Categories
Announcements From the VPR

Hello and Happy New Year! I hope all of you had a much needed holiday break, after another very challenging semester.

I want to talk about a very important topic: communications. If an organization’s business functions can be compared to a circulatory system, distributing vital resources to maintain biological function, then communication is the nervous system. Its signals hold the organism together as a cohesive whole, passing information from one part to another and feeding vital data to the body’s executive capacity. Simply put, an organization with dysfunctional communications is very likely to be dysfunctional itself.

While interviewing for the job of VPR, I talked about the importance of effective communications in reaching UGA’s vast research potential. In my first day on the job, I met with our research communications director, Michael Terrazas, to talk about our priorities in improving our research and internal communications practices.

Last fall we surveyed you to gauge your needs and preferences for research communications (thanks to all of you who participated), and you’ll soon see the results of these efforts. First, most of you are reading this after receiving the Office of Research’s main internal newsletter, now called Research Insights, and you probably noticed some significant changes.

We’ll continue to rely on Research Insights as our primary vehicle for conveying regular, monthly updates about funding opportunities, policy changes and other news of interest to campus researchers. We also hope the newsletter’s new look and content make it both easier to read and more relevant.

One change is the addition of a funding opportunities section specifically for arts and humanities researchers, offered in collaboration with the Willson Center for Humanities & Arts.

If you are a humanities or arts scholar, or if you are looking for research collaborations with your colleagues in those disciplines, I encourage you to  also subscribe to the Willson Center’s own newsletter to stay abreast of opportunities.

Another change we’re making is the creation of more opportunities for two-way communication with our researchers and scholars across UGA. Today, January 20, we are holding a town hall with personnel directly affiliated with the Office of Research, and next fall we plan to host a similar event that will be open to anyone on campus. I look forward to participating in these events and hearing feedback directly from you, the community we serve.

We’ll also revive the Research Live webinars launched during the pandemic. Originally conceived as virtual events to address research issues related to COVID, we will regularize this series to include monthly presentations from individual units within the Office of Research, while still leaving room to tackle specific issues ad hoc as they arise.

These are just a few of the more visible changes we are making, and we will use your participation and feedback to optimize these activities as we go. I realize that, in a university as large and complex as UGA, there is no way we can fully address the needs of every individual researcher on campus. But we will try harder to make what we do more reflective of the diversity of inquiry at UGA, as well as provide enhanced mechanisms for you to provide feedback and help us continually improve.

Speaking of which, please share your feedback regarding communications either with me or with Mike at michael.terrazas@uga.edu. Your input is critical to ensuring that our activities meet the needs of the greatest number of investigators possible.

Thank you, and I hope 2022 is off to a healthy and productive start for all of you.

Karen J. L. Burg
Vice President for Research
Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research

Categories
Announcements From the VPR

Shortly after I assumed the role of Vice President for Research (VPR) on July 1, I embarked on a “listening tour” of UGA’s colleges and schools and a “reading tour” of past surveys about UGA research. The questions I wanted to answer include: What are the obstacles preventing you from successfully achieving the goals defined in your Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship strategic plans, and how can the Office of Research (OoR) help?

It’s hard to believe nearly five months have passed since I started this process, but these listening and reading sessions—which are ongoing—have been invaluable in helping identify the challenges UGA researchers face. I am reminded that the research itself is nearly as diverse in needs and potential as the 38,000 students who work in the laboratories, studios, libraries, performance halls, field locations and other research and creative inquiry spaces around the state of Georgia and beyond.

