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The reports detailing all the proposals and awards for the first half of the fiscal year are now available on the Office of Research web site.

As part of the ongoing Faculty Development series, a panel of experts gave their perspective on writing successful grant proposals.  Dr. Havidán Rodríguez (Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs), Dr. Maria Reyes (Professor of Curriculum and Instruction), Dr. Teresa Feria (Assistant Professor of Biology and ADVANCE Administrative Faculty Fellow), and Dr. Steven C Tidrow (Associate Professor of Physics and Geology and Associate Dean for Research and Innovative Education for the College of Science and Mathematics) gave their ideas for writing strong and successful research grant proposals.  Conducted by the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs on February 6, 2014, and hosted by Dr. Sadiq Shah, Vice Provost for Research, the panel talked about their tried and true methods, and then opened the floor to questions.

Here is the entire fifty minute video.

 

2013 Annual Report

The Office of Research is very pleased to announce the  publication of the 2013 Annual Report.  It is available for download from the Office of Research main web site.

2013 Annual Report

2013 Annual Report

This is not a report about our office – this is a report about the research, scholarship, creative activities and community engagement efforts from across the campus.  It is more than a collection of graphs and numbers – it is about the people at UTPA who teach, enrich lives and make this university a vital part of the community.

Take a look and see how UTPA continues to grow in scholarship and research.

One of the integral parts of the Office of Research is the Office of Research Compliance, headed up by Glorimar Colón, JD.  The people in the office are charged with ensuring research integrity and compliance with federal, state and UTPA policies and procedures.

In other words, their job is to be sure the researchers of UTPA can carry out their work with a minimum of fuss and spend their time focusing on research.
To that end, the Office of Research Compliance conducts a number of workshops for faculty and support staff.  These workshops are short, to the point, and helpful.  Please take a look at the schedule and see which ones pertain to you – then let us know if you are coming.  You can RSVP either emailing Glorimar at gcolon@utpa.edu or going to www.utpa.edu/training.

Schedule

IRB Basics
Monday, February 3rd – 1pm to 2pm; REIN 1.102
Tuesday, February 4th – 10am to 11am; REIN 1.102
Thursday, March 27th – 10am to 11am; REIN 1.102

This training is intended to provide a basic introduction to the Human Subjects Protection policies and regulations and walk participants through the IRB electronic submission process.

Export Controls in Research
Monday, February 24th – 10am to 11am; REIN 1.102
Tuesday, February 25th – 10am to 11am; REIN 1.102

This training would cover export controls regulations and national security concerns applicable to research. The session will address export control issues and their applicability in the everyday life of the university environment.

Responsible Conduct of Research
Tuesday, March 18th – 10am to 11am; REIN 1.102
Wednesday, March 19th – 10am to 11am; REIN 1.102

This training is intended to offer an overview of the topics related to Responsible Conduct of Research, from Research Misconduct and Relevant Policies, to Acceptable Terms and Conditions in Collaborative Research.

Note: This training is not meant to replace the RCR training from CITI, but will count towards the face-to-face training hours requirement.

Time and Effort: Why is it a big deal?
Wednesday, April 2nd – 10am to 11am; REIN 1.102
Thursday, April 3rd – 10am to 11am; REIN 1.102
Tuesday, June 3rd – 10am to 11am; REIN 1.102

Effort reporting has been a common denominator in cases against universities under the False Claims Act.  Join us for a discussion to explain why effort reporting is a big deal.  The training will review a summary of the federal regulations/university policies and will provide attendees with common examples of mistakes in the reporting process.

Basic Introduction to Materials Transfer & Non-Disclosure Agreements
Monday, April 7th – 10am to 11am; REIN 1.102
Tuesday, April 8th – 10am to 11am; REIN 1.102

The number of Materials Transfer* and Non-Disclosure** Agreements that UTPA faculty and staff are involved in has been increasing steadily. With this in mind, this session has been introduced to help the University community learn a bit more about these agreements and the types of circumstances for which they are required.

