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Research

Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities, and Discovery (RSCAD) News

March 2, 2017

The weekly RSCAD newsletter provides the latest research news, funding opportunities, and academic trends. 

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From the Desk of the VPR

Introducing the Research Resources Database and some important research administration improvements.

 

In support of a top 50 public research university with a land-grant focus, my vision is for the Office of the Vice President for Research to provide investments, strategies, and business models; a comprehensive grant management program; comprehensive training in safe, effective, ethical research practices; leadership in technology transfer and corporate partnerships; and leadership and partnership to promote a diverse RSCAD environment. As we have worked to refresh our unit’s strategic plan, we have made progress on some tools to help us fulfill those objectives.

K-State Research Resources Database

Whenever our office convenes discussions about research resources, we hear that K-State needs a central database of facilities and equipment. Thanks to collaboration among several units in the VPR office, and help from Mark Clarke in the College of Engineering, we now have such a database available. Information in the K-State Research Resources Database was initially gathered from 2016 Research Showcase exhibitors. We have worked with that group, plus a few other eager beta testers, to test and start expanding the database to ensure that we can develop it into a robust tool to help those both inside and outside K-State find information. We are especially grateful to the College of Veterinary Medicine, which stepped up with enthusiasm to provide additional information to include in the database.

We invite everyone on campus to take a look at the database and help us add and improve our records. The process is fairly self-explanatory, and you’ll find instructions on the website. We will continue to refine the database in the coming months and welcome your questions or comments; please direct them to orsp@ksu.edu.

Research Administration System

Another need that has been mentioned in previous research task force reports is better coordination of systems to support proposals, institutionalize compliance functions across the campus, and streamline and coordinate compliance and safety functions. Our office formed a committee in September 2015 to examine this problem. The committee included representatives from IT Services, several colleges (Veterinary Medicine, Agriculture, Arts & Sciences, and Engineering), the Division of Financial Services, PreAward Services, and the University Research Compliance Office. The group provided findings in May 2016 that summarized the extremely costly price tag for available vendor-provided systems and the fact that none of these systems fully addressed the functionality identified by this group as necessary for K-State’s diverse RSCAD activities. The group then reconvened to develop a strategy for moving forward in a resource-constrained environment.

The committee has made some excellent recommendations, and we are moving forward with several items that will improve the experience of our faculty and support staff through enhancement of existing systems and acquisition of subsidiary solutions that automate some manual processes.

  • Compliance training status: This solution will help to streamline the proposal development process by allowing grant administrators self-service access to verify compliance training statuses. 
  • Sponsored award reporting: Campus users have asked for access to sponsored research award data in different formats. Rollout of a reporting system is underway. The system will provide interactive prebuilt reports and self-service ad-hoc report capabilities. VPR units are testing the system, and we have informed the Associate Deans for Research and Cabinet. College research administration teams are next on the list, and the entire RSCAD community should have access by the end of this calendar year.
  • Opportunity management database: This database supports the Funding Connection. Currently we do not have an easy way to access and utilize the funding information we enter into this database each week. The new version will have a “friendlier” data entry interface and will allow us tailor queries to the database for upcoming recurring grants. This latter ability will allow us to provide a more complete picture of the funding opportunities as well as provide information to faculty in a more timely manner. These improvements are expected to be complete in early 2018.
  • eProposal/eSign: The current system was initially developed by the College of Engineering as an internal tool and later expanded and deployed campus-wide in response to the 2010 Research Infrastructure Task Force to allow for timely electronic approval and routing of RSCAD documents. Planned updates will improve workflow and routing functionality, integration with other systems such as compliance and proposal and award data, and file archiving and sharing. These updates are slated for completion in 2018.
  • Pivot: ProQuest Pivot contains the largest available collection of searchable profiles of full-time researchers from all over the world. It can be a useful tool for identifying potential collaborators as well as for highlighting K-State expertise to potential external parties who are seeking talent and capabilities within our faculty. We are working with ProQuest to refine its update procedures for K-State profiles. Completion is expected at the end of 2018.
  • Compliance solution: Another area of need is a tool to modernize time-consuming, paper-driven compliance processes to reduce time and effort for both investigators and University Research Compliance Office staff, reduce the risk of non-compliance, and allow for greater post-approval monitoring. The committee is working to identify or develop an adaptable solution.

These timelines are ambitious, and we continue to be aggressive in pursuing improvements for our researchers. Thanks to all the faculty and staff who have been working these issues on the committee and to those who have taken time to offer feedback.

— Peter

Announcements and Events icon

Announcements and Events

Don't miss training opportunities, resources, and other events or news for K-State researchers.

Find out about upcoming science communication training opportunities, participate in the final Innovation and Economic Prosperity designation process open forum, and more. 
Science Communication

Sunset Zoo, the K-State Center for Engagement and Community Development, and the K-State Graduate School are offering a science communication training to faculty and researchers, including postdoctoral fellows. The workshop will take place from 12:30-4:30 p.m. March 11 with a Tallgrass Taphouse-sponsored reception to follow from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Interested faculty members must fill out a simple application by 5 p.m. March 6; participants will be notified of acceptance into the training on March 8. Read more about the program.

Innovation and Economic Prosperity

Stakeholder input and involvement is critical to the success of obtaining the Innovation and Economic Prosperity designation. The second of two open forums will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, March 6, in the seminar room at the Manhattan/K-State Innovation Center at 2005 Research Park Circle. Please register to attend and email Kiley Moody at kmoody@k-state.edu if you have questions. Read more about the program.