Still, in less than half a year we have made some real progress and launched efforts to address several of the issues that have been revealed, some of which I’ve described in this news space. My first priority as VPR, as I’ve expressed many times, is to rebuild and modernize UGA’s research infrastructure to align it with the tremendous growth in research activity UGA has experienced over the last decade. As we near the end of 2021 and look ahead to a new year, it’s worth recapping some of these efforts:

Human infrastructure. We have implemented many technological systems and digital tools to bring efficiencies to our research and business operations; however, staff members with systems expertise are crucial to realizing these efficiencies and the full potential of the systems. In the last 10 years, as research activity has grown significantly, Office of Research staffing has remained flat, and in some instances (for example as a result of a 7% pandemic induced budget cut in 2020) it has decreased, while compensation has fallen well below competitive levels. These realities undermine our burgeoning research needs; accordingly, I have redirected our limited resources to actively recruit and retain staff in OoR units, including Innovation Gateway, Research Integrity and Safety (e.g., our Human Subjects Office, or HSO), Sponsored Projects Administration, and Research Communications.

Institutional Review Board review. The pandemic and staffing challenges have significantly diminished our ability to efficiently and expeditiously evaluate and approve submissions to our Institutional Review Board (IRB). To augment our existing agreement with WCG IRB, founded in 1968 as the world’s first independent IRB, and to address a backlog of submissions, we’ve entered into a similar agreement with Sterling IRB. While commercial IRBs do not provide the hands-on service our HSO provides, they will certainly improve the throughput of research protocols (at no cost to the researcher) while we rebuild the staffing in HSO. Concurrently, we are reorganizing the structure of the HSO and creating a front-facing group specifically to work directly with researchers to develop IRB protocols for submission.

Physical & IT infrastructure. My last two blog posts both described efforts to improve our infrastructure related to facilities and information technology, so I won’t review those efforts in detail here. The newly launched FMD-Research Working Group, as well as our own Office of Information Technology, are working to identify and address multiple issues and needs, and I am committed to working with the Provost and President to identify resources to address these needs, beginning with those that affect the widest number of researchers. These are not quick fixes, and we will keep you informed as these initiatives progress and take shape.

Internal communications. For the past three years, our Office of Research Communications has revamped its activities and channels to showcase UGA research success for external audiences—indeed, this objective is explicit in UGA’s 2025 strategic plan. Alongside this work, the “RComm” team now is reimagining how we talk and listen to our own internal audiences. Earlier this fall we surveyed faculty on needs and preferences for research-related communications, and you’ll start to see the results of this effort as early as January.

Strengthening support for humanities & arts. Like those at many large research universities, we work hard to support all research disciplines. Feedback to our internal communications survey suggests we don’t always succeed. With the generous help of the Willson Center for Humanities & Arts, we are working to identify ways we can better provide faculty members in these areas with information they need to advance their own research programs while staying connected—in an era of increasing interdisciplinary collaboration—with colleagues from other disciplines.

I recently participated in my first UGA Research Foundation (UGARF) Board of Directors meeting as UGARF’s executive vice president. Part of that meeting is a review of recent sponsored research activity, including highlights of a few notable awarded projects. We ensured the Board’s materials included a balance of sponsored awards in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as several projects that were not supported by external sponsored funds. Indeed, research on the UGA campus and beyond is research, whether it’s supported by a seven-figure grant or not. Research produces new knowledge and advances the human condition. It “inquires into the nature of things,” to quote our UGA motto.

As we move through this holiday season in a time of so much uncertainty and division in the world, I look forward to a new year of recognizing and supporting the value of all our researchers, across all disciplines and at all levels, from the newest undergraduates to the most seasoned faculty researchers.

It has been a whirlwind five months. Have a wonderful holiday, and I’ll see you in 2022.

Karen J. L. Burg
Vice President for Research
Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research

Categories
Announcements From the VPR

Last month I wrote about a new working group spanning the Office of Research (OoR) and UGA’s Facilities Management Division that will address a range of infrastructure and communication issues that affect our research enterprise. This month I am pleased to introduce to you a unit within OoR that is hard at work making improvements to the information technology resources upon which we all rely in our research programs.