*A Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA) is a contract that governs the transfer of tangible research materials between two organizations, when the recipient intends to use it for his or her own research purposes. It defines the rights of the provider and the recipient with respect to the materials and any derivatives.

**A Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) (also known as a Confidentiality Agreement) is a contract entered into by two or more parties in which some or all of the parties agree that certain types of information that pass from one party to the other or that are created by one of the parties will remain confidential. They protect sensitive technical or commercial information from disclosure to others, can prevent the forfeiture of valuable patent rights, and define exactly what information can and cannot be disclosed.

If you are interested in attending one of these sessions, please register at: www.utpa.edu/training or email gcolon@utpa.edu
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The Office of Research is once again sponsoring a series of informal talks by some of the many researchers on our campus.

The purpose of these lunch meetings is not so much to highlight one person’s work as it is to engage others in multidisciplinary collaborative research.  The hope is to build entire communities of researchers who share complementary goals of working within the following areas:

Health Disparities & Health Humanities

Biomedical Sciences

Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

New Materials

An additional seminar for all groups

Oftentimes, researchers in very different disciplines may unknowingly share a common area of synergy with other researchers. As an example, a biologist may not seem to have anything to contribute to the field of Health Disparities, yet his research into agricultural ecology may expand research being done in the Rio Grande Valley about nutrition.  There are many other examples of such cross-pollination.

These will be informal meetings, meant to encourage collegial discussion and generate new ideas for research.    We will keep you informed as to the date and time of the meetings within each community, both through emails and on our web site at Office of Research.

Here is a schedule of upcoming meetings for the spring semester.  All will meet in the conference room (1.102) of the Research and Innovation Building (except where noted) and all will begin at 12 noon and conclude at 1pm.  A light lunch of pizza and soft drinks will be provided.

This schedule is subject to change – in fact, we hope to add some more presentations.

We hope to see you there.

*    Thursday, February 6:   Health Disparities and Health Humanities
Dr.  Doreen Garza:  “Border Health Office:  Opportunities for Community-based Research Collaborations”

*    Friday, February 7:  GIS Group
Dr. K. Rod Summy:  “Current distribution of black mangrove (Avicennia germinas) in coastal areas bordering the Lower Laguna Madre of Texas”

*    Thursday, February 13: New Materials Group
Dr. Steven Tidrow:  “Design of Advanced Materials Using Temperature Dependent Ionic Radii”

*    Thursday, February  27:  Health Disparities and Health Humanities
Dr. Glenn Martinez:  “The impact of quality interpreter services on 30-day hospital readmissions:  Policy recommendations in light of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program”

*    Friday, February 28:  Biomedical Sciences
Dr. Saraswathy Nair:  “Diabetes and genetic variants”

*    Friday March 7:  GIS Group
Dr. Faiz Rahman:  “Novel Geospatial Data and Methods for Natural Resource Management”

*    Friday, March 21:  Biomedical Sciences
Dr. Benxu Cheng: “Neurotoxicity”
NOTE:  Meets in ERAHC 1.202

*    Monday, March 24:  New Materials Group
Dr. Yuanbing Mao:  “Functional Nanomaterials:  Synthesis, Properties and Applications”

*    Friday, March 28:  All Groups
Dr. Julio Facelli:  “Bioinformatics in Health Sciences”

*    Friday, April 4:  GIS Group
Dr. Russell Skowronek:  “Deflation Troughs, Water and Prehistoric Occupation of the South Texas Sand Sheet.”

*    Wednesday, April 9:  Health Disparities and Health Humanities
Dr. Sharon Schembri:  “Health care service quality:  Strategic insight derived from patient interviews”

*    Monday, April 14:  New Materials Group
Dr. Mataz Alcoutlabi:  “The development of Nanostructured Materials for use in Energy Storage Devices”

*    Friday, April 25:  Biomedical Science Group
Dr. Kristine Lowe and Dr. Erin Schuenzel:  “DNA sequencer”
NOTE: Meets in ERAHC 1.202

The schedule is subject to change and additional meetings may be added.
Join us, please – and feel free to bring a colleague.  Pizza and soda will be served at each meeting.

