2016 NORDP Conference Featured Keynote Speaker: Carl Herndl, University of South Florida

An update from Jennifer Lyon, UT Austin

Many of us working in research development are responsible for envisioning, coordinating or supporting interdisciplinary teams, either within our own organization or spanning multiple organizations and sectors. This also means that we are acutely aware of the challenges inherent to fostering genuine interdisciplinarity. Our first confirmed 2016 NORDP Conference keynote speaker,  Carl Herndl, Ph.D from the University of South Florida, will join us in Orlando this May to present “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Interdisciplinarity.” He will share suggestions and cautionary tales in promoting interdisciplinarity. His keynote address will draw upon more than 20 years of experience in fostering interdisciplinarity among researchers and university faculty. He will argue that interdisciplinary teams are absolutely essential for the advancement of knowledge, talk about the intellectual and institutional challenges to promoting interdisciplinarity, and offer concrete suggestions for encouraging this kind of work. Herndl holds joint appointments in the Department of English and the new Patel College of Global Sustainability at the University of South Florida. Most recently, he served as Associate Dean for the new Patel College, in which he crafted promotion and tenure protocols for the new interdisciplinary college.
Follow @NORDP_officialon Twitter to stay in the know as we confirm additional 2016 Conference speakers!

What do you get out of NORDP?

A message from Member Services Co-Chair Terri Soelberg

There are many interesting things going in the Member Services Committee. We are charged with welcoming new members, helping to identify areas of programming/services that are of interest to the membership, and helping to recruit new members.

Currently, we are working on developing a set of recruiting tools and strategies that will help current members share information with others about this great organization. To that end, we would like to hear from members what you feel is most valuable about your NORDP membership. I hope you will take a couple of minutes to leave comments below. Shy about public posts? Feel free to reach out to me directly, terrisoelberg@boisestate.edu

If you have other thoughts about what you would like to see in the way of programming or member benefits, I would love to hear about it. Lastly, if would you like the opportunity to become more involved with the great work our committees do, let me know. All of our committees are open to increasing their volunteers.

Best,

Terri

Leadership development in research development: It’s based on data

By Alicia Knoedler

Our last NORDP Blog entry featured the newest members of the NORDP Board of Directors. Within that entry, it was mentioned that Board members will be providing regular updates to the NORDP membership. Each Board member has the opportunity to feature some ideas, give updates on committee work, and encourage NORDP members to become involved in the great work of this organization.

NORDP provides a tremendous network of colleagues and a wealth of opportunities to develop professionally. In a later blog entry, I will be sharing some ideas regarding leadership development within the context of research development. But before I get there, I would like to ask you to think about a few topics – think about them in the context of your own position at your institution or organization, the environment at your institution or organization, and your career goals and aspirations.

I am going to start with my favorite topic – DATA! At the recent Board retreat, a few of our discussions were aided by past and current data, and we all agree on the importance of accurate data when it comes to the NORDP membership, the exchange of frequent and current information – for example from Liaison and Committee reports, and the possibility that data might open our eyes to new ideas, trends, and needs.

The Membership Metrics Subcommittee, for example, recently completed the 2015 NORDP Salary Survey (you need to be a NORDP member to be able to see this page). These are great data to have, and beyond the figures provided in the report, the Subcommittee produced a great summary of findings that could be very helpful to the membership.

Keeping track of membership information is an important task within the Membership Services Committee and they rely on accurate information collected with you sign up to become a member or renew your membership. As we near the end of September, 2015, we have just over 600 members. We average about 15 new memberships per month and approximately 40 members renew each month. We now have NORDP Regional Representatives across various regions who are organizing discussions, listservs, and meetings. These representatives rely on accurate membership data to determine who is in their region. When the regions became more well-defined, we modified the classification of “Regions” in the membership profile system. Currently, 64% of the NORDP membership has accurate Regional classifications as part of their profiles. We would really appreciate your help in updating this information as well as other information in your profiles, such as your Institution/Organization Type, Institutional Consortia Membership (if you don’t know, ask around), and your Annual Sponsored Research Awards. All of these categories are important for various analyses and in helping us to determine target groups and programming needs. Please take a moment to log in to the Member Center (go to Member Center and then select “My Profile”) and make sure your profile is up to date.

At the retreat, the NORDP Board also discussed positions for the Board that will be open for the next election. We will have a forthcoming update on that topic soon.  We use the membership profile data to consider encouraging individuals from various regions, or institution sizes, or other demographic and institutional/organizational characteristics to consider running for election sot that the NORDP Board is representative of its membership and benefits from diverse perspectives and experiences.

