replace Michael Crowder, associate provost and dean of the Graduate School, who is leading the Office of Research and Innovation on an interim basis.
Jason Osborne, Miami’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said Knoedler specializes in crafting, leading and implementing initiatives of strategic value to research across all disciplines and a diverse range of research organizations.
“Dr. Knoedler is a national leader in developing university-based research enterprises and talent. She has had substantial success in helping individuals craft career-long scholarship trajectories, has a strong record of supporting underserved disciplines like the arts and humanities, and has led efforts to diversify research leadership nationally,” Osborne said. “I believe she will quickly empower our faculty, staff and students toward more competitive, successful and impactful research programs, fellowships and awards.”
Prior to her positions at the University of Oklahoma, she served to develop and grow research capacity within various roles at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Notre Dame.
Knoedler wrote in her cover letter for the position that she has cultivated and leveraged nontraditional opportunities in developing her approach to research leadership. She recently served as the director of team innovation within Exaptive, Inc.
“What appeals to me about the VPRI position at Miami University are the needs for a holistic approach to strategically advance research/scholarship/creative activity, innovate in areas of research support and operations, embolden researchers at all levels to pursue research challenges of significant relevance and value across a variety of contexts and stakeholders, and assist in the production of and advocacy for collective research outcomes,” she wrote.
Knoedler earned a bachelor’s degree psychology from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and a master’s and doctorate in cognitive psychology from Purdue University. Her research interests focus on various memory processes and optimal conditions for remembering as well as dynamic team behaviors and the contributions of team translators as catalysts within research teams.
Osborne noted that over the course of her career, Knoedler has developed a number of programs in support of the development and expansion of research, scholarship and creative activity.
She co-led Oklahoma’s statewide collaborative EPSCoR Track 1 Research Infrastructure Improvement Award, funded by the National Science Foundation, which focused on the socio-ecological approaches to studying climate variability in Oklahoma.
Knoedler also served on the Oklahoma Governor’s Science and Technology Council, which reports to the Oklahoma secretary for science and technology.
In service and leadership to research development at the national level, Knoedler is a founding member, former member of the board of directors and was president and immediate past-president of the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP). She was recently named one of 13 NORDP inaugural fellows.
Knoedler has collaborated with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ (APLU) Council on Research to develop and lead training, professional development and leadership opportunities for senior research leaders and those aspiring to such positions.
She is a member of the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s business and operations advisory committee and vice chair of the NSF-wide committee on equal opportunities in science and engineering, drawing a connection between the NSF’s commitment to broadening participation and the commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging from audiences, institutions and organizations across the nation.
Collaborators from another institution may be added to a Miami University IRB protocol using the personnel form. Miami requires persons engaged in research using humans as subjects to complete training using the CITI online system. Prior to submitting the personnel form to the Research Ethics and Integrity Office, the collaborator will need to complete the training or, if they have completed it at another institution, affiliate their CITI account with Miami University. Below are the steps to complete this process on CITI’s website:
Log into your CITI account.
On the home page, scroll down and select “Add Affiliation.”
Select “Miami University (Oxford, Ohio).”
Select “Humans as Subjects IRB Basic Course.”
Complete any modules highlighted in blue including three electives
Once the additional modules are complete, our office will receive the completion report from CITI the next day.
University Senate charges the Committee on Faculty Research (CFR) with supporting and encouraging the development of research and creative activity at Miami University. In carrying out this charge, the CFR administers programs that support and celebrate faculty research and creative activities. Application to these programs is made through Research & Innovation. The CFR Program Guidelines provide information, eligibility criteria, and application procedures for these programs.
Faculty Research Grants Program
The Faculty Research Grants Program encourages proposals addressing new avenues of research and scholarship, either for the investigator or for the institution, initiating new projects and pilot studies, or testing novel or transformative research/creative ideas. In keeping with broader university-wide diversity and inclusion efforts, a portion of available funds will be reserved for research, scholarship, and creative activities in the areas of social justice, human rights, diversity, and inclusion.
University Faculty Scholar & University Junior Faculty Scholar Awards
The University Faculty Scholar and Junior Faculty Scholar Awards programs celebrate the accomplishments of outstanding Miami researchers each year. Exemplary Miami faculty members are nominated by their peers to be recognized for superior research and scholarly activities. The deadline for Research & Innovation to receive nominations for the University Faculty Scholar and Junior Faculty Scholar Awardsis Friday, December 4, 2020.
