Interim Vice President for Research and Innovation offers perspective on FY 2020 extramural funding

The chart shows 10 years of funding totals: FY 2011 $23.3M; FY 2012 $21.3M; FY 2013 $21.5M; FY 2014 $20.6M; FY 2015 $18.8M; FY 2016 $23.1M; FY 2017 $17.8M; FY 2018 $24.1M; FY 2019 $24.1M; FY 2020 $27.0M
10-year funding trend

I am thrilled to announce that in FY 2020 Miami University set a new record for extramural funding: $26,951,278.

Although it is my privilege, as Interim Vice President of Research & Innovation, to announce this wonderful news, credit for the achievement is due in large part to the leadership of former VPRI Jim Oris, who retired on the last day of FY 2020. The year’s unprecedented level of funding is a culmination of Jim’s nine years of service to Miami’s research community, as a strategic thinker, an advocate, and a builder of relationships.

Even more directly responsible for the year’s success are the faculty and staff who applied for funding. They poured countless hours into gathering preliminary data, writing proposals, and developing relationships with sponsors. As a principal investigator myself, I know that each award of funding can represent five or ten – sometimes even more – proposals that were submitted but not funded. I also know that these low funding rates can make the proposal development process seem thankless. So, I will take this opportunity to extend a sincere thank you to the researchers, scholars, and artists behind every one of the 314 proposals Miami submitted in FY 2020.

Breaking down our record year

The chart shows the dollar value of awards and percentage of total awards, by division: College of Arts and Science $12.2M 45%; College of Creative Arts $156K 1%; College of Education, Health, and Society $1.7M 6%; Middletown Campus $306K 1%; Hamilton Campus $1.8M 7%; Farmer School of Business $450K 2%; College of Engineering & Computing $3.1M 11%; Research + Graduate School $3.6M 13%; Other Offices $3.7M 14%
Value of awards by division

Total funding in FY 2020 increased by nearly $3 million over FY 2019, a gain of more than 10%. Most of our divisions also saw increases. The College of Engineering & Computing led the way, more than doubling last year’s funding to achieve a total of $3.1 million. Significant gains were also seen by the College of Education, Health, & Society (up 70%), Research & Innovation + the Graduate School (up 20%), and the Middletown Campus (up 13%).

Although federal funding has been declining nationwide, our direct federal funding held fairly steady over the past year. Where the decline in federal funding may be more evident is in the 42% reduction in funds received from colleges, universities, and research institutions. This funding often comes in the form of subcontracts for work on projects sponsored by federal agencies. Fortunately, these losses were offset by increases in other sources of funding, including a tripling of funding from governments other than the federal government and the State of Ohio.

Chart shows the value of awards and percentage of total awards by source: Federal Government $9.7M 36%; State of Ohio $6.9M 26%; Associations, Foundations, & Other Non-Profits $4.6M 17%; Business & Industry $3.2M 12%; Colleges, Universities, and Research Institutions $1.8M 6%; Other Government $825K 3%. Breakout chart shows value of awards and percentage of Federal Government funding by federal agency: NSF $5.4M 61%; NIH $2.7M 31%; Department of Education $253K 3%; Other $1.3M 5%
Value of awards by source
hart shows the value of awards and percentage of total value of awards by purpose: Research $18.1M 67%; Service $4.3M 16%; Student Financial Aid $3.0M 11%; Instruction $1.1M 4%; Fellowship $470K 2%
Value of awards by purpose

In keeping with a historical trend, the overwhelming majority of FY2020 external funds were awarded in support of research activities. Funding for research, public service, and student financial aid all increased, but the biggest percentage gain — 92% — was in funding for fellowships.

Why we do what we do

Miamians are so dedicated to securing external funding because that funding enables work that couldn’t happen without it. Each proposal represents a potential intellectual breakthrough, transformative learning experience, or consequential service. These things are at the heart of our mission as a university. Directly or indirectly, they make lives better, and unparalleled extramural funding means unparalleled accomplishments on behalf of the citizens of Ohio, our nation, and the world. Following are some examples.

LouisDeBiasio

Louis DeBiasio
Mathematics

DeBiasio received a grant from NSF for research that leads to better understanding the mathematical structures at the heart of combinatorial problems with implications for computer science and network design.

Ann Dell’Aria

Ann Dell’Aria
Art

Dell’Aria received funding from the non-profit arts organization FotoFocus to curate a public art exhibition featuring moving images projected onto buildings at Miami University. The exhibition engages the concept of “shedding light” onto a topic of conceptual, political, or social importance.

John Femiani

John Femiani
Computer Science & Software Engineering

Femiani was engaged by In-Depth Engineering Corp. to design algorithms that can be used in the development of a mine-detection system. Femiani’s approach augments conventional machine learning with novel techniques.

Andrew Jones

Andrew Jones
Chemical, Paper, & Biomedical Engineering

Jones received funding from PsyBio Therapeutics to enhance and evaluate the commercial viability of a cost-effective psilocybin production methodMatt McMurray, of Psychology, is a co-investigator. Psilocybin is perhaps best known as the compound responsible for the hallucinogenic effects of so-called “magic” mushrooms. But it is also increasingly recognized as a clinical treatment for substance abuse and addiction, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as reported in the following media outlets:

* Jones lab’s work mentioned

The expense of conventional production methods — including cultivation of Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms — has been a barrier to more widespread clinical use of psilocybin. The Jones lab’s cost-effective technique promises to increase access to this treatment option by enabling the development of affordable pharmaceutical drugs.

Mike Lipsitz

Michael Lipsitz
Economics

Lipsitz received funding from Duke University to contribute to analysis of the effect of non-compete agreement (NCA) enforcement on labor markets, workers’ earnings, and mobility. The analysis includes effects on workers bound and not bound by NCAs and disparate effects on men and women workers.

Jessica McCarty

Jessica McCarty
Geography

McCarty received a grant from NASA to map changes and model the future trajectory of land-coverage and land-use in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam. McCarty’s departmental colleague Stanley Toops is a co-investigator.

Jody Perkins

Jody Perkins
University Libraries

Perkins received funding from the State Library of Ohio to host a three-day pre-conference workshop on digital storytelling for social change in conjunction with the 18th Annual Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality Symposium to be hosted by Miami University.

Janardan Subedi

Janardan Subedi
Scripps Gerontology Center

Subedi received funding from from UTHealth to contribute to research on the links between telomere biology and obesity, aging, and cardiometabolic disease risk. Results of the study will inform the assessment of risk, prevention, and treatment of accelerated aging and chronic disease. This funded research is part of the Fels Longitudinal Study, which was begun in Ohio in 1929. Now managed by UTHealth at the University of Texas, it is one of the longest and largest human health studies in the world, and has been the foundation of over 1,000 publications.

