September 2014 CPI News and Updates

Included in this issue: 

 

  • Welcome and update from Dr. Mary Bryk, 2014 CPI Chair
  • Summary of CPI EC meetings with administration
  • PI assistance with Texas A&M Comprehensive Campaign
  • Faculty Appointment Conversion
  • Updates from Texas A&M System Sponsored Research Services (SRS)
  • Update from Principal Investigator/Faculty Advisory Committee (PIFAC)
  • Transportation Services Advisory Committee
  • Update from the Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study (TIAS)
  • Important OGAPS Dates and Deadlines Calendar Update: Research Proposal Submission Deadline
  • Pending reports from CPI members serving on external committees
  • Upcoming Seminars and Workshops for Texas A&M Researchers
  • Limited Submission Opportunity for Texas A&M Faculty and PIs
  • Memorial Service for Dr. Marcel Amstalden

 

Update from Dr. Mary Bryk, 2014 CPI Chair

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The PI community was recently solicited to participate in the 2014 PI interest survey. The results of this survey inform the CPI Officers (Chair, Vice Chair and Past Chair), the Executive Committee and the full Council of those priority issues most important to the PI community we’ve been elected to represent.

What does the CPI do with the survey results? On September 10th, the elected CPI membership will meet in executive session without guest members in attendance. We’ll review the survey results and strategize how to address those priority issues identified by the PI community.  The survey results and the executive summary will be distributed to the PI community and the administration after the September 10th closed session CPI meeting.

Some of our constituents have told us through the survey that they don’t perceive the CPI has any real influence on issues. If you were to ask any previous CPI Chair or Executive Committee member over the last several years, they would tell you the CPI has definitely influenced the outcome of issues affecting the PI community every year. Many issues are resolved in closed session meetings with high level administrators with either the CPI Officers or Executive Committee, but we haven’t always reported the details of these engagements since they were resolved or may not have been appropriate to report on at the time.

In the future, when at all possible, we will better communicate details of our discussions with administrators and ways the CPI is having an impact. In the interim, if you have any issues the Council should be aware of, you can send an email to cpi@tamu.edu or call or email me at bryk@tamu.edu or 979.845.8478.

The next regularly scheduled CPI meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 from 11:30-1:15 p.m. in Rudder 601. Meetings are webcast live at ttvn.tamu.edu/webcasts on Channel 20, and videos are stored on the “Archives” section of the CPI website.

Faculty Appointment Conversion

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During a recent CPI Executive Committee meeting, we were made aware of a new “Faculty Appointment Conversion” policy that has already been implemented in TEES (see details at http://engineering.tamu.edu/faq) and it is our understanding will be implemented through the rest of the university soon.  According to the website, these changes are being made because of an annual financial liability due to faculty accrual of vacation leave.

The CPI Executive Committee plans to address this issue at the September 10th meeting with Dr. Hussey and Dr. Watson and will report back to the PI community any additional details as they become available. If you have questions or concerns the aforementioned FAQ page does not address, please click here to email us.

Summary of CPI EC meetings with administration

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The CPI EC held its monthly coordination meeting with invited research administration representatives from AgriLife, HSC, Texas A&M, TEES and TTI on September 3, 2014 (see agenda here).  Attendees discussed the process of preparing split budgets at SRS during the pre-award stage. It is our understanding that SRS has been splitting the budgets at the pre-award stage for TEES and other System members, but not the university. Texas A&M recently required that SRS also split university budgets at the pre-award stage.

Also discussed was the participation rate of researchers for the PI survey, the format for the September 10th closed session meeting; agenda items for the September 10th EC meeting with the President and Provost and the September 23rd EC meeting with Chancellor Sharp.

