Road signs representing money ahead. A diamond-shaped, yellow caution sign has a $ printed on it and sits atop a square yellow information sign with the word "MONEY" printed on it.

Deadlines for 2020-2021 internal funding programs announced

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.

The deadline for applying for the Faculty Research Grants Program is 5:00 p.m. Friday, October 16, 2020. Awards are generally announced in mid-December.

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 Awards is 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).


Money ahead image by 401(K) 2012 via Flickr. Antique clock image by Cindy Schultz via Flickr. Both used under Creative Commons license.

Illustration of a computer with a virtual meeting on the screen.

Office of Research for Undergraduates to host fall events virtually

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.

To volunteer as a panelist, contact the ORU.

To attend, register for either session by clicking a date and time below.

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.

To volunteer as a panelist, contact the ORU.

To attend, register for a session by clicking one of the dates and time below.

Q & A sessions with the Office of Research for Undergraduates

Martha Weber and Joyce Fernandes will be available to answer your questions on upcoming programming for undergraduate research. Some events feature guest speakers.

To attend, register for a session by clicking one of the dates and times below.


Image by Alexandra_Koch 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

Sketch of the letters X, Y, and Z

Using SciENcv to create compliant biosketches

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.

If you need more help creating a biosketch in SciENcv, please contact me (danielct@MiamiOH.edu) or the proposal consultant assigned to your department!


Public domain image from Max Pixel.

A hanging file folder labeled "Changes" sits atop a computer keyboard.

Roles and department assignments for RSP staff changing

The addition of CaTia Daniels to the Research & Sponsored Programs (RSP) staff has given us the opportunity to make some improvements to the proposal services we provide, and to update the list of RSP Consultants assigned to each department.

CaTia will now be the primary RSP consultant for the following departments:

  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Computer Science and Software Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • 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:
    • Sponsor
    • Prime funding agency (only if we are a subcontractor)
    • Sponsor program name (if applicable)
    • Proposal guidelines URL
    • Project title
    • Project dates
    • Proposal deadline
    • 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.

Image by Nick Youngson, Alpha Stock Images, 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.

Closeup of number keys on an old-fashioned manual calculator.

FY2021 grant budget template available

Fringe benefit rates are set each fiscal year by the university’s budget office. Because these rates change from year to year, our grant budget template — which calculates fringe benefits for personnel on proposed projects — must be updated each fiscal year. The budget template for FY2021 is now available. (Please note that there is now only one budget template for all proposals, including those submitted to NSF.)

Submitted grant budgets must reflect the correct fringe benefits, so no outdated budget templates can be accepted by Research & Sponsored Programs. Please take a minute to download and save the FY2021 template and delete any outdated ones you may have saved.


Photo by George Hodan, via PublicDomainPictures.net.

A plate affixed to a doorway says "Welcome."

Research & Sponsored Programs welcomes CaTia Daniels as new Proposal & Contract Specialist

CaTia Daniels

We are pleased to announce the newest member of the Research & Sponsored Programs team, CaTia Daniels, a Proposal & Contract Specialist.

CaTia has years of background with fundraising and grant writing for nonprofit organizations, as well as research administration from University of Texas at Dallas. She is a Cincinnati native, graduated from Walnut Hills High School and Wright State University. CaTia will be moving to Ohio from Dallas, Texas this fall. But even while she is in Dallas, CaTia is hard at (remote) work, assisting Miami faculty with proposal preparation and submission.

We hope you’ll join us in welcoming CaTia to Miami!


“Welcome” photo by Video Girl via PublicDomainPictures.net, used under Creative Commons license. Photo of CaTia Daniels courtesy of CaTia Daniels.

Tablet device with the word "policy" and parts of the definition of the word policy visible on the screen.

Changes announced for policy on tuition waivers for grant-funded research assistants

As of July 1, 2020, Miami University discontinued waiving the full amount of in-state tuition for grant-funded graduate research assistants. Under the new policy, in-state tuition waivers will be scaled to the amount of direct costs in a grant. The additional out-of-state surcharge above in-state tuition will continue to be waived for all grants. Investigators are now required to include a minimum of 4.3% of the direct costs of a project as tuition for each graduate student stipend, unless a funding agency specifically prohibits charging tuition. If you are requesting more than $250,000 per year in direct costs, or there is no limit on the amount that can be requested, full in-state tuition must be included at the current rate of $523 per credit hour. Tuition is not subject to facilities and administration (F&A) charges. The established minimum percentage will be evaluated annually and may change as tuition rates change.