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) team , led by Director Gary Rachel, often flies under the radar. However, the team members work to produce critical OoR administrative applications and to integrate OoR data with other critical campus systems, including:

  • Grants Portal: This is the online system used for the institutional management of grants proposals and grant awards/modifications. This system handles all required approval processes electronically and provides process transparency to faculty and unit staff. The Grants Portal electronically communicates project details and budget information to UGA’s Financial Management System (see below), significantly reducing the award setup time once sponsored funding is received.
  • PeopleSoft Financial Management System: UGA’s Financial Management System is built with PeopleSoft software and is part of OneSource, an ongoing UGA initiative to integrate business, HR and other processes into a single seamless interface. The Financial Management System is used for institutional financial accounting, including grants financial accounting.
  • Institutional Review Board (IRB) Portal: This system is used for the management and approval of human subjects protocols (i.e., for research concerning living individuals). All protocol operations are completed online, including initial review, requests for clarifications, IRB committee processing and approved protocol modification and closeout. The use of this type of system results in a process that is highly compliant, transparent to faculty and staff, more efficient, and less time-consuming. We’ve received several suggestions on how this portal could be improved and are exploring improvement options.
  • Office of Institutional Research (OIR) Warehouse: This centralized data repository is managed by the EITS Office of Institutional Research. The warehouse stores data that is generated or reported from across the institution and allows a consistent data set for a variety of purposes, including reports, dashboards, graphs and benchmarking for research proposals.

The OoR Office of Information Technology currently comprises eight staff members:

  • Michelle Muiruri, Jon Thibodeau and team lead Derrick Bray make up the end user and devices team. This team is focused on assisting end users of OoR applications and software with day-to-day operations, expanding application capabilities, and ensuring devices are properly managed and secure.
  • Trevor Sellers and team lead Jonathan Pruitt make up the backend systems team, which works to ensure all research applications managed by the OoR are served securely without interruption, and to maintain the foundational services used by the other teams, such as data storage and backup.
  • Keythe Gentry, Charlie Hall and team lead Kevin Ralphs make up the application team, which maintains existing OoR applications (such as the grants portal) and works to develop new applications as needed.

The team works closely with UGA’s Enterprise Information Technology Services (EITS), Information Security and college/school IT units. I thought it would be helpful to share examples of the efforts of Gary and his team that have made a significant and positive impact on the efficiency of UGA research operations.

Grants Portal/PeopleSoft integration: All of us want our sponsored research awards to be processed and managed efficiently. At an institution as large as UGA, this requires a grants portal that can automate a significant portion of the setup process in PeopleSoft, easing the burden not just on faculty but for unit business teams as well. Our OIT continues to expand this functionality while making the system more user-friendly and resilient. The feedback many of you have provided is allowing us to prioritize and make much needed improvements; please continue to provide your thoughts.

End-user support: OIT provides support to a wide variety of units within the Office of Research, including administrative offices, research integrity and safety offices, centers, institutes, and core facilities, many of which are staffed by personnel with appointments in academic units. Recent enhancements to the end-user support processes include the adoption of a more streamlined ticketing process and improved remote help capabilities. When a user needs any type of IT assistance, they can submit a request for help here. The help request (a “ticket”) will be acknowledged and handled quickly, often within minutes, via our remote support process. Gary focuses on providing continuing education for his team so they can provide the best support possible.

Application enhancement: The OIT team works to improve research-specific applications. One ongoing area of improvement is to UGA’s IRB Portal, including better data displays and simplified form entry. Currently the OIT team is planning new applications to streamline submission, approval and archiving of biosafety and chemical safety plans.

OIR Warehouse access: The EITS Office of Institutional Research is working on adding proposal submission and award data (dollar amounts, sponsor, key dates and personnel, etc.) to its data warehouse. Meanwhile our OIT team is working to expand the data available to the warehouse by providing additional research-relevant data families, including compliance. The goal is to enable units to evaluate their activities in these areas without having to make special requests for data.