Publication, Reprint, Exhibition, & Performance Costs (PREP) Program
In addition to these faculty recognition programs, the CFR oversees the Publication, Reprint, Exhibition, and Performance Costs (PREP) Program, which provides reimbursement for certain costs associated with research and creative activity. PREP applications may be submitted at any time during the year.
The Committee invites you to apply for support from these CFR programs and to nominate colleagues you believe are qualified for the University Faculty Scholar or Junior Faculty Scholar Award. Degree and rank at the date of application shall determine eligibility. The Committee encourages proposals from all disciplines and campuses at Miami University.
Programmatic questions may be directed to Rick Page, 2020-2021 CFR Chair (513-529-2281). Administrative questions may be directed to Research & Innovation (513-529-3600).
This fall, the Office of Research for Undergraduates is hosting two different virtual panels and a series of virtual Q & A sessions.
Faculty Panel: Research in the Virtual World
How has research been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic? Are students still able to work in labs and on research projects? Join us as Miami faculty share their experiences conducting research in the virtual world.
Faculty & Student Panel: Disciplinary Approaches to Research
Curious about the research being conducted in your major? This panel series will explore research questions and approaches across disciplines from both the faculty and student perspectives. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions about ongoing research.
SciENcv biosketches will be required for NSF proposals with submission deadlines on and after October 5, 2020. With that date coming up quickly, we want to give all of the faculty at Miami a heads-up about creating their biosketches on SciENcv. Please follow the directions below.
Click the NSF login button to connect SciENcv with your profile on research.gov.
You will be redirected to research.gov’s sign-in page. Enter your login information and click the Sign In button.
After you log in, you will be redirected back to the NCBI website, where you will now be logged in. Click the Create New Document link.
Once on the “Create a New Document” page you will need to name your bio-sketch. We highly recommend naming it with a date so you know when updates will be needed in the future. In the format section, select NSF Biosketch.
Select an option in the “Choose data source” section.
If you select National Science Foundation from the “External source” drop-down menu and you have nothing in your NSF profile, you will see a message warning you that some SciENcv fields will be left blank.
If you select Start with a blank document and then click Create, you will be taken to a page where you can input your professional preparation, appointments, products, and synergistic activities.
Under “C. PRODUCTS,” clicking the Select citations link will allow you either to connect your ORCID account or to visit “My Bibliography,” where you can select citations to add to your ScieENcv.
If you do not have existing citations uploaded to NSF or ORCID, you will need to add them in SciENcv individually, but you will only need to do this once because the system will save the information and auto-populate it in future bio-sketches. Clicking the add citations link in the “Products” section allows you to access PubMed citations.
Once you have completed your bio-sketch, click Download: PDF in the bottom right of the page, below “Synergistic Activities.” Select PDF download your biosketch in the format shown below.
CaTia will now be the primary RSP consultant for the following departments:
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Computer Science and Software Engineering
College of Education, Health and Society (except Kinesiology, Nutrition, and Health)
All other department assignments remain unchanged. As always, any of the three RSP consultants — Anne Schauer, Amy Cooper, and CaTia Daniels — can assist any faculty with proposal submission in the absence of the primary department consultant.
We have also expanded Vanessa Gordon’s role in the proposal preparation process. Vanessa will now serve as the “RSP Cayuse Expert” and will be the go-to person for all Cayuse questions. Among her new duties, Vanessa will now be available to provide the following services upon request:
Start a Cayuse proposal record: Email Vanessa the following information:
Prime funding agency (only if we are a subcontractor)
Sponsor program name (if applicable)
Proposal guidelines URL
Name(s) of subcontractors (if applicable)
Names of co-PIs (if applicable) and % allocation for each (total should be 100%)
Add new sponsors: Email Vanessa if your proposal sponsor or one of your subcontractors is not currently in the Cayuse system.
Enter detailed budget in Cayuse SP, Cayuse 424, and Fastlane: Email Vanessa your final approved internal budget spreadsheet.
Review and approve Cayuse SP record before it is submitted for routing: Email Vanessa once your record is complete and she will review, approve, and submit for routing on your behalf.
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.
“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.