August 2014 CPI News and Updates

Included in this issue:

  • August 13, 2014 CPI meeting with Congressman Bill Flores
  • 2014 PI Survey Now Open
  • Summary of CPI EC meetings with administration
  • Updates from Sponsored Research Services (SRS)
  • Texas A&M Government Relations Update
  • Update from the Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study (TIAS)
  • 2015 Schedule for Grant Writing Seminars and Workshops (GWSW)
  • AAAS Science & Technology (S&T) Policy Fellowships
  • Pending reports from CPI members serving on external committees
  • Limited Submission Funding Opportunity for Texas A&M Faculty and PIs

 

Principal Investigators are encouraged to contact their elected college/unit representatives to bring forward any issues for the Council to address during the monthly meetings. PIs can also contact me directly at slowey@ocaean.tamu.edu or 845-8478.

August 13, 2014 CPI meeting with Congressman Bill Flores
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The next regularly scheduled CPI meeting will be held this Wednesday, August 13, 2014 from 11:30-1:15 p.m. in Rudder 601 with special guest presenter, Congressman Bill Flores. Meetings are webcast live at ttvn.tamu.edu/webcasts on Channel 20, and videos are stored on the “Archives” section of the CPI website.

Over the last several years, the CPI Executive Committee has met regularly with the Congressman, discussing a wide range of issues that affect the Texas A&M research community and adamantly advocating for the growth of research funding at federal agencies; a reduction in the continually increasing amount of the administrative burdens placed upon researchers; and a halt to the implementation of federal guidelines and regulations at the System and agency levels that far exceed what is required by the federal government.

In all of the meetings with the Executive Committee, the Congressman has shown an openness to discuss and listen to a wide variety of issues and concerns facing researchers at Texas A&M.

In preparation of the August 13th meeting, the CPI invited the PI community to submit any items of concern or questions for the Congressman. We have collated all of the questions received from the PI community and at the beginning of the meeting, the Congressman will provide a brief update, then I will ask the Congressman the questions that were submitted by the PI community. After this, then we will have an open forum discussion with the Congressman and the CPI members in attendance.

If anyone experiences any problems with TTVN webcast, the TTVN Video Operations technical staff is available to assist at 979.862.2241.

2014 PI Survey Now Open
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In order for the 2014-15 members of the Council of Principal Investigators to better understand and address those priority issues affecting the Texas A&M research community, please take a few moments to complete the 2014 PI interest survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CPI_14. The survey will be open until noon on September 1, 2014.

The results will be used to inform the CPI leadership and full Council as it prioritizes its meeting schedule and focus areas for the 2014-15 CPI session (Sept. 1, 2014 – August 31, 2015). Results will be published after the September 10, 2014 closed session CPI meeting. If you have any questions regarding the survey, please contact Jason Whisenant at jwhisenant@tamu.edu or 979.458.1861.

Summary of CPI EC meetings with administration
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SRS

The CPI EC held its monthly coordination meeting with invited research administration representatives from AgriLife, HSC, Texas A&M, TEES and TTI on August 6, 2014.  Attendees discussed the process of accounting for research projects at SRS. It is the CPI's understanding that some administrators (e.g., Texas A&M, TEES, AgriLife Research, etc.) are proposing that when multiple PIs are on the same proposal, that SRS should complete separate individual budgets for each PI to ensure accurate accounting (e.g., IDC, time and effort, etc.). An administrator had noted that when a proposal has multiple investigators from multiple agencies, trying to pay for things like travel from different accounts can become an administrative nightmare.

Attendees discussed the pros and cons relating to using single or separate budgets. Ultimately, it was agreed that there should be thresholds of when SRS requires separate budgets, suggesting separate budgets may be used when there are three or more PIs on a proposal. CPI members serving on the SRS PI/Faculty Advisory Committee (PIFAC) will bring these issues up at the next meeting.

Updates from the Division of Research and Vice President for Research

The Texas A&M University Division of Research will be responsible for overseeing High-Performance Computing (HPC) equipment purchased by the A&M System. The Division of Research will create an HPC user committee that will include representatives from A&M System agencies located in Brazos County. The Division of Research will also share grant-writing capabilities with AgriLife Research and TEES.

Research Compliance and Biosafety

Research Compliance and Biosafety has been reviewing their processes and services, generating data to determine how approval times and other service function can be enhanced. They are also checking on data from peer institutions their turn around times for approval. Once the data is available, they will publish the results of their current turnaround times and hold themselves against what should be their turnaround times.  A recent audit determined they were inadequately staffed. The President’s office provided special dispensation for the unit to hire an additional person and they plan to add two more soon. A customer satisfaction survey will also go out soon to users for Research Compliance and Biosafety. Recently a Texas A&M University Research Compliance Committee was formed and charged to enhance communications and services of individuals with research compliance roles to stakeholders in the research community. Dr. Mary Bryk, incoming CPI Chair is the Council representative on this committee.