I would like to end this update with a few questions that relate to my next blog update – Your institution/organization may have just one NORDP member or as many as 15 (University of Tennessee, Knoxville!) members. Would others at your institution/organization be interested in professional development offerings provided through NORDP? How many more? Could this include faculty? Associate Deans for Research? Department chairs/heads? Others? Fell free to add comments in answer to these questions but stay tuned for a future blog on the topic of reaching a broad audience through professional development.

NORDP 2015 Conference Report: Strategies to Support Multi-Institutional, Cross-Conference Research Collaborations

by Marilyn Korhonen, Ed.D.
Associate Director Center for Research Program Development and Enrichment
Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Oklahoma

Panelists: Martha Cooper and Nathan Meier

The Traumatic Brain Injury Project is a great example of being ready to seize an opportunity, and it serves as a lesson to watch for such opportunities and be flexible enough to respond. One important aspect of the project is the timeliness and critical need to address concerns about the impact of more than 3 million brain injuries that occur each year, many of which are associated with college athletics programs.

A second critical factor is the presence of an established organizing structure. In particular, the Big Ten Athletic Conference and the Ivy League came together to improve traumatic brain injury prevention, detection, and treatment strategies. While this project aligns with athletic conferences, it is enabled by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), which is a consortium of the Big Ten member universities plus the University of Chicago. The CIC has been in place for more than 50 years, enabling the member institutions to advance their academic missions by sharing expertise, leveraging campus resources, and collaborating on innovative programs.

A third factor is the ability to govern, fund, and staff the project quickly and equitably. CIC is governed and funded by the Provosts of the member universities, and coordinated by a staff from its Champaign, Illinois headquarters. Thus the project had a natural, established home. This governing body allowed for focused goals and focused approaches implemented in coordinated ways.

Most of these factors exist primarily outside of research development. So a fourth important factor is to make a case for research and scholarship, and to leverage the resources established for the program. In this case, having a larger sample size of athletes with potential traumatic brain injuries enabled use of evidence-based, clinical protocols. These protocols may lead to collaboration with the Department of Defense, allowing for comparison of TBI based on a greater number of factors.

Finally, the University of Nebraska was in a position to provide leadership as well as physical resources to create a Center for Brain Biology and Behavior, which is attached to their Athletics Performance Lab (all within the football stadium). This strengthens their research program and provides even greater resources to the overall TBI Project. This project has already resulted in 22 research collaboration efforts and 12 distinct sources of funding.

Some of the challenges include:

  1. Increased competition for limited federal funds
  2. Balancing tensions between collaboration and competition
  3. Lack of equity in the institutional contributions of seed funding and other support toward the project.

Ultimately, the presenters expect that a strong focus on common goals will be the key to the success of their project.

NORDP 2015 Conference Report: Building an NIH Portfolio Without a Local Medical School

By Karen Markin, PhD, Director of Research Development, University of Rhode Island
To build a portfolio of grants from the National Institutes of Health at an institution without a medical school, it is essential to understand the agency’s mission, according to Janet E. Nelson, associate vice chancellor for research development at the University of Tennessee. That mission is to seek knowledge that enhances health, lengthens life and reduces illness and disability.

Nelson was one of three panelists who discussed strategic planning for successful grant-seeking from NIH in an increasingly competitive environment. The panel was part of NORDP’s annual Research Development Conference in Bethesda, MD.

Award rates at NIH are falling, noted Jennifer L. Webster, manager of strategic research initiatives at the University of Tennessee. However, it is still making grants focused on certain initiatives, including precision medicine, antibiotic resistance, cancer, brain research, Alzheimer’s disease and new vaccines.

Institutions without medical schools can compete by focusing on their strengths relative to other institutions. Panelists urged participants to think about the unique strengths of their institutions. For example, panelists Meredith Murr said the University of California at Santa Barbara has a top engineering department with talents it can leverage into NIH awards. The institution also hires strategically, focusing on medical researchers, and buildings collaborations outside the university.

Other tips from the panelists:

  • Invite an NIH program officer to speak at your campus.
  • Organize quarterly networking events and involve off-campus groups
  • Conduct red-team reviews on grant proposals.
  • Offer proposal development workshops.

NORDP 2015 Conference Report: Preparing Competitive STEM Education Development Proposals: Planning for Sustained Adoption

By Vanity Campbell
Proposal development and project management of large STEM education proposals often lack design elements to ensure sustained adoption of successful programs. The presenters shared 6 key best practices to increase the impact and systemic change anticipated of such proposals. In the past, funding agencies have encouraged a solitary cyclic model for STEM education improvement based on research, evaluation, and implementation of innovative methods.  This system relied on isolated, individualized development of new methods by researchers with limited outside feedback and involvement.  The dissemination of program outcomes was often passive utilizing conferences, websites, and publication to share program results.  As a result, proposed solutions were unique to specific institutions and lacked transferability and scalability.

