Monday, Oct. 12, 2009
K-STATE MATHEMATICS PROFESSOR SERVING AS PROGRAM DIRECTOR AT NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University professor is learning firsthand the trends and future direction of scientific research by serving as a program director for the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C.
Zongzhu Lin, professor of mathematics, said his experience as a program director with the foundation's Visiting Scientists, Engineers and Educators Program should benefit K-State.
"Part of my purpose of serving as an NSF program director is to provide myself with a broader vision of science research, such as its current trends and future directions," Lin said. "This special opportunity also is helping me understand the grant-proposal reviewing and decision-making process at the National Science Foundation so I can bring this back to K-State."
Individuals appointed to the Visiting Scientists, Engineers and Educators program are on a non-paid leave of absence from their institution. Lin served as a program director on an intermittent basis from August 2008 to January 2009. He became a full-time program director Jan. 21. His appointment is for one year, but is renewable up to three years.
Lin said program directors organize the evaluation process of submitted proposals, manage the program budget and make recommendations on whether to award or decline a submitted proposal.
"For awarded grants, the program directors periodically check the progress of the projects to make sure they are on track, make recommendations on future funding commitment to previously awarded grants, and review the grant's annual progress report and final project report," he said.
"Program directors also write project highlights to inform the general public of the achievements of supported projects and their impacts," Lin said. "In addition, we participate in various hearings and meetings to learn national priorities on science and technology as well as government policy and initiatives in these areas."
In addition, program directors are continuing with their own research. Lin periodically returns to K-State for his research and graduate student supervision. Even when he is not physically on campus, Lin is still involved with K-State mathematics department business, including supervising his three doctoral students on their research by using Internet video tools.
Lin said his experience will help him be able to train K-State graduate students and junior faculty members with their research proposal writing and increase their chances of being funded.
"This position has provided me with the experience to evaluate proposals or projects on their strengths and weaknesses from a much broader context than just my own research field," he said. "I have been back to K-State twice since January to meet individually with some faculty members who are preparing National Science Foundation proposals, as well as to work with my graduate students' research project. I also have been mentoring a few junior faculty members in the K-State mathematics department on their research proposals by showing them how to write proposals for the grant programs that will best suit their work. I plan to expand this training to the broader K-State academic community when I return."Lin joined K-State in 1993 and was promoted to full professor in 2002. His specialties include representation theory of algebraic groups, quantum groups and lie algebras. Lin earned his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Massachusetts.