Craig Williamson

Craig Williamson
Biology

Williamson, an Ohio Eminent Scholar, was one of just seven scientists nationwide to receive an NSF Opportunities for Promoting Understanding Through Synthesis (OPUS) award. Williamson’s project will provide new insights into how dissolved organic matter influences long-term changes in water clarity, and the resulting consequences for lake ecosystems.

Sarah Woodruff

Sarah Woodruff
The Discovery Center

Woodruff received funding from SUNY Buffalo to evaluate perceptions and experiences of graduate students and postdoctoral associates involved in an NSF-funded interdisciplinary program involving 10 universities, three research institutes, three national laboratories, and an industry partner.

Matt Saxton

Matt Saxton
Biological Sciences

Saxton received funding from The Ohio State University to contribute to research on how microbes metabolize the herbicide glyphosate. Insight into this process is critical to understanding how herbicide use may contribute to harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie and other bodies of water.

Looking ahead

This is both my first and last reflection on Miami’s external funding success. Provost Jason Osborne recently named Alicia Knoedler as Vice President for Research & Innovation, effective November 1, 2020, and it will be her perspective you read in our next annual report. But even if I never have another chance to offer the people behind the numbers official thanks and congratulations, I want them to know that I will always be grateful for and proud of their contributions.


Photos by Miami University Photo Services.

Vice President for Research and Innovation offers perspective on FY2019 extramural funding

Jim Oris, Vice President for Research and Innovation

FY2019 saw a continuation of the success Miami faculty and staff have in securing funding to support their research, scholarship, and creative activity. For the second year in a row, we exceeded $24 million in extramural funding.

Piechart showing breakdown of FY2019 funding by purpose: $17.2M/71% of funding supported research; $2.6M/11% of funding supported service; $1.9M/8% of funding supported instruction; $245K/1% of funding supported fellowships; $2.1M/9% of funding supported student financial aid
FY2019 funding by purpose

Highlights of FY2019’s external funding include the following:

Xin Wang reviews work with a labmate
Xin Wang (left)

Microbiologists D.J. Ferguson (Hamilton Campus) and Xin Wang (College of Arts and Science) received a $343,030 Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) grant from NSF to study microbes that produce the potent greenhouse gas methane. One goal of the research is to determine how these microbes use naturally occurring compounds found particularly in brackish and marine environments as a food source to produce methane. Read more about Ferguson and Wang’s work.

Cricket Meehan working with students
Cricket Meehan (second from left)

Psychologist Cricket Meehan (College of Arts and Science) and educational psychologist Amity Noltemeyer (College of Education, Health, and Society) received nearly $700,000 from the Ohio Department of Education in support of two projects. One raises awareness of mental health needs among youth while implementing services to improve well-being of students and their families. The other works to improve school climate and reduce problem behaviors.

Sue Sepela and Regional Campuses students
Sue Sepela (second from left)

Learning assistance staff member Sue Sepela (Hamilton Campus) received two U.S. Department of Education grants totaling $516,752. One grant supports the Regional Campuses’ Upward Bound program, which helps prepare low-income and first-generation high school students to pursue higher education. The other grant helps provide a comprehensive program of academic support to students on the Regional Campuses.

Rick Page talking with a student.
Rick Page (right)

Chemists Gary Lorigan and Rick Page (both College of Arts & Science) were each awarded about $1.8 million over five years as part of NIH’s Maximizing Investigator’s Research Award (MIRA) program. These highly competitive awards support the PIs’ research programs: membrane protein channels that are directly related to heart disease in Lorigan’s case and protein quality control and antibiotic resistance in Page’s. Read more about Lorigan’s and Page’s research and their MIRA program awards.

Like Lokon and a student working with an OMA participant
Like Lokon (center)

Gerontologist Like Lokon and Scripps Gerontology Center staff member Joan Fopma-Loy (both Research & Innovation and Graduate School) received more than $75,000 to support Opening Minds Through Art (OMA), an award-winning intergenerational art-making program for people with dementia. The program provides opportunities for creative self-expression and social engagement for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurocognitive disorders.

Cameron Hay-Rollins teaching class
Cameron Hay-Rollins

Anthropologist Cameron Hay-Rollins (College of Arts and Science) received $100,000 from Interact for Health for research on housing available to those recovering from opioid addiction in Greater Cincinnati. The project includes a baseline analysis of available recovery housing, building a searchable and update-able database of existing resources, and identifying perceived needs and opportunities to enhance support of people in recovery. Read more about Hay-Rollins’ project.

Jason Berberich looking at contents of a test tube in the lab.
Jason Berberich

Chemical and biomedical engineer Jason Berberich (College of Engineering and Computing) received $177,800 from The Procter & Gamble Company for research on the enzyme lipase, which is commonly added to household cleaning products, including laundry detergent, to help break up grease and other fats. Berberich’s research aims to improve the stability of cold-active lipase in detergents at high temperatures.

Daryl Baldwin addressing an audience.
Daryl Baldwin

Myaamia Center director Daryl Baldwin (Research & Innovation and Graduate School) received $311,647 from the NEH in support of the Breath of Life indigenous language revitalization initiative. The initiative consists of a series of workshops for researchers from endangered language communities. The goal is to build capacity around methods in archives-based research for community-directed revitalization efforts. Read about Breath of Life’s Indigenous Languages Digital Archive (ILDA).

At the same time FY2019 marked continued success, it also marked the beginning of a new era for Miami. Over the course of the last 12 months, 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, in September 2019, the university’s trustees approved a resolution submitted by Provost Jason Osborne to separate the two positions I have held since 2011: dean of the Graduate School and associate provost for research. In October, I was appointed as the inaugural Vice President for Research and Innovation.

I will remain in the role of Vice President until I retire, effective June 30, 2019. This will bring an end to my 34 years as a faculty member and administrator at Miami — my entire academic career. I have held many positions during these years, enjoyed personal and professional accomplishments, and received awards and recognition. But my highest sense of accomplishment has come from the success of my students and, for the past 11 years, my professional staff and administrative colleagues. Miami has been a special place to work and have a life. The place is a key component, but the people are what I will miss the most. 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.


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

Photos by Miami University Photo Services.

Dave Berg and a student study mussels

Associate provost for research offers perspective on FY2018 extramural funding

Jim Oris addresses an audience
Associate provost Jim Oris says FY2018 was Miami University’s best year for extramural funding in a decade.