System monitoring: Wouldn’t it be great if, when one of your devices fails to function normally, tech support proactively reached out to you? The OIT team is working to enhance its device monitoring to do exactly this, providing automatic notifications when a desktop, laptop or tablet is experiencing performance issues, and enabling its technicians to provide a proactive resolution to the user. On the back end, they’re also expanding application and system resiliency (i.e., avoiding unexpected system failures), incorporating multiple redundancies to every component, to ensure users have access to the resources they need whenever they need them.

Information technology is one of those areas where, when things are working smoothly, few people notice. In fact, that’s the point: we expect things to simply work. But, in an era of significant technological change, it takes continuous effort by teams of dedicated professionals to keep everything running smoothly.

A big thank you to Gary and team for the hard work of OIT in supporting our research efforts! If you have questions or suggestions for our OIT group, please send them to Gary at gcrachel@uga.edu and/or to ovpr@uga.edu.

Karen J. L. Burg
Vice President for Research
Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research

Categories
Announcements

UGA research labs have reported issues with deliveries of liquid nitrogen (LN2) from Airgas, the State of Georgia’s mandatory supplier. Today Airgas informed UGA that they are experiencing shortages of 230L containers as well as labor challenges. While Airgas is low on 230L liquid nitrogen cylinders, they have a surplus of 180L cylinders. Airgas is working to resolve both of these issues. In the meantime:

Consider ordering 180L cylinders: Please consider temporarily ordering 180L cylinders of LN2 rather than 230L cylinders. This will help to balance supply and demand and expedite deliveries. In UGAmart, you can use the search term “liquid nitrogen” in the Airgas punchout to view various quantities and grades of LN2. A short video on the LN2 purchasing process is available here.

Be aware of emergency backup options: UGA’s Central Research Stores will continue to maintain emergency stock of LN2 to ensure that our researchers are protected in the event of delayed deliveries. In UGAmart, you will see a section at the top for “UGA Internal Stores & Forms.” UGA Central Research Stores (CRS) is listed as a punchout option, and they can provide emergency stock of LN2 in 10-liter increments. If you have a same-day emergency, please call the CRS warehouse at 706-542-2411.

Thank you for your partnership and collaboration as we work to resolve these issues.

Categories
Announcements From the VPR

As I’ve spoken with individuals and read survey input, I note that research infrastructure concerns are uniformly on the radar of most. Research is housed under the umbrella of the Office of Academic Affairs and Provost, while facilities is housed under the Office of the President, so conversations about research infrastructure are complex and require many important perspectives.

To this end, I’m pleased to announce the launch of the FMD-Research Working Group to address these issues. The group will solicit feedback from campus; develop a list of issues and opportunities with respect to research infrastructure, brainstorm solutions and prioritize action items; consider best practices and processes for planning and repairing infrastructure, and strategize ways of improving communications (for example, FMD to PIs, FMD to research leadership, PIs to research leadership, etc.).

The group’s recommendations will be shared with me and provided to the Provost and the Vice President for Finance and Administration for consideration.

In short, the working group will be asked to offer defined ways that we, as a campus, can work collaboratively in positive, forward-thinking fashion to support research and innovation as we address our many challenges. There will be ample opportunities for input from you, the research community.

Working Group members are:

  • Rob Clark (co-lead), Director of Operations, Maintenance and Projects, Facilities Management Division
  • Michelle Momany (co-lead), Associate Dean; Professor of Fungal Biology, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
  • Michael Bartlett, Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Pharmacy; Associate Dean for Science Education, Research and Technology, College of Pharmacy
  • Carl Bergmann, Associate Vice President for Research Facilities; Associate Director, CCRC; Executive Director, Animal Health Research Center
  • Krista Coleman-Silvers, Assistant Vice President for Facilities & Administration and Director of Space Planning and Management
  • Chas Easley, Associate Professor of Environmental Health Science; Graduate Program Coordinator, College of Public Health
  • Melanie Ford, Director of Construction, Office of University Architects for Facilities Planning
  • Sharron Quisenberry, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty and Graduate Affairs; Director of the Veterinary Medical Experiment Station, College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Bob Stougaard, Assistant Dean for Research, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

A group of individuals, with collective expertise in budget and finance, communications and marketing, and development and fund raising will serve as resource experts as necessary.