PI assistance with Texas A&M Comprehensive Campaign

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Mr. Mark Klemm from the Texas A&M Foundation announced that in October 2015, Texas A&M will announce its largest Comprehensive Campaign to date.  In order to provide prospective donors with opportunities to partner with A&M to solve difficult problems, a “menu” of funding opportunities needs to be created.  He noted that it will be crucial for the academic community to identify those opportunities.  The initial “menu” will be compiled January 1, 2015 and he asked for the PI community’s help by working with the Development Officer in their respective college (click here for the list) to identify those ideas most appealing for philanthropic support.  Mr. Klemm noted that there are far more prospective donors than there are currently ideas to suggest and he thanked the PI community in advance for their assistance.

Updates from Sponsored Research Services (SRS)

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Travel – 90 Day Reimbursement Policy: The Texas A&M University System has announced a September 1, 2014 start date for the implementation of a safe harbor rule of 90 days for the taxation of employee reimbursements (travel, purchase, business meals, etc.) that exceed a 90 day submission.  Read more about this policy change regarding SRS Travel Procedures at https://srs.tamus.edu/updates/#tax

Customer Service Liaison: Dr. Jim Joyce is available to attend your departmental or staff meetings to address customer service questions or concerns regarding SRS.  Please contact him or Stacey Rugh to schedule.

Contact:

Dr. Jim Joyce, Customer Service Liaison – jrjoyce@tamus.edu, 979.458.5852

Ms. Stacey Rugh, Communications Manager – srugh@tamus.edu, 979.458.8760

Update from SRS PI/Faculty Advisory Committee (PIFAC)

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The PIFAC (see members here) represents the interests and concerns of the research community by providing direct input to the Texas A&M System Sponsored Research Services (SRS) leadership and system member CEOs on matters affecting SRS operations. The following are several items considered during March and June PIFAC meetings: (1) A project/post award module and other improvements to Maestro, as well as the implementation of ways for the Maestro team to receive feedback from investigators. (2) Ways to improve SRS responsiveness, for example: 4 project administrators were hired, and Jim Joyce of SRS will now work directly with investigators to address issues of concern. (3) Ways to reduce account set-up time; once all required documents are received by SRS, new accounts will be set-up in within 10 business days. (4) Sponsors are becoming stricter about deadlines for submitting financial reports when projects end, so SRS now requires that all expenses be entered into the payment process 45 days prior to a projects final reporting deadline. (5) In response to an external account audit, SRS is proposing that charges to research accounts that now may be verified by departments or other entities, but not SRS, or that are simply not verified, will be verified for SRS by investigators via Maestro. PIFAC asked SRS to work with university administrators to minimize burdens placed on investigators by requiring replicate verifications. (6) PIFAC Chair, Terry Thomas, is attending Federal Demonstration Partnership meetings related to the OMB’s new Uniform Guidance that becomes effective at the end of 2014 (see https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/12/26/2013-30465/uniform-administrative-requirements-cost-principles-and-audit-requirements-for-federal-awards).

Contact:

Dr. Niall Slowey – slowey@ocean.tamu.edu or 979.845.8478

Transportation Services Advisory Committee

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The Transportation Services Advisory Committee met on Wednesday, September 3. The primary discussion was about bus issues, especially in light of the rapidly increasing student population.

Several factors are complicating the bus service.  First, when the student fee structure changed a few years ago, the amount Transportation Services receives is no longer tied to the student enrollment.  Previously, they received $70 per student per semester.  Now they receive a flat rate regardless of the number of students enrolled.  The amount as of last year was approximately $65 per student per semester.  The result is that while expenses (cost of fuel, etc.) are increasing, the amount per student is decreasing. Second, the bus fleet is aging.  46 of the 80 buses are 13 to 14 years old, with 11 years being the average life of a bus like Texas A&M uses.

The increase in students and the spread of student-oriented apartment complexes is driving up demand, and bus crowding is up 10% from last year with more students being left at bus stops due to already full buses.  On some routes at certain times of the day, students have to wait for as many as 3 buses to find one with room.

Additionally, at the current rate of growth, it is possible that we could run out of parking spaces in 3 to 5 years.  If this happens, freshmen will be put on wait lists for parking permits—which will in turn increase demand for buses.  Transportation Services is exploring many options in addition to requests for increase in funding from student fees to meet these needs.