FY2018 was Miami University’s best year for extramural funding in a decade.
Supported by programs and services of the Office for the Advancement of Research
and Scholarship, faculty and staff attracted 35% more funds over FY2017.

When Robert Frost called Miami University “the most beautiful campus that ever there was,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet was referring to the campus’s physical attributes — the shady lawns, elegant formal gardens, and classic neo-Georgian architecture. But he could just as well have been commenting on what goes on inside our ivy-covered walls. Indeed, the research, creativity, instruction, and service Miami’s faculty pursue on a daily basis are as much a part of Miami’s beauty as our iconic red bricks.

Just as our building and grounds staff work around the clock and across the seasons to maintain Miami’s physical facilities, our researchers, scholars, and creative artists devote countless hours to maintaining Miami’s inner beauty. Not only do these faculty and staff plan and carry out experiments, projects, and programs, they also work tirelessly to find and secure the external funding needed to finance those activities.

Bar chart showing 10-year trend in total funding. Data: FY09 $22.6 million; FY10 $22.7 million; FY11 $23.3 million; FY12 $21.3 million; FY13 $21.5 million; FY14 $20.6 million; FY15 $18.8 million; FY16 $23.1 million; FY17 $17.8 million; FY18 $24.1 million
Total funding, 10-year trend

Their efforts are paying off. In FY2018, Miami generated $24.1 million in extramural funding, a level greater than in any year since before the Great Recession. Highlights of the work enabled by these funds include the following:

Wayne Speer addresses a room full of people. On the whiteboard behind him is printed "Welcome Guests. ESP #341 Corporate Entrepreneurship." A student stands behind him, near the whiteboard.
Marketing faculty member Wayne Speer, left, leads a capstone course as part of Miami’s AFRL open patent portfolio programming.

Miami University-AFRL Research Technology Commercialization Accelerator — Miami University and Wright Brothers Institute of Dayton are working together to identify technologies from an Air Force Research Lab portfolio of nearly 1,000 patents that have potential commercial use for public good. Led by associate provost Jim Oris, the Miami University–AFRL Research Technology Commercialization Accelerator collaboration gives Miami support in reviewing and accessing the lab’s entire open portfolio of patents and patent applications. Miami leads programming to connect those technologies with entrepreneurs, funding, and other resources needed to bring the technologies to market. Read more here.

Miami University assistant professor Michael Hatch in the Astor Court at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Miami University assistant professor Michael Hatch is Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he is conducting research for his book on early 19th Century Chinese painting. He is pictured in the museum’s Astor Court.

Michael Hatch, Department of Art  — Unlike scholars who lack interest in or actively disparage early 19th Century Chinese painting, Michael Hatch, an assistant professor, admires the dynamic appeals works of this period make to non-visual senses, including taste and tactile sensations. A fellowship at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art gave him access to paintings in the Met’s collection and also facilitated his access to works at museums in Asia, which are not usually available, even to academics. Hatch’s research will be published in a manuscript tentatively titled The Senses of Painting in China, 1790-1840. Read more here.

Gary Lorigan works with some equipment in his lab.
Gary Lorigan was the lead PI on one of two NSF MRI awards made to Miami in FY2018.

NSF Major Research Instrumentation awards — Miami University received two grant awards, totaling nearly $1.1 million, in the 2017 round of competition for the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program. The national rate of success for proposals submitted to the program is only 20%. The NSF awards supported Miami University’s acquisition of a pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectrometer and a fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) system. Read more here.

A speech pathology and audiology clinic client uses and iPad with text-to-speech capability, with the help of Kelly Knollman-Porter and two students.
Kelly Knollman-Porter, second from right, has received a grant from the NIH to test whether assistive technology might help people with aphasia-related reading problems.

Kelly Knollman-Porter,  Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology — The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the NIH, awarded a grant to Kelly Knollman-Porter to lead a multi-site study on the use of assistive technology to compensate for aphasia-related reading problems. The study will be among the first to test whether text-to-speech software helps people who have lost the ability to understand written language follwing a stroke or brain injury. Read more here.

Dominik Konkolewicz works with a student in the lab.
Dominik Konkolewicz, left, is the ninth scientist at Miami to be awarded and NSF CAREER grant.

Dominik Konkolewicz, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry — Dominik Konkolewicz, an assistant professor, recently received a CAREER grant from the Faculty Early Career Development program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his research on polymers. Polymers consist of smaller molecules linked together to form a larger molecule. The resulting macromolecule is like a necklace, with dozens to tens-of-thousands of smaller molecules making up the individual links. When the links in polymer materials — such as wall paint and truck tires — are damaged the materials become useless because they can’t recover their original properties. Konkolewicz’s work focuses on creating links between the chains that can be exchanged for other ones, allowing the material to heal itself when scratched or punctured. Read more here.

John Bowblis and Amy Roberts discuss data they see on a computer screen.
John Bowblis (left) and Amy Roberts (right) are working with Medicare data to determine whether social services staffing affects patient outcomes.

John Bowblis and Amy Roberts, Scripps Gerontology Center — As Scripps Gerontology Center research fellows, John Bowblis, associate professor of economics and Amy Roberts, assistant professor of family science and social work, are leading one of the first national studies to assess the impact of social services staffing in nursing homes. With physical and psychosocial functioning tightly intertwined, the pair want to determine whether changes in public policy related to social services staff might lead to better outcomes for patients in nursing homes. Read more here.

We are working more efficiently than ever before. Despite a decrease in proposal submissions from FY2017, our faculty and staff still achieved a 35% increase in total funding for FY2018. Our average award size increased 30%. These data suggest that our faculty and staff are being more strategic in targeting funding opportunities and in communicating the value of their work to sponsors.

Chart showing number of proposals submitted by division. Data: CAS 152 proposals; CEC 42 proposals; CEHS 41 proposals; RGS 27 proposals; HC 23 proposals; FSB 12 proposals; CCA 6 proposals; MC 6 proposals; Other 5 proposals
FY2018 proposals submitted by division

The Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship (OARS) has also been strategic. We have dedicated significant human and financial resources to programming and services that support faculty and staff in enhancing their grantsmanship. FY2018 metrics show a clear return on those investments, and help chart our future course.

Although we are gratified by FY2018’s increase in total funding and average award size, we recognize that securing extramural funding is still very much a numbers game: more proposals submitted generally results in more funding granted. So, we will continue to encourage proposal submission through incentives and support services — working harder and smarter.