New federal agency trends are emerging in STEM education development to address limited adoption and portability and broaden dissemination. To identify best practices, the presenters researched successful practices by analyzing 75 NSF CCLI grant proposals funded in 2009, case studies of well-propagated innovations (PhET, PLTL, Peer Instruction), and a review of recent related literature.  The results showed that effective propagation requires 6 key elements:

  • identification of potential adopters,
  • extensive plan for attracting, training, and supporting adopters,
  • addresses propagation early while the program is ongoing,
  • relevant instructional system elements identified,
  • provides a clearly identified plan, with rationale and strategy defined,
  • innovation, potential adopters, and selected strategies are aligned

As a hands-on activity, the presenters led workshop participants through an evaluation of a proposed STEM education proposal using an assessment instrument focusing on project type, target curricula, propagation activities, and plans.  Participants reviewed and assessed two different proposal project summaries, and compared evaluation ratings and comments.  From this exercise, participants learned that successful propagation has an intended audience, engages users, propagation plans are initiated at onset, the plan consists of an instructional system, clear and thorough plan and strategy.

Successful propagators identify potential adopters, interact with them, and support them. To achieve this, proposal planning requires interactive development, interactive dissemination, and support at three levels: individual, department, and institution.  Interactive development will include partner institutions, advisory boards and beta testing.  In comparison, isolated development involves primarily institutional stakeholders.  An interactive dissemination plan will consists of immersive workshops, leverage professional societies, pilot sites, and foster scholarship in other faculty.  Where as static dissemination should be avoided, such as dissemination of results via articles and webistes.  Lastly, adequate support will assist adopters by use of networks, customizable materials, and consultation.  This ensures successful adoption in contrast to adopters implementing new methods in isolation with no support for addressing challenges.

Implementing strong propagation plans can strengthen STEM education proposals and ensure sustained adoption and successful impact of active programs.

For contacts and additional information, see www.increasetheimpact.com.

NORDP 2015 Conference Report: Innovations in Research

By Lucy Deckard
Presenters: This session was presented by Margaret Hilton (National Research Council), James Gentile (Hope College) and Kara Hall (National Cancer Institute and member of National Research Council ) Margaret Hilton gave an overview:  This session discussed a series of reports related to Innovations in Scientific Research (specifically, interdisciplinary and team science), the latest of which came out in late April, 2015.

  • “Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research” (2005)
  • “Convergence: Facilitating Transdisciplinary Integration of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering and Beyond” National Research Council (2014)
  • “Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science” National Research Council (2015)

The first report defined “interdisciplinary” vs. “transdisciplinary” (transcends disciplinary boundaries). In theory, an individual can conduct these kinds of research by him/herself, but in reality that rarely happens. This is where you get to the realm of Team Science – science conducted interdependently by more than one person.

These reports came up with some common recommendations for changes needed to promote and accommodate these new ways of doing scientific research:

  • Revise promotion and tenure policies
  • Expand funding mechanisms and review criteria
  • Conduct research/evaluation to understand and guide improved interdisciplinarity and convergence in science

James Gentile spoke about ”convergence”:

Scientific research is becoming more problem-centered. Mother Nature is winning, and she has no departmental structural constraints. In order to solve complex questions in science we need true innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration. In addition, tools in science are exploding, bringing disciplines together.

The grand challenges that we want to converge about include:

  • Green energy
  • Chemistry and physics of living systems
  • Synthetic capacity of live
  • -omics to uncover new approaches to disease
  • Others were also listed.

The Research Corp, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and others: Science Coalition coming together and made a context map   Addressing these problems means we have to go through a web that includes law, policy, economics, as well as virology .

So in the future we will have to learn how to converge. For example, brain mapping requires a lot of different types of expertise. In interdisciplinary research, it’s usually altruistic. A researcher takes a sample to a colleague in chemistry and asks if she’ll run it on her machine. She does this as a favor. In contrast, when we converge, I get my question answered but that answer presents a new question for the colleague in chemistry. In this case, everyone is growing. They coined a new term: “Scialog,” from science and dialog.

The Research Corporation for Science Advancement brought together researchers to consider a national priority: energy from photosynthesis (in essence, can we build an artificial tree based on nanotechnology). They invited researchers to form teams, but before they pitched the science, the Research Corporation just wanted to hear the justification for the team composition. They ended up funding a group that created bio-inspired silicon photovoltaics. Convergence also works in education. He gave the example of having students design robotic “cockroaches”. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JysIA-4fcA4 and NRC, 2014.

Kara Hall talked in more detail about the recently released report, “Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science”:

The committee looked at factors that impacted effectiveness of science teams:

  • Individual factors
  • Factors at team/center/institute level (organizational factors)
  • Management approaches and leadership styles
  • How tenure and promotion are affected
  • etc.