Please RSVP by calling the Office of Research, 956-665-2889 or email us at research@utpa.edu

 

 

Spring 2014 Newsletter

About the Newsletter

The Office of Research quarterly newsletter is designed to create a communication channel for news and useful information to support the research, scholarship and creative activities that our faculty members, students and staff are engaged in. This includes basic, applied research, scholarship, service projects, community engagement and creative expressions. It is intended to promote, support and recognize your efforts and keep it brief to accommodate your busy schedules.  We encourage you to contact us with any feedback, suggestions so that we may serve you better and help you to be successful.


Office of Sponsored Projects

Funding Your Proposal -Targeting Federal Agencies

In the last newsletter we focused on what to consider when you are planning on targeting foundations for funding. This newsletter focuses on federal funding agencies. There are twelve federal agencies that have funding mechanisms for colleges, universities and small businesses.  As you consider federal funding agencies, it is important to be aware of the considerations by Federal Sponsoring Agencies.

1.    Federal agencies have an established purpose for grant awards by legislation.

2.    These agencies are looking for a significant impact for the society. They will release solicitations for proposals (or Request for Proposal (RFP)). Note they are not funding your ideas; they want your ideas to meet their goals. So your idea must match with what they are looking for.

3.    You must carefully review the detailed RFP to learn what their submission requirements are, and follow it exactly. Any deviation from their specific requirements for the proposal can be grounds for rejection without review. Remember they receive thousands of proposals so they are strict about their guidelines.

4.    The federal agencies have very well established application processes; however, they have very strict deadlines, and the format and other requirements for proposals.

5.    As opposed to foundations, you will often find large grants, and it is generally easier to identify and research the funding opportunities at various federal agencies.

6.    The agencies are accountable to elected officials, thus lots of checks and balances are in place, and you may find that the process is somewhat bureaucratic. However, the Office of Sponsored Projects can guide you to make the process easier and manageable.

7.    Generally the proposals are complex with more requirements. Consult with the Office of Sponsored Projects if you have questions.

8.    You can depend upon continued availability of funding for specific programs for a number of years; however, the continued availability of funds depends upon the changes in the political trends and strategic national priorities.

9.    Sometimes they may require cost sharing, and they will generally, but not always pay the overhead, which is referred to as the Indirect Cost (IDC) or otherwise known as Facilities and Administration (F&A) cost.

10.    You can generally access copies of the funded proposals on the agency’s website. Unlike foundations, if your proposal is declined by a federal agency, you will receive feedback, which may guide the enhancement of your revised proposal for the second round competition.

11.    Do not be discouraged after the first rejection, carefully review comments, revise accordingly and resubmit the proposal in the next round to the same agency or another funding call by other agencies.

12.    Submit an Intent to Submit a Proposal at Sponsored Projects website as early as possible so that the staff can prepare to assist you during the proposal preparation stage, including helping you in the budget preparation.

13.    Please submit your final proposal five days prior to the proposal submission deadline to OSP, so that the assigned staff may plan to prepare your proposal and the appropriate forms for final submission. If there are any technical issues you may still have the time to correct it before the deadline. The OSP staff often has several proposals due for submission around the same deadline.

With this description you may feel overwhelmed, but that is why the Office of Sponsored Projects is here to help in guiding and facilitating the process for you. Call us and we would be happy to sit down with you and go over the funding agency requirements and we will guide you through the steps.

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

If you plan to conduct research involving human subjects during the spring semester, we ask you to please plan ahead. IRB applications are reviewed on a first come first serve basis. If you have a deadline to collect data, we strongly recommend you to submit your applications early. Please visit our website at http://www.utpa.edu/irb for IRB requirements and templates.

UPDATE: We have implemented a new gift card procedure. You may access additional information about it at the IRB web page devoted to the Gift Card Procedure. This procedure is applicable to all human subjects’ research that will involve compensation to research participants. This includes gift cards and non-cash items such as mugs or t-shirts. Please visit our website for more information. If your research will involve other types of compensation, please contact us for more information at phone 2093.