Bar chart showing funding by source. Data: Federal Government $9.5 million/39 percent; State of Ohio $6.0 million/25 percent; Associations, Foundation, and Other Non-Profits $4.3 million/18 percent; Business and Industry $2.0 million/9 percent; Colleges, Universities, and Research Institutes $1.6 million/7 percent; Other Government $0.6 million/2 percent
FY 2018 total funding, by source

We also recognize that budget pressures and ever-increasing competition make federal funding unpredictable, at best. That’s why, despite the 50% increase in federal funding we saw between FY2017 and FY2018, we are actively working to diversify our funding portfolio. In particular, we’re strengthening and expanding support for commercialization. Our recent collaboration with the Wright Brothers Institute of Dayton gives us the opportunity to connect promising technologies from the Air Force Research Laboratory’s open portfolio of patents and patent applications with the resources needed to bring them to market.

As always, my team and I are proud to support research, creativity, instruction, and service at Miami University. We remain committed to this work, not just because it’s our job, but because we care deeply about the impact our faculty, staff, and students have on our local community, the State of Ohio, our nation, and the world beyond.


Written by Jim Oris, Associate Provost for Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

Associate provost for research offers perspective on FY2017 extramural funding

A grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in FY2017 supported establishment of an interdisciplinary and experiential Institute for Food at Miami University. The Institute operates an organic farm.

Miami University’s global reputation for excellence owes a lot to the passion of its students, faculty, and staff. Their enthusiasm and dedication are the foundation of scientific discoveries, creative innovations, and entrepreneurial accomplishments. Extramural funding provides the resources to help them build to greater heights.

Bar graph showing amounts and percentages of extramural funding brought in by each division, as follows. Arts & Science: $7.0M, 39%. Research & Graduate School: $7.0M, 17%. Other Offices: $2.2M, 12%. Education, Health, & Society: $1.7M, 10%. Engineering & Computing: $1.2M, 7%. Hamilton Campus: $0.9M, 5%. Creative Arts: $0.9M, 5%. Middletown Campus: $0.6M, 3%. Farmer School of Business: $0.3M, 2%.
FY2017 extramural funding by division. Total extramural funding was $17.8 million.

In FY2017, Miami University secured $17.8 million in funding from federal and state government agencies, private foundations, business and industry, and other sponsors to support research, creative, education, and service projects at Miami University. Highlights of the work enabled by these funds include the following:

  • Rick Page, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, was recognized as one of the nation’s top young faculty in his field by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the award of a prestigious CAREER grant. Page will receive more than $920,000 over five years for his research on the biological regulation of quality control in proteins. Read more here.
  • Carrie Tyler, an assistant professor of geology and environmental earth science, and a collaborator received $343,000 from NSF to study the role predators may have played in the evolution of echinoids, a class of animals that includes sea urchins, sand dollars, and sea biscuits. Their work may lead to better understanding of modern ecosystems. Read more here.
  • A senior research scholar in the Scripps Gerontology Center, Phyllis Cummins leads a team that is working to learn what contributes to college success for students between the ages of 40 and 64. Their work is supported by a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Read more here.
  • Psychology graduate student Lauren Forrest was awarded $2,000 by the Military Suicide Research Consortium to complete an interoception study, under the supervision of assistant professor April Smith. The study will look at whether people who are relatively “tuned out” to pain or to sensations associated with fear might be at greater risk for suicide and self-injury. Read more here.
  • A team led by Nazan Bautista, associate professor of teacher education, and Tammy Schwartz, director of the Urban Teaching Cohort, has been awarded over $1 million by the NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. Miami’s Noyce program incentivizes STEM undergraduates and STEM professionals to pursue teacher certification.
  • The Myaamia Center was awarded more than $180,000 by NSF for the National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages project. Breath of Life trains researchers from indigenous communities in methods of archives-based linguistic and ethnographic research, which is critical to knowledge about and revitalization of indigenous languages and cultures. Read more here.
  • A grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture supported establishment of an interdisciplinary and experiential Institute for Food at Miami University. The Institute, which operates an organic farm, supports a resilient food system in Southwest Ohio. The project is led by Tom Crist, professor of biology, and Peggy Shaffer, professor of history and global and intercultural studies.

While the federal government remained our largest source of funding, Miami, like many other universities across the country, saw a decline in federal support during FY2017. To replace those funds, we have worked diligently to build relationships with other sponsors, notably business and industry, whose support increased 26% in this fiscal year compared to last. The State of Ohio also remained a significant sponsor, with $3.7 million in support during FY2017.

Infographic showing that extramural funding from business and industry increased by 26% from FY2016 to FY2017.
Losses in federal funds were partially offset by an increase in funding from business and industry.

We are proud to help Miami’s researchers, scholars, and creative artists find and secure the funding that enables them to apply their passion to answer questions, solve important problems, provoke thought, and train the next generation of our nation’s innovators. We remain committed to that mission now and into the future.


Written by Jim Oris, Associate Provost of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

Windows photo by Scott Kissell, Miami University Photo Services. Farm photo by Jeff Sabo, Miami University Photo Services.

Closeup of a web browser address bar with http://www visible in the address bar. An arrow points to the address in the address bar.

Find the information you need on the OARS website

Computer keyboard with an FAQ key in place of a return/enter key.

This post is a combination of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) and a tour of the OARS website. The purpose is to show you where to find the information you need to learn about funding opportunities, prepare proposals, and build your grantsmanship skills.


Who do I contact if I need to talk to an actual person?

We’re starting with this question because while we want you to be able to use our website to find the information you need, but we don’t want you to spend an inordinate time trying to chase something down. Especially if someone in our office can answer your question off the top of their head!

Your first point of contact will probably be your OARS consultant — either Anne Schauer or Tricia Callahan. They can either answer your question directly, or get you connected to someone else in our office who can.

Anne and Tricia divide their workload by department and center/institute. To find out who works with your department or center/institute, follow these steps:

  • Click on the Proposal Preparation Resources link in the lefthand navigation on the OARS homepage (MiamiOH.edu/research).


    Screenshot of OARS homepage, with Proposal Preparation Resources link in lefthand navigation circled.

  • Scroll down the list of departments and centers/institutes in the righthand column and click the + next to the one you’re affiliated. The item will expand to display the consultant assigned to that department or center/institute.


    Screenshot of Proposal Preparation Resources webpage, with + sign next to Architecture & Interior Design circled and the name of the OARS consultant for that department circled.