Rationale

As part of a benchmarking exercise during strategic plan formulation, the research office learned that as recently as five years ago, most universities in our research expenditure bracket in Ohio and in the Midwest made it a common practice to waive fully both in-state and out-of-state tuition on grants that included a stipend for a graduate research assistant. Last year, as the research office updated its strategic plan, the same benchmarking exercise demonstrated that nearly every university that had, five years ago, been waiving full tuition was now expecting principal investigators to cover at least a portion of tuition on smaller grants and to cover full in-state tuition on major grants (≥$250,000 per year). This change means that Miami’s practice of waiving full tuition made us an outlier. The new policy aligns our practices to national norms.

As a result of the benchmarking and program review, beginning this past academic semester, Research & Sponsored Programs staff started asking some PIs to include partial tuition on their grants. On June 4, Jim Oris, then-Vice President for Research & Innovation, held an online forum with over 30 attendees to discuss a possible change in policy. Provost Osborne subsequently approved the change to take effect July 1, 2020.

The percentage calculation

Nearly all universities consider an NIH R01 grant the standard for a “major grant” and require grant budgets to cover the full cost of in-state tuition for their graduate research assistants. Typically, an R01 uses a modular budget that allows up to $250,000 in direct costs per year.

Using this same standard – an NIH R01 grant with a modular budget (i.e., $250,000 per year) – full in-state graduate tuition for a single research assistant was calculated as a percentage of the annual direct costs. Assuming full time graduate enrollment of 9 hours during each fall and spring and 3 hours during summer, for a total of 21 credits per calendar year, full in-state graduate tuition for a single research assistant amounts to 4.3% of $250,000. The fairest approach is to apply the 4.3% standard evenly across all grants that include stipends for GAs, as an offset to the cost of tuition. In cases where the 4.3% does not cover full in-state tuition, the remaining in-state tuition will be waived (as will the full out-of-state surcharge).

Examples

NIH grant

Our most common NIH grant is an R15 (AREA) mechanism, which is $300,000 in direct costs over three years, or $100,000 per year. Applying the 4.3% to such a budget will require the proposed budget to include $4,300 per year per GA in tuition, for a total of $12,900. The balance will be covered by a tuition waiver.

An NIH R21 has a direct cost limit of $275,000 over two years. This is typically budgeted as $150,000 in Year 1 and $125,000 in Year 2. Applying the 4.3% minimum tutition requirement, the proposed budget will include $6,450 in tuition for Year 1 ($150,000 x .043) and $5,375 in tuition for Year 2 ($125,000 x .043). The balance will be covered by a tuition waiver.

NSF grant

A typical NSF grant averages $123K in direct costs per year for three years. Applying the 4.3% to a budget of that size will require that $5,289 per year be included for tuition for each GA. The balance will be covered by a tuition waiver.


Image by Nick Youngson for Alpha Stock Images via The Blue Diamond Gallery, used under Creative Commons license.

Jim Oris in his office in Miami University's Roudebush Hall.

VPRI Jim Oris offers farewell to Miami community

I started my career at Miami University in August of 1986, fresh out of a postdoctoral position at my PhD alma mater, Michigan State University. My undergraduate years were spent at a small, undergraduate institution near Dayton, Ohio, and my graduate programs were both at large, Research 1 universities. Both experiences had positive impacts on the view of my future career. I remember telling my PhD advisor and my friends that the perfect place for me was a university that valued undergraduate teaching and research mentoring, but had high expectations for graduate advising, funded research, and scholarship. I also grew up in north central Ohio, and as a young adult had no thought of returning to Ohio, with the exception that I was a huge Cincinnati Reds and Bengals fan as a kid and enjoyed the Southwest Ohio landscape.