Workshops and Training

Info sessions, training opportunities, and workshops are listed on our events calendar. Upcoming events:

  • Research communication workshop: March 7
  • NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (IUCRC) Program info session: March 29
  • NSF CAREER workshop: April 19
  • Broader impacts info session and exhibition: May 10
Research Video

Student-made videos featuring work of National Science Foundation-funded K-State researchers will be featured by NSF’s Science 360 News in the coming weeks. Many thanks to Tom Hallaq in Journalism and Mass Communications and Han Yu in English for supporting students in their efforts to learn how to create effective videos, news releases, and social media posts about research. Thank you to the researchers, too, for the time they invested in these projects. Here’s when to find them:

  • Climate variability: A Grassland Bird's Changing World; Alice Boyle — March 2
  • Cell migration; Jocelyn McDonald — March 7
  • Atlantic molly, fish that adapt to extreme environments; Michi Tobler — March 15
  • Free radical molecules and inhibitors to fight Alzheimers, ALS, and Parkinsons; Christopher Culbertson — March 21
  • Physport, a research-based tool to help physics teachers; Eleanor Sayre — March 30
  • Polyploidy, the condition of having more than one set of chromosomes, in Phlox species; Carolyn Ferguson — Apil 7

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Funding Highlights

The Funding Connection is a weekly publication of the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs.

National Science Foundation opportunities in engineering-related programs abound this week.

 

The National Science Foundation has a number of engineering-related standing programs. Ten of these are included in this week's Funding Connection covering the following topics: Thermal Transport Processes, Cellular and Biochemical Engineering, Disability and Rehabilitation Engineering, Engineering of Biomedical Systems, Nano-biosensing, Particulate and Multiphase Processes, Fluid Dynamics, Environmental Sustainability, Process Separations, and Biophotonics. All are due on October 20, 2017.

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Agency News and Trending Topics

Keep abreast of funding agency updates and trending RSCAD topics that are in the news. 

Updates from ARPA-E and NSF, Tallgrass Artist Residency, bees learn football, and more. 
ARPA-E Projects Receive More Than $1.8 Billion in Private Follow-On Funding for Transformational Energy Technologies

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) today announced that a group of 74 project teams has attracted over $1.8 billion in private sector follow-on funding since the agency’s founding in 2009. The announcement was made at the eighth annual ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. In addition, ARPA-E, tasked with supporting transformative innovation in the energy sector, announced that 56 projects have formed new companies, 68 projects have partnered with other government agencies for further development, and an ever-increasing number of technologies have been incorporated into products sold on the market today. Find this and other ARPA-E news, such as technology demos at the 2017 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit.

Departing Senior NSF Manager Offers Hopeful Assessment of Agency’s Future

“I think NSF is in good shape,” says Buckius, who left NSF on 25 January and has reclaimed a faculty position in the mechanical engineering department at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. “I don’t want to say, ‘Don’t worry.’ But I’m confident that there is considerable support for NSF’s mission of supporting fundamental research.”

Open Science Prize Announces Epidemic Tracking Tool as Grand Prize Winner

A prototype online platform that uses real-time visualization and viral genome data to track the spread of global pathogens such as Zika and Ebola is the grand prize winner of the Open Science Prize. The international team competition is an initiative by the National Institutes of Health, in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Tallgrass Artist Residency

The Tallgrass Artist Residency is now accepting applications from artists currently living in a place within the ecological boundaries of the North American prairie to participate in the 2017 residency program. The residency program was first implemented in 2016 with funding from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission(KCAIC)?s Arts Integration Program, and will be returning this year as a partnership program between KCAIC and the Center for Living Education, a non-profit organization that owns the Bank Art Space in Matfield Green, Kansas. The Tallgrass Artist Residency will invite 8-10 artists to participate in two-week residency periods between April 17 and September 22, 2017. During individual residency periods, each artist will give a public presentation (i.e. artist talk, workshop, demo, performance). Dates and times TBD. Artists will also participate in a group exhibition at the Bank Art Space and the Tallgrass Artist Symposium at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art in Manhattan, KS. The opening of the exhibition and the symposium of artist talks will take place on September 23, 2017.

Bees Learn Football From Their Buddies

Bees quickly master an insect version of football — with a sweet reward at the end — just by watching another bee handle the ball, suggesting that the tiny pollinators are capable of sophisticated learning, says a study in Science.

Does Studying Economics Make You Selfish?

Social science research finds that students who are taught classical economics about how humans act in their rational self-interest, become more likely to act selfishly after learning those lessons.

The Drug-Resistant Bacteria That Pose the Greatest Health Threats

The World Health Organization (WHO) has for the first time released a list of drug-resistant bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health — and for which new antibiotics are desperately needed. The agency's aim in listing these 'priority pathogens' is to steer funds towards development of the most crucial antimicrobials. Researchers say the list is a useful reminder of the danger of bacteria that are becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Science Societies Have Long Shunned Politics. But Now They’re Ready to March.

Some of the nation's biggest scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Geophysical Union, are partnering with grass-roots organizers to plan the March for Science, an Earth Day rally in Washington and cities around the world aimed at defending "robustly funded and publicly communicated science."

Research Spotlight

Waithaka Mwangi, an associate professor in the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, talks about his work and "mind-blowing" collaborations on bovine anitbodies and their reported capability to neutralize HIV.

Seek

Read Seek, K-State's research magazine