 

Feel free to contact Anne or Tricia at any time. Anne can be reached at 513-529-3735 or schauerap@MiamiOH.edu. Tricia can be reached at 513-529-1795 or callahtl@MiamiOH.edu. Both are located in 102 Roudebush Hall.


How do I find out about OARS events?

OARS offers a range of professional development opportunities, including:

  • eSPA and SPIN training
  • General grantsmanship presentations and workshops
  • Presentations and workshops focused on a particular agency or program
  • Networking events
  • Researcher appreciation events

The full calendar of OARS events is available in just two clicks from the OARS homepage:

  • Scroll down until you can see the “News and events” widget in the lefthand column.


    Screenshot of OARS homepage with News and events widget circled.

  • Click on the + next to “Calendar of events and deadlines” to expand that option, then click on the word here in the text.


    Screenshot of News and events widget, with + next to Calendar of events and deadlines circled and the word here in the expanded text circled.

  • Use the arrows at the top of the calendar to scroll between months in the calendar.


    Screenshot of OARS Calendar of Events, with month navigation arrows circled.

In addition to OARS events, the calendar also includes research-oriented events sponsored by other Miami departments or by outside parties. Finally, the calendar also includes application and submission deadlines for internal and external competitions and submission opportunities.


How do I get started if I am a new researcher or an experienced researcher who is new to Miami?

Click on Getting Started in the lefthand navigation on the OARS homepage.


Screenshot of OARS homepage with Getting Started option in the lefthand navigation circled.


From there, you can click on the arrows to expand information about each step in the process of seeking external funding.


Screenshot of Getting Started webpage with arrows next to each external funding step circled.


Where can I find information about funding opportunities?

Click on Finding Funding in the lefthand navigation of the OARS homepage.


Screenshot of OARS homepage, with Finding Funding circled in the lefthand navigation.


You will then see additional links to resources for finding funding to support your research or other project.


Screenshot of Finding Funding webpage


Where do I find Miami’s DUNS, EIN, and other institutional information that needs to be included in my application?

Follow these steps:

  • Click on the Proposal Preparation Resources link in the lefthand navigation on the OARS homepage (MiamiOH.edu/research).


    Screenshot of OARS homepage, with Proposal Preparation Resources link in lefthand navigation circled.

  • Click on the budget resources link in the center of the page.



    Screenshot of Proposal Preparation Resources webpage, with Budget resources link circled.

  • Click on the arrows to expand the various categories of information.


    Screenshot of Budget Resources page, with + signs next to categories of information circled.


How do I get approval of a proposal from my chair and dean and from OARS?

Miami University began uses an electronic sponsored programs administration (eSPA) system to help manage research administration and electronic submission of proposals. Specifically, Miami has implemented two programs within the Evisions Research Suite: Cayuse 424, which is a Federal proposal development and system-to-system platform, and Cayuse SP, which reduces the need for paperwork and transforms proposal routing into an electronic process.

You can access Miami’s eSPA system by clicking on the Quick Link on the Miami homepage.



Screenshot of OARS homepage, with eSPA-Cayuse Research Suite link in Quick Links widget circled.


If you need help with eSPA, contact your OARS consultant.


Internet photo by Rock1997 via Wikimedia Commons .FAQ photo by photosteve101 via Flickr. Both used under Creative Commons license.

Tammy Schwartz speaks to a group of people attending a College of Education, Health, and Society panel on urban teaching.

Associate provost for research offers perspective on FY2016 extramural funding

Three people sit at a long table during a press conference.
Dr. Jessica Sparks, right, at a press conference announcing award of $1 million to Southwest Ohio Regional Consortium.

Miami University brought in a total of $23.1 million in extramural funding during the 2016 fiscal year, up 23% over the previous year. We saw increases across the board, from all sources — public and private — with standout growth of 75% in funding awarded by the state of Ohio.

Bubble chart depicting FY2016 total, federal, and state funding compared to FY2015. In FY2015, total funding was $18.5M; in FY2016, it was $23.1M. In FY2015, federal funding was $8.9M; in FY2016 it was $9.7M. In FY2015, funding from the state of Ohio was $2.8M; in FY2016, it was $4.9M.
FY2016 total, federal, and state funding compared to FY2015.

While it’s always gratifying to see an increase in funding, what’s even more gratifying is the research, instruction, and service this funding enables. Our researchers and scholars are working to answer big questions and solve intractable problems. Here is just a fraction of the excellent research, scholarship, and service being carried out at Miami University:

  • Rick Page, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry was recognized as one of the nation’s top young faculty in his field by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the award of a CAREER grant. He will receive more than $920,000 of research funding over five years for his esearch on quality control in proteins. Read more here.
  • Associate professors Amy Summerville (psychology) and Jennifer Blue (physics) and College of Engineering and Computing administrator Brian Kirkmeyer are working to develop an intervention to improve the success of engineering students in early physics classes. The project is supported by a $368,000 grant from the NSF. Read more here.
  • Haifei Shi, an associate professor of biology, is exploring the potential for brain-derived neurotrophic factor to be used in therapeutic treatments for obesity, a major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease. Shi’s work is supported by a $390,150 grant from a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Read more here.
  • Phyllis Cummins, a senior research scholar in the Scripps Gerontology Center, and a team of colleagues are working to identify patterns that suggest successful approaches to educating students 40 and older. Their work is supported by a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Read more here.
  • The NSF’s Robert Noyce Scholarship Program awarded $74,956 to a team led by Nazan Bautista, an associate professor of teacher education. The team is working to help STEM majors, STEM professionals, and STEM teacher ed majors gain the skills necessary to teach in ethnically and culturally diverse communities. Read more here.
  • As a member of the Southwest Ohio Regional Consortium, Miami is sharing $1 million awarded through Ohio’s RAPIDS program. Miami’s $381,856 share will purchase additive manufacturing and 3-D scanning equipment. The grant is administered by a team led by Jessica Sparks, an associate professor of biomedical engineering. Read more here.
  • The Ohio Department of Education has awarded a grant of $93,242 to Susan Hershberger, director of the Center for Chemistry Education, Jennifer Blue, an associate professor of physics, and Tammy Schwartz, director of the Urban Teaching Cohort, for a project that provides professional development for Ohio 6th to 8th grade educators in partnership with Middletown City Schools. Read more here.

The researchers and scholars mentioned here — along with dozens of others at Miami —  involve students at every step of their research. In fact, the synergy between Miami’s undergraduate students and the graduate students and faculty who mentor them is at the heart of the Miami Experience. Many undergraduate students at Miami get hands-on experience with equipment and techniques that only faculty and graduate students get at other institutions. This unusual level of access also benefits our graduate students, who have the opportunity to teach these techniques and the proper use of this equipment, while helping to shape the next generation of researchers through their mentorship.