A few months ago, the A&M System had proposed changes to two draft System regulations (Biohazards and Use of Animals in Research). The CPI Executive Committee provided feedback on the draft regulations and it was reported at the August 6th EC meeting that the A&M System changed the final language in the draft regulations based on the feedback and proposed edits from the CPI Executive Committee.

Updates from Sponsored Research Services (SRS)
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Proposal Budgeting Updates: Texas A&M University has provided updated tuition and fees rates for employing graduate students on sponsored research projects.  Read more about tuition and fees and how they vary by college at srs.tamus.edu/updates/#budgeting

SRS has received the FY2015 information for budgeting for fringe benefits from The Texas A&M University System Office of Budgets and Accounting.  This information can be found at http://www.tamus.edu/assets/files/budgets-acct/pdf/Fringe-benefit-FY2015.pdf or on the SRS website https://srs.tamus.edu/contracts-and-grants/proposal-preparation-and-submission/

Contact:

Dr. Jim Joyce, Customer Service Liaison – jrjoyce@tamus.edu, 979-458-5852
Ms. Stacey Rugh, Communications Manager – srugh@tamus.edu, 979-458-8760

Texas A&M Government Relations Update
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The Texas A&M University Office of Government Relations sent out a “Texas A&M Government Relations Update” on July 29, 2014 (see online at goo.gl/b4T4S9).

Contact:

Mr. Mike O’Quinn – irishmike@tamu.edu, 979.847.2217
Dr. Diane Hurtado – d-hurtado@tamu.edu, 979.847.2217

“The First Step Is a Nomination” - Essay from the Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study
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Have you ever dreamed of having months to work on research with a world-renowned expert in your field?  The Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study (TIAS) is seeking nominations for its next class of Faculty Fellows.  Those approved for recruiting will be invited to College Station for up to twelve months specifically to concentrate on research and to collaborate and network with the A&M faculty and students working in related areas.  These outstanding visiting scholars do not teach formal classes to better concentrate on collaborations on frontier research. Faculty Fellows in the past have presented opportunities to A&M faculty and students to conduct joint research and co-author publications, and to co-author major funding proposals for joint research.

The first step in the process is a nomination.  CPI members know who the outstanding people are in their respective fields who are not already at Texas A&M.  The CPI group is unique in its potential benefit from the visiting Faculty Fellows, as research is their game, and they are darn good at it.

Nominations, Confidentiality, and the Selection Process

Not long after the fall semester begins, the Institute for Advanced Study will call for nominations for the fourth class of Faculty Fellows.

•   Anyone can nominate a person for consideration as a Faculty Fellow, but for the institute to receive that nomination officially the nomination must come from a University Distinguished Professor with approval by the Dean or it must come through the Dean. The Dean’s approval is important because the Dean must commit to supplying the promised monetary support and other provisions required of the college in the nomination process.  The Institute for Advanced Study pays 70% of the salary and provides at a minimum $30,000 for a graduate student fellowship.  The host college pays 30% of the salary, provides a housing allowance and maybe discretionary funds, as well as provides office space and equipment.

•   It is crucially important to remember that nominees are not to be told in any way that they are being nominated.  We do not want anyone to feel that Texas A&M has rejected them. All who have been nominated, including the ones who are not approved for recruiting, have been accomplished scholars and researchers.   The standards are very high to be invited to be one of the Institute’s Faculty Fellows.  Some very accomplished researchers are not yet of the stature to be approved.

•   Once a nominees’ work is studied by the Advisory Committee – which is comprised of nine elected University Distinguished Professors – then the Committee votes as to whether that nominee has met the institute’s high standards and, if so, where the person falls in the ranking.  The highest ranking people are the first recruited. If they accept, and if planned budgets are thereby exhausted on the very top ranked people, then other nominees approved for recruiting may “roll over” to next year for consideration for recruitment at that time.

•   History has shown that not all who are recruited find it convenient to accept the offer to come to Texas A&M.  The lack of money for the early classes has not been the institute’s problem thus far.  The numbers of stellar nominations during the first call have been good, but not sufficient.  During the 2013-2014 school year, the Institute for Advanced Study had to make three calls for nominations to obtain enough quality scholars to recruit.  Only two colleges, engineering and science, have consistently submitted a full slate of nominees.