All Principal Investigators (PIs) should be aware of the fact that any international student who is already working on campus for 20 hours a week, and participating in the study and accepts a gift card,  they will surpass the 20 hour threshold. As a result it can compromise their visa status with serious negative consequence. The PIs should make international students aware of this fact in the informed consent form to prevent serious negative consequences for their student visa requirements.

Time and Effort Reporting (T&E)

We would like to remind all Principal Investigators of the importance of certifying Time and Effort reports within the deadline.  As per HOP 4.10.5 – University Payroll Distribution Confirmation for Grants, Contracts, and Other Agreements, “Failure to certify during the certification period is failure to comply with U. T. Pan American, U. T. System, and federal policy. This can result in having all sponsored projects frozen until the certification is complete.”

Please keep all supporting documentation, that if audited, you can prove that effort was really allocated to that project.  Please visit our website for other Services, Resources, and FAQ’s. Do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any assistance to facilitate your efforts.

 

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

If your award has an RCR training requirement, and you have not turned in the Training and Duration of Instruction form, please do so to REIN 1.106.  Indicate what type of RCR training each individual has completed, either on-line, in-person, in a lab, or an ethics course.  We are going to be reviewing your Training Plan from your award documentation and will be contacting you to assist and guide you to be in compliance.

NSF, NIH, and USDA require at least eight contact hours every four years for RCR training.  This training is required by Undergraduate and Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Fellows, Faculty and Staff on NIH, NSF, and USDA grants.

Please visit our website for more information. The Office of Research Compliance will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have; please do not hesitate to contact us!

Interdisciplinary Thematic Scholarly Communities

The spring semester Interdisciplinary Thematic Scholarly Communities lunch hour meetings are being scheduled and you will soon here about them. You may also visit the Office of Research website to see the master schedule of these meetings.

 

We welcome your comments and suggestions.  Send them to research@utpa.edu or you may call 965-665-2889

For additional resources you may visit our website at Office of Research

The Office of Research is sponsoring a series of informal talks by various researchers on our campus.

The purpose is not so much to highlight one person’s work as it is to engage others in multidisciplinary collaborative research.  The hope is to build entire communities of researchers who share complementary goals of working within the following areas:

  •     Advanced Computing
  •     Health Disparities and Health Humanities
  •     Biomedical Sciences
  •     Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  •     New Materials

Oftentimes, researchers in very different disciplines may unknowingly share a common area of synergy with other researchers. As an example, a neurologist may not see her research area having anything to do with the College of Business Administration, yet a marketing professor may be working in the area of neuro-marketing. There are many other examples of such cross-pollination.

These will be informal meetings, meant to encourage collegial discussion and generate new ideas for research.    We will keep you informed as to the date and time of the meetings within each community, both through emails and on our web site at Office of Research.

Here is a schedule of upcoming meetings for the remainder of the fall semester.  All will meet in the conference room of the Research and Innovation Building (except where noted)

  •  October 15:  New Materials community”  Dr. Jose Gutierrez “In Situ Trihaloacetylation and Bromomethylation of p-Anisidine: A Route to Water Soluble Conjugated Materials”
  •  October 18:  Health Disparities community:  Dr. Beatriz Tapia “Autism Research in South Texas.”
  •  October 22:  GIS community:  Dr. Bill Donner “Successful Collaboration Between Natural and Social Scientists”
  •  October 25: Biomedical Sciences community:  Dr. James Bullard “A Screening Platform for Identification of Compounds that Inhibit Protein Synthesis in Pseudomonas Aeruginosa”
  •  November 8:  New Materials community:  Dr. Karen Lozano “High Speed Large Area Production of Nanofibers”
  •  November 14: Health Disparities community:  Dr. Melissa Valerio TBA
  •  November 15:  GIS community:  Dr. Teresa Feria “The Use of GIS to Study Infectious Diseases in the Texas-Mexico Border”
  •  November 22:  Biomedical Sciences:  Dr. Wendy Innis-Whitehouse TBA (meeting at the Regional Academic Health Center)

Join us – and feel free to bring a colleague.