FY2016 interdisciplinary collaborations between departments and colleges (bigger circle = more faculty in unit; thicker line = greater number of collaborations).
FY2016 interdisciplinary collaborations between departments and colleges (bigger circle = more faculty in unit; thicker line = greater number of collaborations).

The result is an exceptional learning environment that has earned Miami University global recognition. We remain dedicated to helping the Miami community find and secure the funding that makes it possible.

You can see the full report on FY2016 extramural funding here.


Written by Jim Oris, Associate Provost of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

Photos by Miami University Photo Services.

A student researcher takes blood from the finger of a research participant who is walking on a treadmill. The students mentor supervises.

Changes to NSF and NIH policies and procedures are forthcoming

A researcher holds a bird that will be banded.
Researchers working with vertebrate animals need to be aware of recently increased scrutiny by the NIH.

 

Below is a summary of changes in policy and procedure being implemented at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

National Science Foundation (NSF)

The NSF Policy Office has a long history of being responsive to the grant community. In response to comments from investigators and research administrators, the NSF is making a number of changes in its policies pertaining to preparation and award administration. Full details can be found in the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG)but the changes that will have the most impact Miami University researchers are summarized below:

New proposal types and clarification on proposal types

  • Letters of Intent, preliminary proposals, full proposals, and invited proposals, oh my! Guidance on what to include in these different types of NSF proposals will now be outlined in the revised PAPPG. Special attention is given to what needs to be included in the new, separate section on Collaborator & Other Affiliation Information.
  • Look for two new proposal types to be implemented:
    • Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science (RAIS): RAIS will replace NSF INSPIRES to promote interdisciplinary science and education.
    • Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI): The GOALI program is expanding beyond Engineering to promote university-industry partnerships focused on solving basic research questions. Look for this cross-cutting program in many of the NSF Directorates.
  • Historically travel grants have supported international travel for students supported by NSF funds, while supplements — such as those for Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) — have been used for domestic travel. Going forward, however, NSF travel grants will cover both foreign and domestic travel for students.

Defining participants

According to NSF policy, it is up to the institution, not the NSF program officer, to classify participant support. At Miami, we use the NSF definition of participant support recently adopted by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB): “Participant support costs are direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with meetings, conferences, symposia or training projects” (PAPPG).

The revised PAPPG will aid in clarifying the difference between an undergraduate participant (such as an REU student) and an undergraduate researcher. However, if you are uncertain how to classify any student, please contact your OARS representative for assistance.

Finally, just a note on food for participants. If a participant receives funds for individual meal compensation, those funds should be budgeted under “Participant Support.” Funds for meals provided for conferences/workshops, should be budgeted under “Other.” Contact your OARS representative if you need assistance making this distinction.

Changes to NSF forms

  • The 4,600 character limit will be removed from the Project Summary. Instead, the Project Summary will be limited to one printed page using appropriate font size and type.
  • Guidance on “Collaborator & Other Affiliation information” will be updated in the revised PAPPG.

Financial considerations

  • NSF has adopted a 10% de minimis facilities and administration (F&A) rate for foreign subcontractors. Domestic subcontractors may used their Federally-negotiated F&A rate or may use the 10% de minimis rate, if they do not have a negotiated rate.
  • Use of an F&A rate less than the institution’s negotiated rate is considered by NSF to be cost share, which is unallowable for a majority of NSF programs. Using the NSF budget template provided by OARS will ensure you are using the correct F&A and fringe benefit rates.
  • NSF guidance on implementation of the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) can be found in their list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Additional information

A final draft of the revised PAPPG will be posted to the NSF website in October 2016, with changes to be implemented January 2017.

If you’d like to learn more about NSF grant administration and programs, consider registering to attend the upcoming NSF Grants Conference being held November 14-15 in Pittsburgh, PA.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

A number of changes have recently come out of the NIH Office of Extramural Research. Many of these changes have an impact on post-award accounting and reporting. The most helpful things for grant writers are the new NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts and the General Application Guide for NIH. These new guides offer streamlined overviews of NIH programs, open solicitations, and step-by-step instructions on preparing NIH proposals and reports.

Other changes to NIH policy and programs include:

New funding programs

The Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) program was announced by President Obama during his 2015 State of the Union address. The focus of this initiative is to take fundamental research and apply it to a specific cohort of individuals to produce individualized care. Funding programs for PMI can be found here.

Form updates

  • The new Forms D are in effect for proposals submitted on or after May 25, 2016. The new forms include:
    • A new section on authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources in order to meet requirements for rigor and reproducibility.
    • New questions regarding enrollment of human participants (enrollment type, dataset source, participant location, etc.)
    • A PHS Assignment Request Form to help determine under which institute or center a proposal should be reviewed
  • Newly specified font types including Arial, Garamond, Georgia, Helvetica, Palatino Linotype, Times New Roman, and Verdana. All font types should be 11 points or larger.

Compliance issues

eRA Commons and technical/financial reporting

  • As of June 12, 2016, eRA Commons usernames are required for primary mentors on Mentored Career Development proposals. If you need to register a PI, co-PI, investigator, sponsor, or mentor with eRA Commons, please contact your OARS representative.
  • While registration is not required for undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral candidates at the proposal stage,  once a project is funded and work by those personnel is supported by NIH funding, they must be registered with eRA Commons so that PIs can complete technical (annual and close-out) reports. Contact your OARS representative to register individuals with eRA Commons.
  • New guidance on completing the Research Performance Program Report (RPPR) will be published this October. The new guidance will cover completing and submitting the Final Progress Report (FPR), the Final Invention Statement & Certification (FIS), and the Final Federal Financial Report (FFR). Please remember that all financial reports must be submitted by Miami’s Grants & Contracts office, and should not be submitted by the PI.

Additional information

If you’d like to learn more about NIH grant administration and programs, consider registering to attend the upcoming NIH Regional Seminar being held October 26-28 in Chicago, IL.


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

Treadmill research photo by Scott Kisssell, Miami University Photo Services. Bird photo also by Miami University Photo Services.

Looking up at several stories of office windows from inside a building. There is a round, black circle-shaped sculpture suspended from the glass ceiling of the building.

Director of Proposal Development offers updates on NIH and NSF policies

Skyline of Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
Baltimore, Maryland, is the site of an NIH Regional Seminar being held this week. Another Regional Seminar will be held in Chicago this fall.