Contact:

Dr. Margaret Hobson – m-hobson@tamu.edu or 979.458.9285

“Cream of the Crop” - Essay from the Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study

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“Cream of the Crop” is the name of an article about the Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study that appears in the September/October 2014 edition of the Texas Aggie, the magazine of the Aggie Network, or the Association of Former Students.   This article highlights the enormous impact the Institute is making on Texas A&M.

The Institute is bringing to Texas A&M some of the world’s most outstanding productive scholars,  the “Cream of the Crop” , to engage in research and collaborate with rising star A&M faculty and graduate students during extensive in-residence visits. These scholars are making transformative advances in improving the programs and reputations of multiple colleges.  Collaborations extend beyond in-residence time, and some visitors have extended their visiting months over multiple years, explicitly encouraging long term collaboration.

The Institute is beginning its third year, and the 2014-2015 group of visiting eminent scholars will be announced in mid-September.  In the first two years the Institute and the host colleges have brought in two Nobel Prize winners, a Wolf Prize winner, a recipient of the National Medal of Science, an awardee of the Hubbell Medal in Literature for Lifetime Achievement, and others with national academy stature.

The Institute is not designed as a recruiting tool, yet it inherently provides extended periods for all parties to evaluate the opportunities and desirability of a permanent appointment.  Two of the scholars in the first 15 to arrive on campus have made Texas A&M their permanent home, and they have already attracted additional academy level talent to A&M’s permanent faculty.   The $100 million Chancellor’s Research Initiative fund helps provide the resources to attract these scholars.

Nominations for the 2015-2016 visiting group of world-class scholars will be called for in late September.  Nominations require a brief one page summary about qualifications and a one page statement about why an appointment as an Institute Faculty Fellow would be beneficial.  The Institute Advisory Committee fully evaluates all nominations to select those for recruitment.

The two page nomination form can be obtained from the Institute’s website or by writing to Clifford Fry at cfry@tamu.edu.   Nominations can be initiated by any faculty member, but must come to the Institute through a University Distinguished Professor (with approval by the Dean of the nominating college) or nominations can be submitted by the Dean of the nominating college.

John Junkins, the founding Director of the Institute for Advanced Study remarks in the “Cream of the Crop” article,

Because it is driven by faculty initiative”, he said, “strong programs will get better, but especially the Institute provides an attractive vehicle for programs that are not so strong, because it gives them hope and a great opportunity to improve their program.”

The Institute’s purpose is to enhance the excellence of your research, your research exposure, your research productivity, your departmental and college international stature.  Take this opportunity to nominate the finest person in your profession with whom you wish to collaborate that is not already at Texas A&M.  We are attracting about 50% of these stellar scholars; the opportunity is there for you to advance your department, college and your personal scholarship. Carpe diem.

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

Important OGAPS Dates and Deadlines Calendar Update: Research Proposal Submission Deadline

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To provide sufficient time for OGAPS and Research Compliance and Biosafety (RCB) to review graduate student research proposals, the Proposal Approval Form, along with the entire research proposal, should arrive to OGAPS no less than 20 (previously 15) working days prior to submitting the Request and Announcement of the Final Exam. This change may impact students who submit the proposal in close proximity to the request for final exam. Updated OGAPS calendars are available from: http://ogs.tamu.edu/current-students/dates-and-deadlines/. As a reminder, all students are encouraged to participate in responsible conduct of research training, or equivalent training within their departments, to be knowledgeable of University guidelines, practices, and requirements to engage in research.