Please join me in thanking all members of the working group for their commitment of time and energy. Watch for opportunities to contribute to this important and exciting discussion.

Karen J. L. Burg
Vice President for Research
Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research

Categories
Announcements From the VPR

One of the more unfortunate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, in terms of UGA campus operations, is the restrictions it has placed on our ability to gather as a community and celebrate each other. Just one example: For the last two springs, UGA Honors Week has featured no live award ceremonies, no podium walks, no handshakes as awards are bestowed, no ringing applause from colleagues and friends. I know we’ve all missed those simple symbols of community.

Next spring, I hope, will be different. And in keeping with those hopes, I encourage you to think about who will make those podium walks and hear that applause. Which of your colleagues deserve special recognition? Which junior faculty are making impacts in their field far beyond their years? Which senior faculty should be feted for decades of sustained contributions to the advancement of knowledge? Which faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students are tirelessly and enthusiastically committed to mentoring? Which students are already building research reputations even before they graduate?

The Office of Research website features a list of our internal Research Awards and the criteria for each. This year we’ve added a new Team Impact Award to recognize an entire research team for excellence in innovation and impactful scholarship that could not be accomplished by single individuals.

Formal nominations for all these awards are made by deans and center/institute directors, but please don’t wait for an invitation to nominate, our leaders need everyone’s help in identifying outstanding candidates. I encourage all of you, UGA researchers, to check with your school, college or research unit about the nomination deadlines and procedures.

Not only is honoring the great work of colleagues and students the right thing to do through our internal Awards mechanism, but it also lays the groundwork for nominations for prestigious external awards. So submit those nominations! You never know where one could lead.

Also: On the topic of research community, please mark your calendars for Friday, Oct. 15, from 3-5 p.m., when we will hold our annual research orientation to help faculty learn about the programs and services offered from the Office of Research. This year’s event will be virtual, and it’s open to all faculty and postdoctoral researchers. To register, first log into UGA’s Professional Education Portal and then either search for “Keys to UGA: Launching Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities at UGA” or click this registration link. Hope to see you there!

Best wishes and many thanks,

Karen Burg
Vice President for Research
Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research

Categories
Announcements From the VPR

Hello everyone,

First, let me say how thrilled and honored I am to be serving as the University of Georgia Vice President for Research. Having served as a UGA faculty member since 2016, I’m well aware of the quality of the work our faculty, staff and student investigators produce, and it’s a privilege to serve the UGA research community in this role.

Let me also acknowledge that we begin 2021-22 with some of the same uncertainty we faced a year ago. We’re all anxious about the ongoing pandemic and how it will affect our health and that of our families, students, friends—and, yes, our research programs. Many of you continue to face significant challenges to your work due to COVID-19. I can’t promise that I will erase those challenges in the weeks and months ahead, but I can pledge that the Office of Research (OoR) will do all we can to support you.

Over the past couple of years, there have been multiple surveys, gathering feedback on OoR processes and services—thank you to all of you who provided input—I’ve been carefully reviewing that data; much of this year will be devoted to being responsive to your suggestions and our own self-assessment. When we can fix or improve something, we will. When we’re unable to address a problem, I’ll be upfront about that and the reasons why.

Finally, I want to expand and improve our channels of communication to better exchange information and opportunities. We will spend this fall working on the major Office of Research internal communications vehicles, and every month I will send a personal message highlighting a process or policy improvement, spotlighting a particular OoR office or individual, explaining a research office function, or simply singing the praises of you, our terrific investigators, and the work you do.