The team included people with a broad range of backgrounds, including psychologists, biologists, social scientists, etc. They used several measures to evaluate effectiveness, including which research is cited more and which yielded more patents. They found that research done in teams is cited more, yields more patents, and demonstrates high levels of innovation.

They defined the following terms:

Team science – collaborative, interdependent research conducted by more than one individual

Science team – 2 – 10 individuals

Larger group – more than 10 (teams of teams)

Team effectiveness – a team’s capacity to perform

Key features that cause more challenges for team science are large membership diversity, the need to effect deep knowledge integration, (sometimes) large size, goal misalignment, permeable boundaries for teams (meaning members may move in and out as the research evolves), geographic dispersion, and high task interdependence. The concluded that there is already a strong body of research on team processes as they relate to  effectiveness, but most of that research was done on teams such as business teams (not science research teams), so we need to bring that literature into the context of science.

They identified three main areas where interventions could enhance effectiveness: team composition, team professional development, and team leadership. Kara summarized several recommendations based on current research in each of these areas.

Composing your team: Consider using task analytic methods to identify needed knowledge, skills and attitudes. These methods can be used to match task-related diversity among team or group members.  Also, consider moving outside your usual network – for example by leveraging networking tools.

Team Professional Development: Team professional development models prevalent in business could be applied to science. The committee recommended that we look at these models to see what’s out there and develop them so that they are relevant to science teams. When dealing with diverse teams and trying develop shared knowledge, it’s very important to devote time to developing a shared vocabulary. This may seem like it takes a lot of time, but in the end it will be worth it.

Leadership: The committee noted that there is already fifty years of research on teams and organizational leadership, so we should take advantage of this robust foundation and adapt it for leaders of science teams and larger groups.

The team also recommended that, in order to address the challenges of geographic dispersion, we conduct research on virtual collaboration and geographically dispersed science teams. They also recommended that dispersed teams consider task assignments within semi-independent units at each location to reduce the burden of constant electronic communication.

The team also concluded that while universities have launched new efforts to promote interdisciplinary team science (e.g., getting rid of departments), the impact of these initiatives on the amount and quality of team science has not be systematically evaluated. It may not be that the main hurdles are not actually disciplinary structures but may instead be factors such as promotion and tenure (P/T) criteria.

This points out the importance of aligning reward structures with encouraging team science. Many university P/T review policies are uncreative  and don’t give credit for team-based research. One model might be big physics, where research has long been done in very large teams. They allow researchers to get credit for pre-publications (e.g., software, databases, etc.), not just first-authored publications.

Funding agencies also need to play a role in encouraging a culture change in the scientific community. The report recommends that funders encourage development and implementation of new collaborative models (e.g., research networks, consortia). They also need to support the development of resources that support team science (e.g., info repositories, training modules, ensuring data is available for mining). We also need more targeted research about team science, but few funding programs support this research.

She also recommended that folks attend the SciTS (science of team science) 2015 conference in June 2 -5, 2015 in Bethesda, MD.

Questions and Answers:

Question: Are more diverse teams more difficult to manage?

  • Faculty are a non-pack-oriented group – leadership and administrative oversight can be difficult
  • Teams should start out small – then they can grow as they demonstrate success
  • In the team science report there was lots of discussion around diversity – we will see evolving culture shifts – more emphasis in education. A new Chief of Science Workforce Diversity at NIH was just named. As get used to more diversity, it will get easier.
  • There will be a meeting targeting provosts and deans by the National Academy highlighted their role in addressing some of these team science issues (e.g., authorship is an example  if diff disciplines have different authorship criteria)

Question:  Are there recommended strategies for forming teams?

  • When you have a team that has worked together and then bring in some new people, that often works best. If you’ve been working together too long, you can lose your innovative edge. Sometimes concatenating two teams also works.
  • When there’s too much competition among teams, it degrades the teams’ ability to work with one another, which may be needed in the future. One way to address this is to develop large networks and initiatives that include multiple centers to foster collaboration.
  • NIH is offering the opportunity to bring together scientists to think about a problem space – not a commitment. That way, teams can form and when there is an application, it’s more sophisticated
  • Another strategy is to form a team around teaching – if they can work together around teaching, a lot of research can come out of that, and it’s a way for the members to get used to working with one another (for example, developing innovative interdisciplinary non-major courses)

Question: Can core facilities help bring teams together?

  • You have to find a way to stimulate conversation. Some core facilities work better than others to stimulate interdisciplinary collaborations. The  core needs to understand that this is one of their roles.
  • Sometimes the core is competing with the people they are supposed to be supporting – they need to get rewarded for bringing people together.

The presenters thanked their sponsors: NSF and Elsevier