Below are  updates on policies recently put into action at NIH and NSF, as well as a look ahead to some upcoming changes.


NIH

General

The NIH budget for FY16 is $32.3 billion, up $2M over FY15.

Proposal submission

  • All documents submitted to NIH (proposals, award documents, and post-award documents) must contain a signature from an Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) or Signing Official (SO). At Miami, only Jim Oris, Anne Schauer, and Tricia Callahan can sign as AORs or SOs. Contact your OARS representative if you are uncertain who should sign your NIH documents prior to submission.
  • NIH has updated and streamlined its forms and instructions page. For applications due May 25, 2016 and later, Version D forms must be used.
  • Effective January 10, 2016, the NIH salary cap (Executive Level II) went to $185,100. NIH encourages investigators to propose using their base salary. If base salary exceeds the NIH salary cap, then adjustments will be made at the time of award.
  • For proposals that involve the use of vertebrate animals, the section on euthanasia is now a separate document in order to assure compliance with American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) guidelines. The NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) offers policy, guidance, and education related to the use of vertebrate animals in research. Look for resources, FAQs, and quarterly webinars on the OLAW site.
  • The new NIH biosketch allows for up to five pages, one page more than the previous limit. Publications in progress can be mentioned in the Personal Statement, but should not be cited in the publications listing.
  • NIH created ASSIST (Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking) for the preparation and submission of multi-project applications. Miami University will continue to submit and track applications through eSPA, so Miami applicants should not use ASSIST for their proposal submissions.
  • For NRSA and K awards, primary mentors must have an eRA Commons ID affiliated with Miami University. Contact your OARS representative to create an eRA Commons ID or to affiliate an existing ID with Miami.
  • If you plan to work with a foreign collaborator, OARS requests advance notice of 25 working days. However, you should be aware that it may take foreign entities eight to ten weeks to register with eRA Commons and the other systems, and that those registrations must be in place before contracting with the Federal government. Contact your OARS representative for assistance.

Reporting

  • All financial and technical reports must be submitted 120 days following the award end date. We’d like to take this opportunity to remind investigators that while they are responsible for their technical reports, all financial reporting must be done by Miami University’s Grants & Contracts Office. Information about the types of NIH reports and the content they require is available here. All invention disclosures should be processed through iEdison.
  • Find out what’s currently being funded at the NIH and discover trends using NIH RePORTER.

Continuing education

  • Thanks to everyone who joined us for our recent day-long series of NIH workshops, led by Dr. Norm Braveman, former member of the senior NIH staff.
  • NIH will hold two NIH Regional Seminars on program funding and grants administration in 2016:
    • May 11-13, in Baltimore
    • October 26-28, in Chicago

NSF

General

  • The NSF budget request for FY16 is $6.5 billion for research and development. Current funding rates average around 22-23%.
  • A notice will be posted this summer in the Federal Register describing changes proposed for the NSF Proposal and Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), with time allowed for public comment before changes are finalized. Final changes will be posted in October and the grants community will be given 90 days to become familiar prior to implementation in January 2017.

Proposal submission

The following are reflected in the current PAPPG:

  • All proposals are due by 5:00pm local time of the submitting institution. Permission to submit after a deadline in the event of a natural disaster must come from the Program Officer in writing. The communication should be included as a Single Copy Document in the application and a box must be checked on the NSF Cover Page for special exceptions to the NSF deadline policy.
  • Collaborative and Other Affiliation information has been removed from the NSF Biosketch and is now submitted as a Single Copy Document (which differs from Supplemental Material). This change is to help researchers who have long lists of collaborations keep to the two-page limit for biosketches.
  • Information on Results from Prior NSF Submission has been clarified in the most recent version of the PAPPG.
  • Information on internal, institutional funds that require dedicated effort must now be shown on the NSF Current & Pending form.
  • Biosketches and Current & Pending forms can no longer be submitted as a single PDF. Each senior/key personnel should have a separate biosketch and separate Current & Pending forms. Biosketch information for other personnel, such as equipment users, should be uploaded as Supplemental Material documents, and do not have to follow the NSF biosketch format.
  • Clarity has been provided on the use of vertebrate animals in research, which follows NIH OLAW policies.
  • FastLane auto-checks for compliance with page limits and submission deadlines.

Post-award and reporting

  • All financial and technical reports must be submitted 120 days following the award end date. We’d like to take this opportunity to remind investigators that while they are responsible for their technical reports, all financial reporting must be done by Miami University’s Grants & Contracts Office.
  • All post-award communications, such as notifications and requests, must be signed and submitted by the institution’s Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR). Contact your OARS representative if you are uncertain who should sign your NSF requests.

Editor’s note 05/13/2016: The original post mistakenly indicated that NSF biosketches are limited to three pages. We regret the error and have updated the post with the correct limit, which is two pages.

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

Photo of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor by Ron Cogswell, via Flickr. NSF lobby photo by Luke Faraone, via Flickr. Both used under Creative Commons license.

A crowd of people. Several are raising their hands.

Following these tips can help improve crowdfunding success

The word "Crowdfunding" is spelled out using Scrabble tiles.

Miami University’s new crowdfunding platform, HawksNest — which we wrote about last week — offers an excellent opportunity for Miami students, faculty, and staff to seek funding for projects that might be difficult to fund through traditional channels. However, it’s important for prospective project owners to recognize that managing a successful crowdfunding campaign is quite different from developing a traditional proposal.

Here are some tips to make crowdfunding through HawksNest work for you:

1. Tell a compelling story.

Most people make spending decisions based on feelings, not thoughts. They choose to spend money on things that make them feel good about themselves, so you need to tell the story of your project in a way that shows prospective donors what they will get from supporting your project. Try reframing your perspective so that you do not think of your crowdfunding campaign as asking for money, but rather as offering self-satisfaction. You’re offering donors a chance to feel good about themselves by helping to make a discovery that could lead to a cure, or to solve a longstanding mystery, or to challenge unhelpful assumptions. And of course you’re offering them a chance to help students learn and achieve.

To tell your story effectively:

  • Choose an engaging, non-technical title for your project. For instance, “Sugar: Does It Really Make Children Hyper?” is preferable to “Metabolic Effects of Fructose in a Randomized, Controlled Trial of Children Between the Ages of 6 and 10 Years.”
  • Describe your project using friendly, easily accessible language that is suitable for non-experts.
  • Describe your project in a way that helps prospective donors visualize the result or outcome.
  • Select a photo that is visually interesting and supports your project narrative.

If you do this well, visitors to your campaign page will perceive the quality of your project as high, and will feel confident supporting it with a donation.