Thank you again for the privilege of serving as UGA’s Vice President for Research. We are here in OoR to help you succeed. If you have a question or concern, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Karen Burg
Vice President for Research
Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research

Categories
Announcements Find Funding Limited Submissions

Summary

The Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB), U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL, or the Department), announces the availability of approximately $5,000,000 total costs (subject to the availability of federal funds) for one cooperative agreement to fund a technical assistance project in Ethiopia to reduce child labor in Ethiopia’s agricultural sector, with a focus on the informal sector, using a gender mainstreaming approach.1 The project will focus on vulnerable women and adolescent girls (ages 15-17) working in agriculture. The project will aim to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Outcome 1: Increased capacity of the Government of Ethiopia to address child labor in the agricultural sector, with a focus on the informal sector, using a gender mainstreaming approach.
  • Outcome 2: Improved ability of communities to reduce child labor using a gender mainstreaming approach.
  • Outcome 3: Increased economic stability of households vulnerable to child labor, with a focus on women and girls.
    • Outcome 3.1: Members of vulnerable households have enhanced technical and life skills, and employment services.
    • Outcome 3.2: Members of vulnerable households have diversified income.
    • Outcome 3.3: Members of vulnerable households have increased access to social protections.

Please read the full program announcement before preparing your internal application.

Award Amount

  • Approximately $5,000,000 total costs is expected to be available to fund approximately one award. Applicants may apply for a ceiling amount of up to $5,000,000 total costs.
  • The period of performance is a maximum of 4.5 years (54 months) from the effective date of the award

Eligibility

The following organizations are eligible to apply:

U.S. organizations:

  • Nonprofits, including any faith-based organizations or community-based organizations
  • Public/State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education
  • Private Institutions of Higher Education
  • For-Profit Organizations

Non-U.S. organizations:

  • Non-U.S. Entities, including PIOs, as described in 2 CFR 200.46.

Applicants do not need previous experience managing federal awards, but they must speak persuasively about their ability to leverage other previous experience and bring it to scale in support of a large federal investment.

Cost sharing or matching is not required for this program.

Selection Criteria

Application review criteria are on pages 37 – 38 of the FOA. Please refer to the table at the bottom on page 37 for criteria.

Limitation Details

An Institution may submit one proposal.

If you are interested in submitting for this program, you must first submit an internal application to limsub@uga.edu according to the required instructions below.

Internal Applications must include the following:

  • A cover page listing
    • The name of this funding opportunity and title of your proposal
    • Your name, UGA position, home department, email, and UGA contact information
    • Collaborator names, positions, and institutions (if any)
    • Indicate whether or not you have submitted to this program in the past. If so, please provide a copy of the review at the end of the internal application.
  • A (maximum two-page) proposal summary that addresses the program’s specific selection criteria.
  • One paragraph describing why this proposal should be UGA’s submission (i.e., why it will be the most competitive for this program)
  • Curriculum vitae

Internal Selection

Limited Submission announcements often generate multiple competing proposals.  UGA reviewers judge proposals as they would in any peer review process, so PIs are urged to put their best foot forward.  Along with typical criteria, reviewers will evaluate internal proposals based on their fit with the sponsor’s articulated goals and criteria.

Internal Submission Instructions

The above internal application materials should be submitted via email as a single .PDF file to limsub@uga.edu by the internal deadline listed above.

Questions?

Please submit questions regarding the internal competition to limsub@uga.edu.

For questions directly related to this program, please contact the following program officers:

Sue Levenstein

Grants Management Specialist

levenstein.susan.l@dol.gov

View our calendar for all Current and Closed Limited Submissions.
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Limited Submission?

Categories
Announcements COVID-19 Opportunities Find Funding

Deadline: July 31, 2020

Brief Description: Mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and climate change by creating sustainable solutions using open source technology. 

More information

Categories
Announcements COVID-19 Opportunities Find Funding

Deadline: August 13, 2020

Brief Description: The TD Ready Challenge is an annual North American initiative, which supports organizations developing innovative solutions for a changing world. The 2020 TD Ready Challenge focuses on supporting innovative solutions that address the impacts of the pandemic.

More information