The Ten Initiatives: Research Leveraging

Research Leveraging
Point Person:
Jan Nisbet, senior vice provost for research

Research Leveraging Initiative

The Research Leveraging Initiative provides start-up funding for promising research projects that address problems of critical importance and contribute to the intellectual vitality of the institution. Through the New Ventures Fund, support is being provided to groups of faculty and staff to organize around an innovative theme in preparation for submission of a major proposal. The focus of this initiative is to position interdisciplinary groups of faculty and other key research personnel to be competitive for major external grants that will advance new ideas and paradigms. Designed to enhance research and scholarship, and extramural funding at UNH, the awards will support faculty release time, graduate students, travel, and other activities necessary to advance a competitive proposal to federal agencies and private foundations.

The groups that received the awards were selected through a two-phase process. First, 3-page pre-proposals submitted by 14 potential teams were submitted in November, 2010 and evaluated by members of the New Ventures Advisory Committee. In the second phase, the eight groups with the highest ranked pre-proposals were invited to submit 10-page proposals in February, 2011. Members of the New Ventures Advisory Committee reviewed the proposals.

While the original intention was to select 5 groups to receive awards, the Committee found all the proposals compelling, and so made awards to all 8 teams over a longer period of time. The projects for which the teams will develop proposals are:

  • Biofuel Generation Using Clostridial Bacteria Modified with Zeolite Nanostructures
  • Center for Excellence in Geosciences Education
  • Center for Health Analytics at the University of New Hampshire
  • Collaborative for Indigenous and Rural Science Education (CIRSE)
  • Development of a UNH Center for Integrative Analyses of the Neural Basis of Behavior
  • Incubating Interdisciplinary Sustainability Science Research at UNH
  • Landscapes, Networks, & Social Resource Decisions: Using Geospatial Technologies to Create Long-Term Models of Firewood Use
  • Societal Dynamics of the Maya Collapse: Insights from archaeological, geochemical and environmental analyses

The eight projects are visionary, leverage existing strengths and infrastructure, involve community, business, and/or academic partners, and employ teams comprised of tenure track faculty, research faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students and staff.  The teams have members from CEPS, CHHS, COLA, COLSA, WSBE, the Graduate School, the Carsey Institute, the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans & Space, the Institute on Disability, the NH Institute on Health Policy & Practice, the Research Computing Center, and the University Office of Sustainability.

Redesign of the OSVPR Web site

The website for the Research Office has been redesigned to:

  • Bring the tools and services provided by all the Research Office support units to a single, user-oriented site created using best practices for web design
  • Serve as an entry point for businesses and others seeking to become involved in UNH research or take advantage of the tools and services available
  • Showcase the breadth and depth of the research and scholarship and creative activity taking place at UNH

The revamping of the website was conducted with input from internal and external stakeholders, the design services of PixelMEDIA and the implementation and training services of UNH Information Technology’s Web Solutions.  Lynnette Hentges (OSVPR’s Office of Research Development and Communications) coordinated the project and now serves as the web master. Well-received since its launch in mid-March, the site has undergone design refinement to reflect user needs.  Addition of content and site usability optimization will be an ongoing activity.

Van Scoyoc and Associates

Van Scoyoc and Associates is an external federal relations firm that UNH engages to assist us to better link faculty with current agency interests and funding opportunities. In addition to supporting individual faculty members, they assist in the development of large-scale interdisciplinary proposals that capitalize on UNH’s research strengths in such areas as alternative energy, material science, marine research, space science, sustainability, poverty and disability, psychology, child victimization, and the arts and humanities.

Kathy Cataneo, Director of the OSVPR’s Office of Research Development and Communications, has coordinated VSA’s activities with UNH, including a series of visits to campus by VSA’s Dr. Kristin Bennett to meet faculty, staff and students and learn about UNH research and facilities.  VSA has provided advice and assistance in the development of strategic proposals by UNH to, among others, the Dept. of Energy’s Early Career Research Program and the National Science Foundation’s CAREER, Major Research Instrumentation (MRI), and Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) programs.  

What's happening now and plans for the future

The Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Engagement and Academic Outreach (OSVPEAO), with the continued assistance of the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Research (OSVPR), plans to conduct the second Research and Engagement Academy in the spring of 2012. Nominations by the deans will be requested in the fall. It is expected that, over the next five years, 100 faculty members will have the opportunity to be involved in this academy as scholars or coaches.

The Research Leveraging Initiative teams are in the process of fleshing out their project plans, identifying funding opportunities and preparing their proposals for submission to the potential sponsors.  Reports on their progress will be provided by the teams to the New Ventures Advisory Committee and the Office of the Provost.  The teams are expected to submit full proposals to federal agencies or foundations within 18-24 months of receiving the funds.

Work with VSA will focus on developing competitive proposals for large-scale, multidisciplinary projects for submission to the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Science Foundation.  Assisting new faculty with their proposals, particularly proposals to the federal agencies’ early career programs, will continue to be a priority as well.