One thing to note is that projects that are culturally relevant to a specific geographic region are more likely to be fully funded. So, if your project fits in that category and you have a strong personal network in the relevant region (see #3 below), then play that up in your project description. For example, if you are from South Carolina and leverage your network of personal contacts from home, you could have strong success with a project that seeks to document and preserve the Gullah language native to the South Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry.

It’s also important to remember that your story doesn’t end once your project posts to HawksNest. Continue to post updates — on HawksNest and your social media accounts (see #3 below) — during and after the campaign. Your visible engagement helps prospective donors have confidence in the project and gives existing donors a feel-good rush (which makes them more likely to donate again).

2. Choose the right campaign length and goal.

Of course, you should always ask for what you actually need, both in terms of money and in terms of time, but within that context it’s helpful to know that more is not necessarily better. While HawksNest allows project owners to set a funding goal of up to $6000 and a campaign duration of up to 45 days, statistically speaking, projects that fall at the higher end of the range on either count are less likely to experience success. Data from other crowdfunding sites suggest that the sweet spot is a funding goal of about $3000 and a campaign duration of about 30 days.

3. Leverage your personal network.

People you don’t know personally are more likely to support your project if they see other people supporting it. This is the concept behind baristas’ “salting” their tip jars with a few dollar bills at the beginning of the day. With crowdfunding, the way you salt the tip jar is by getting people you know to donate to your project first.

Evidence from other crowdfunding platforms suggests that you should aim to raise 30% of your funding goal from your personal contacts. This is the point at which outsiders begin to have confidence that a project will succeed. (See #4 below for a reason it’s important to reach the 30% threshold early in your campaign.)

Large social media networks correlate to greater success for crowdfunding campaigns, so post often to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Also be sure to ask people in your network to share your posts with their networks, because outside links to a crowdfunding campaign also increase the likelihood of success.

But don’t rely on public posts alone — be sure to reach out personally as well. Send private messages on Facebook, direct messages on Twitter, even old-fashioned email. On average, you can expect about 3% of the people you contact personally to donate to your project. So to figure out how many contacts you need to send emails or other personal messages to, take your funding goal, divide it by $25 (the most commonly donated amount), and then multiply that figure by 10 (the number you need to multiply the 3% positive response rate by to achieve 30% of total funding from this source). The formula looks like this:

(funding goal/$25) x 10 = target number of personal contacts

For example, if your funding goal is $1000, you should aim to send personal messages to 400 contacts, as shown below:

($1000/$25) x 10 = 400

400 personal messages x 3% positive response rate = 12 donations
12 donations x $25 each = $300 (i.e., 30% of $1000 goal)

4. Take advantage of the first few days of the campaign.

Statistics from other crowdfunding sites show that raising 30% of your funding goal in the first week of a campaign translates to an 80% chance of meeting your goal. If you raise just 5% of your goal in the first week, though, the likelihood of meeting your goal drops to 50%.

Another reason the first few days of a campaign are important is that projects are displayed on the HawksNest homepage in first-in/first-out order. That means the last project to be approved is the first project displayed. Therefore, the visibility of your project is greatest in the first few days of your campaign, before new projects push it farther down on the page. This is especially important for capturing the attention of visitors who are casually browsing HawksNest. You might consider sending your emails, Facebook private messages, and Twitter direct messages on Day 2 or Day 3 of the campaign, to boost donations after your project becomes less visible on the HawksNest homepage. (Projects can always be found using keywords or category search — so make sure to choose those well!)

5. Continue to promote your project for the duration of the campaign.

Crowdfunding is not a wind-it-up-and-let-it-go sort of thing. It requires constant engagement from project owners. This is all the more true for HawksNest, which doesn’t have as much traffic as, say, Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

Post often to social media and your campaign page and send follow-up emails. Consider doing an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit or sending press releases to local media (see #1 above about geographically specific cultural projects) — anything to both let people know about your campaign and keep it front-of-mind.


Written by Heather Beattey Johnston, Associate Director & Information Coordinator, Office for the Advancement of Research & Scholarship, Miami University.

Crowdfunding Scrabble photo by LendingMemo.com via Flickr, used under Creative Commons license. Crowd photo by Scott Kissell, University Communications & Marketing, Miami University.

Shows the growth pattern of the SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cell line.

New NIH guidance emphasizes rigor and reproducibility

A pair of hooded rats stands on a flat surface.

Recently the NIH published new guidance on rigor and reproducibility in the NIH application and review process.  This new guidance, which goes into effect for applications due January 25, 2016 and later, emphasizes rigor, reproducibility, and transparency in the NIH grant application process.  What does this mean for grant applicants?  Basically it means paying attention to details and making it clear to reviewers that you have done so.

The new guidance has little effect on the structure and content of the application. However, it does put the onus on the researcher to clearly communicate attention to rigor and reproducibility throughout the application.  Additionally, the guidance encourages a robust peer review and gives special consideration to the use of both males and females in biomedical research, as well as to authentication of key biological and chemical resources.

Outlined below are the areas most significantly affected by the new guidance:

Scientific premise of proposed research

While there has always been the expectation that researchers describe the strengths and weaknesses of prior research critical to the application, it is now expected that this description include attention to the rigor of the previous experimental designs as well as to consideration of appropriate biological variables (e.g., sex differences in subject pool) and authentication of key resources (e.g., cell lines, speciality chemicals).

Scientific rigor in experimental design

Not only should previous research be scrutinized for accuracy and precision, but the proposed research should also be robust and unbiased, including full transparency in detailing the experimental design.  As always, researchers in the field should be able to read and replicate the experimental design in order to extend the findings and advance the field.

Consideration of relevant biological variables in experimental design

Often overlooked in both animal and human subject study designs are biological differences between females and males.  Researchers must justify subject pool demographics and demonstrate understanding of potential sex-based differences in biological function, disease processes, and treatment responses. (Learn more about what it means to consider sex as a relevant biological variable in this post on the NIH blog, Extramural Nexus.)  In addition to sex-based differences, other crucial variables include age and weight, as well as current and previous health conditions.

Authentication of key biological and chemical resources

Key biological and chemical resources should be verified since resources can vary over time and between suppliers.  Researchers must demonstrate quality and quantity of resources, ensuring design replicability.

To learn more about enhancing rigor and reproducibility in the NIH grant application and review process, visit the NIH Office of Extramural Research.


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

Hooded rat photo by Jason Snyder via Wikimedia Commons. SH-SY5Y cell line photo by Reid Offringa via Wikimedia Commons. Both used under Creative Commons license.