When the call for nominations goes out in the fall, the CPI will be immediately alerted.   It is to your benefit and the benefit of this university for you to nominate the best person in your field. Think of national academy membership or convincing comparable stature as a minimum criterion for the nominee.  Focus on nominees who are great mentors and with whom collaboration would have the most positive impact for you and your students.  As I have indicated in prior articles, many TIAS Faculty Fellows are members of multiple national academies or hold outstanding awards of recognition, such as the Nobel Prize or the National Medal of Science.  We want you to help us by presenting us with world class nominees to bring to Texas A&M, with whom you can conduct research and establish a research relationship for long after they leave College Station.

Contact:

Dr. John L. Junkins, Director, TIAS – junkins@tamu.edu, 979.845.3912
Dr. Clifford Fry, Associate Director, TIAS - cfry@tamu.edu or 979.458.5723

2015 Schedule for Grant Writing Seminars and Workshops (GWSW)
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For a second year, the Division of Research at Texas A&M University will offer Write Winning NIH Grant Proposals, a two-phase professional research development opportunity for tenured and tenure-track faculty. Coordinated through the Division’s Research Development Services, this program features consultant John D. Robertson of Grant Writers’ Seminars and Workshops, LLC (GWSW), and was very well received by Texas A&M participants this past year. Faculty interested in writing or resubmitting proposals to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are invited to attend. Dates for program will be announced later this summer. For additional information, contact Dr. Jim Izat (jizat@tamu.edu) or Dr. John Ivy (johnivy@tamu.edu) in Research Development Services (RDS). The 2014-15 full RDS workshop calendar is available here.

AAAS Science & Technology (S&T) Policy Fellowships
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The AAAS Science & Technology (S&T) Policy Fellowships are opportunities for professional development and public service. They are operated by AAAS as part of its mandate to advance science and serve society. The aim is to foster scientifically informed, evidence-based policy and practice by involving scientists and engineers from a broad range of disciplines, backgrounds and career stages, and to build leadership for a strong S&T enterprise that benefits all people. Fellows engage their knowledge and analytical skills while learning first-hand about policymaking and implementation at the federal level.

On-line applications for the AAAS S&T Policy Fellowships will be open until November 1st. Interested applicants should first set up an AAAS user account (see goo.gl/l7iyXP) and then access the application information here.

For additional questions or assistance, contact Mr. Jason Whisenant at Research Development Services in the Division of Research – jwhisenant@tamu.edu, 979.458.1861.

Pending reports from CPI representatives serving on external committees (CPI representative)
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Please note, pending reports may be due to committees not having met since the last newsletter update.

  • Advisory Committee to Texas A&M Leadership Steering Committee (Niall Slowey) – new committee
  • Council for the Built Environment (Paul Hardin)
  • Council for the Strategic Budgeting and Strategic Reallocation Sub-Council (Mary Bryk)
  • Email Selection Advisory Committee (Terry Thomas)
  • EPIK-Maestro Working Group (Beverly Kuhn, Terry Thomas, Victor Ugaz)
  • Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP (Wolfgang Bangerth, Terry Thomas)
  • Graduate Student Copyright/IP Policies Review Task Force (Jean Luc-Guermond, Sandy Tucker)
  • Intellectual Property Constituent Committee (Wolfgang Bangerth)
  • Laboratory Safety Advisory Committee (Susanne Talcott)
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers Administrative Review Advisory Committee (Lawrence Rauchwerger, Eva Shipp, Heather Wilkinson)
  • SRS PI/Faculty Advisory Committee (Terry Thomas, Niall Slowey)
  • Texas A&M University Research Administration Committee (Terry Thomas)
  • Texas A&M University Research Compliance Committee (Mary Bryk) – new committee
  • Texas A&M University Multidisciplinary Accounting Committee (Steve DiMarco)
  • Transportation Services Advisory Committee (Margaret Hobson) – new member serving
  • University Research Council (Craig Kaplan) – new member serving

See the full list of CPI members serving on external committees and committee descriptions at goo.gl/rP41nF.

Limited Submission Funding Opportunity for Texas A&M Faculty and PIs
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The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) recently announced a Limited Submission Opportunity for “Core Facilities Support Awards”. The opportunity is open to all Texas A&M University faculty and PIs who meet the eligibility requirements. Deadline for an email of intent is September 10, 2014 (send to limitedsubmissions@tamu.edu). Additional information can be found at http://cpi.tamu.edu/resources/cprit_8.14.

Contact:
Ms. Shelly Martin – shelly.martin@tamu.edu, 979.862.2233