Prior to my job interview, my only previous experience in Oxford was as an undergraduate, coming down once or twice to use the library and visit a friend from high school. I never imagined that I would one day be back as a prospective professor. When I drove into Oxford on a spring morning in 1986 to start the interview process, I looked around town and campus and thought, “Wow, what a beautiful place. I could live and raise a family here.”

I was offered the job, and proceeded to spend the next 34 years here. Miami was the only stop along the path of my entire academic career. I developed my teaching and research portfolio, came up through the professorial ranks and served as a faculty member in many service roles, including chair of Zoology graduate programs, chair of IACUC, chair of the University Senate Executive Committee, and president of my national professional society. I had the honor of serving as major advisor of 13 master’s and 14 doctoral students, all of whom went on for further graduate study or directly into careers in academia, government, and industry. I advised over 100 undergraduate researchers in my lab, and was on over 50 graduate committees. In my discipline of eco-toxicology, I grew a respectable funding and publication record (172 publications; $5.1M in funding). I have been honored by my colleagues at the highest level, as a University Distinguished Professor and with the Benjamin Harrison Medallion. These are personal distinctions, but they were made possible by my mentors and colleagues, as well as the atmosphere at Miami that fosters creativity and innovation.

Jim Oris (back row, center) at a society meeting with some of his former students and postdocs and their current students.

I met and worked with many interdisciplinary colleagues here, who have become life-long friends. For example, after a somewhat random introduction and conversation back in 1990, John Bailer and I embarked on an amazing collaboration. He has been one of my closest colleagues, and we now share about 20%-25% of our publications together as co-authors. Together we have created work that has had impact in our fields that neither of us could have done alone. That type of collaboration is part of what makes the Miami Experience so great.

In 2008, I was offered the opportunity to become the Associate Dean for Research in the Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship. Four years later, I was named Associate Provost for Research and Dean of the Graduate School. I didn’t have experience directing the activities of professional staff, so I turned to what I knew best and adopted the same approach that I used to mentor graduate students: help them grow and when it is time, celebrate their next phase in life. Throughout, I have tried to be transparent, responsive, collegial, and creative in my approach to my relations with faculty, staff, students, and the community in all disciplines and on all campuses. I was always up-front and honest with everyone in all of my interactions. That approach, in my mind, was simply the “Miami Way.”

In 2018/19, Miami embarked on an aggressive strategic planning process that resulted in ambitious goals for graduate programs and research efforts. In recognition of the expanded importance of these operations, this past September the university’s trustees approved a resolution to separate the two positions I have held since 2012. Going forward, the plan was that the Graduate School and the Office of Research & Innovation were to be managed by two separate individuals, the Dean of the Graduate School and the Vice President for Research and Innovation (VPRI). In October, I was appointed as Miami’s inaugural VPRI. I want to thank Provost Osborne for his foresight and leadership as we look toward the future of research, scholarship, and creative activity at the university.

Around the same time, I announced my intention to retire at the end of this school year. Provost Osborne initiated the search for the two positions shortly thereafter. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to complete the search for a new graduate dean. However, the search for the new VPRI had to be postponed. The provost recently announced that Mike Crowder, Chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry department, will be taking the graduate dean position starting July 1st. In addition, he will serve as Interim VPRI until the university is able to reboot the search for my replacement.

I will remain in the role of Vice President until I retire, effective June 30, 2020. As I look back at the many positions I’ve held during my 34-year academic career, I’m proud of my personal and professional achievements and the awards and recognition I’ve received, but my highest sense of accomplishment has been the success of my students and, for the past 12 years, my professional staff and administrative colleagues. Miami has been a special place to work and have a life. And it is even more beautiful than when I drove into town back in 1986.

The place is a key component, but the people are what I will miss the most. Isolated and working from home for the last four months of my career is not what I had planned when I decided to retire. More than anything, I miss walking across campus, seeing the students headed to class, meeting (face to face!) with colleagues, and working closely with my team in Roudebush Hall. What lifts my spirit is that I know I will leave behind a vibrant and growing research and innovation enterprise, and I will look back with pride that I was able to participate in such a wonderful organization. To think that in such a place, I lived such a life.

Love and Honor,
Jim Oris's signature