A decision by the University of Georgia to invest $300,000 in its faculty could pay dividends for years to come through increased grant support and research advances in human health, education and other fields.
Six proposals have been funded through the university’s new Interdisciplinary Proposal Development program, which provides cross-disciplinary teams of faculty with seed money that allows them to generate preliminary data that can give them a competitive edge as they apply for grants from federal agencies and private foundations.
“This program is another indication of the University of Georgia’s commitment to giving its faculty the resources they need to succeed,” said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and the proposals we received were so promising that we increased this year’s funding pool from $200,000 to $300,000.”
Vice President for Research David Lee, whose office administers the program, noted that faculty representing nearly every school and college submitted a total of 50 proposals.
“We have been promoting interdisciplinary collaborations for some time now, knowing that these are high on the priority list for federal agencies that fund university research,” Lee said. “Now, this IPD program gives us an important tool with which to help faculty jumpstart interdisciplinary programs.”
The six proposals selected for funding, along with their investigators and targeted agency for external grant submission, are:
- Understanding the relationship between maternal obesity, prenatal development, infant growth, and childhood obesity risk; principal investigator Lynn Bailey, professor and head of the department of foods and nutrition, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, with co-principal investigators Leann Birch, foods and nutrition; Richard Meagher, genetics; Stephen Rathbun, epidemiology and biostatistics; Alex Anderson, foods and nutrition; Hea Jin Park, foods and nutrition; Dorothy Hausman; foods and nutrition. Targeted agency: National Institute of Child Health and Development.;
- Developing RoboSTEM, a collection of open educational resources to help elementary school teachers teach STEM subjects through robotics and design-based learning; principal investigator ChanMin Kim, assistant professor, College of Education; National Science Foundation; with co-PIs Prashant Doshi, computer science; Roger Hill, career and information studies.
- Developing new animal models for studying tuberculosis infection and transmission, potentially leading to new vaccine development; principal investigator Fred Quinn, professor and head of the department of infectious diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture; with co-PIs Biao He, Vanessa Ezenwa, Russ Karls, Tuhina Gupta, Mark Tompkins, Balazs Rada, infectious diseases; Christopher Whalen, epidemiology and biostatistics; Kaori Sakamoto, pathology; Steve Harvey, population health.
- Creating a research and risk-assessment network focused on the challenges of sustainability in the coastal zone; principal investigator Clifton Brock Woodson, assistant professor, College of Engineering; National Science Foundation; with co-PIs Jenna Jambeck, Jason Christian, Luke Li, engineering; Samantha Joye, Christof Meile, Renato Castelao, marine sciences; William Savidge, Catherine Edwards and Aron Stubbins, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography.
- Examining the combined effect of obesity and sleep apnea on gene expression networks that affect cardiovascular disease risk factors; principal investigator Bradley Phillips, professor and head of the department of clinical and administrative pharmacy, College of Pharmacy; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; with co-PIs Richard Meagher, Jonathan Arnold, genetics; Clifton Baile, foods and nutrition.
- Examining the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 17th to 19th century; principal investigator Nicholas Allen, Franklin Professor of English and director of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts; National Endowment for the Humanities; with co-PIs Valerie Babb, African American studies; Stephen Berry, Ben Ehlers, Claudio Saunt, history; David Holcomb, Carl Vinson Institute of Government; Toby Graham, University Libraries.
The proposals were reviewed by a group of faculty and administrators jointly assembled by the provost and vice president for research and judged on the basis of their competitiveness for the indicated funding opportunity. Maximum awards through the IPD program are $75,000, but typical awards are at or below $50,000. In accepting IPD awards, teams commit to submitting a grant proposal for the identified external funding opportunity by the agency deadline. Recipients will be supported by the GrantSMART team, which was established by the Office of the Vice President for Research in 2013 to assist faculty in assembling complex, multi-investigator and multi-institution proposals.