Contact:

Dr. Laura Hammons – lhammons@tamu.edu, 979.845.2225

Pending reports from CPI representatives serving on external committees (CPI representative)

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See the full list of CPI members serving on external committees and committee descriptions at goo.gl/rP41nF. 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 (Emil Straube, Penny Riggs - new member)
  • Council for the Strategic Budgeting and Strategic Reallocation Sub-Council (Mary Bryk)
  • Email Selection Advisory Committee (Terry Thomas)
  • EPIK-Maestro Working Group (Terry Thomas, Victor Ugaz)
  • Intellectual Property Constituent Committee (Wolfgang Bangerth)
  • Laboratory Safety Advisory Committee (Susanne Talcott)
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers Administrative Review Advisory Committee (Lawrence Rauchwerger, Eva Shipp, Heather Wilkinson)
  • Texas A&M University Research Administration Committee (Terry Thomas)
  • Texas A&M University Multidisciplinary Accounting Committee (Steve DiMarco)

Upcoming Seminars and Workshops for Texas A&M Researchers

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At the beginning of each school year, much of our efforts are expended on getting a successful start in our teaching responsibilities. Now that the first few days of the new academic year have passed, we want to let you know of several research-related professional development events the Division of Research (DOR) is hosting for the Texas A&M University research community.

The first event is the seminar, Write Winning NIH Grant Proposals, on September 16. This seminar will be presented by Dr. John D. Robertson, a consultant from Grant Writers’ Seminars and Workshops, LLC (GWSW). This is the second year in a row the popular seminar will be presented by the DOR. If your office is not located in College Station, you may attend via TTVN, but registration is still required. The registration deadline for this seminar is Tuesday, September 9.

Attendance at this seminar (or the one offered in February 2014) is a requirement for admission to the 2015 NIH Grant Proposal-Writing Program, which connects a small group of principal investigators with the GWSW consultant, Dr. Robertson, who will work one-on-one with them over a six-month period to develop a submission-ready proposal for the NIH. The deadline to apply for the proposal-writing program is Tuesday, September 30.

If funding for your research is focused on the National Science Foundation or similar foundations, institutions, etc., you may be interested in the seminar, Funding Opportunities at the National Science Foundation (NSF), presented on September 29, from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Dr. Andreea Trache, an associate professor in the Department of Medical Physiology at Texas A&M and Program Director in the NSF Division of Molecular & Cellular Biosciences, will talk about locating appropriate NSF funding sources, suggestions for writing successful NSF proposals, the NSF proposal review process, and strategies for communicating effectively with NSF program managers. Registration deadline is Friday, September 26, at 12:00 noon. Click here to register.

Dr. Trache will speak on another topic, The Benefits of Serving as an IPA at the NSF, the afternoon of September 29. She will discuss a mechanism through which Texas A&M University faculty can accept a temporary assignment at the NSF or other federal agencies. Registration deadline for this seminar is also Friday, September 26, at 12:00 noon. Click here to register.

Other seminars and workshops this year will cover topics such as Broader Impacts at NSF, Writing Successful Proposals, or applying to one or more of the DOR internal grants programs, such as PESCA or the International program.  All of these events are coordinated by Research Development Services (RDS), a DOR unit providing a wide range of support to Texas A&M researchers, of which I am executive director. Information on these and other seminars and workshops can be found via the RDS Professional Research Development Calendar at vpr.tamu.edu/researchdevelopment/PRDP/calendar.

I hope you will take a few moments to explore these events and other services offered by RDS and the Division of Research. Our goal is to help you succeed in your research endeavors, and we welcome the opportunity to find ways to do so.

Contact:

Dr. Jorja Kimball – jkimball@tamu.edu, 979.458.5794

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 cpi.tamu.edu/resources/cprit_8.14.

Contact:

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

Memorial Service for Dr. Marcel Amstalden

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With great sadness we inform you that one of our TAMU colleagues, Dr. Marcel Amstalden, an associate professor in physiology of reproduction in the Department of Animal Science and Chair of the Interdisciplinary Faculty of Reproductive Biology died on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014 from injuries sustained during a car accident that occurred while he was traveling near Hallettsville, Texas.  Dr. Amstalden is survived by his wife, Katia, and their two daughters.

Visitation will be held at the Memorial Funeral Chapel, 1515 S. College Ave. in Bryan on Wednesday, Sept. 10th from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. with a memorial service at 1:00 p.m. (see here for more details)