Pizza and soda will be served at each meeting.

Please RSVP by calling the Office of Research, 956-665-2889

Fall 2013 Newsletter

Office of Sponsored Projects

Funding Your Ideas

Last newsletter talked about the various funding sources for your ideas. This newsletter focuses on what to consider when targeting Foundations for funding.

1.    The very first and the most important point to consider is that there must be an excellent match between the Foundation goals and your proposed idea. Review their website carefully for their goals before drafting a proposal. Clearly articulate and make a compelling case that the outcome of your project will support meeting the Foundation goals.

2.    Generally, Foundations are focusing on an emerging issue in society, the big ideas and big impact. The focus of their ideas is well defined, hence somewhat narrow, but linked with the Foundation goals. Thus, the match between your idea and the Foundation goals is very important.

3.    They will generally grant smaller awards linked with their ongoing goals.  At times they grant large awards, only when they decide to target some big societal issues. The Foundations’ aims are to make progress on big challenges with big teams and in a short period of time.

4.    They will generally require an intent-to-apply or a pre-proposal; however, you must follow their exact format. It is generally an online submission, and you will find the format for these pre-proposals on their websites. Pay attention to their specific questions and answer these questions directly and succinctly. Upon review, they may invite you to write a full proposal.

5.    Generally federal funding agencies will grant awards in a given area every year; however, Foundations do not generally offer ongoing awards for projects on specific topics. Their priorities may change over time.

6.    Unlike federal funding agencies, you do not have much information about  past awards. At a federal agency’s website you may be able to download past successful proposals.

If you are considering targeting a foundation for a grant, feel free to contact OSP for guidance on the fit and the process. In future newsletters we will cover other aspects of securing funding for your ideas.

Launch of the New Thematic Scholarly Communities

This semester three new Thematic Scholarly Communities are being launched, these include:

1.    Health Disparities and Health Humanities – the core champion is Dr. Suad Ghaddar.

2.    Advanced Computing – Core team members include Drs. Jerald Hughes, Hong Qin, Artem Chebotko, Yul Chu and Graham Toal.

3.    New Materials – Core team members include Drs. Hasina Huq, Waseem Haider, Jason Parsons, and Yuanbing Mao.

We appreciate the core team members to be leading these scholarly communities. Look for their meeting announcements during the semester.

Faculty Fellow in the Office of Research

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Teresa P. Feria from Biology will be joining the Office of Research as an ADVANCE Administrative Faculty Fellow; she will be working with UTPA Center Directors and the Thematic Scholarly Communities to help promote and support their research and scholarship efforts.  Welcome Dr. Feria!

BRAIN Research Initiative

The White House recently announced a bold new Brain Research initiative through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies  (BRAIN) focusing on research on various aspects of the Human brain with an intent to develop a better understanding of the human mind and potentially developing ways for treatment and prevention of brain disorders such as Alzheimer, autism, epilepsy and other brain injuries. This new research challenge will engage researchers from a broad spectrum of disciplines including science, engineering and computer science. Undoubtedly other disciplines such as psychology and social and behavioral science will collaborate with scientists and engineers as part of multidisciplinary teams to uncover new solutions to prevent, cure and improve quality of life. This initiative has far-reaching implications for the national research enterprise and funding opportunities. So be thinking about how you may be able to participate and contribute in these efforts. Here are some links that you may be able to follow to learn more.

National Public Radio:
http://www.npr.org/2013/04/05/176339688/president-obama-calls-for-a-brain-initiative

National Institute of Health:
http://www.nih.gov/science/brain/

The White House blog:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/04/02/brain-initiative-challenges-researchers-unlock-mysteries-human-mind

Grant Administration News Items

The Office of Sponsored Projects, in collaboration with other units whose services interface with grant administration, has been working as a team to make the pre- and post-award processes efficient. Here are some of the changes that these units have put in place to facilitate PI’s efforts and also of the Administrative Support staff working on grant administration.

Hiring Process

In order to expedite the hiring process upon receiving an award Human Resources has created ‘standard’ positions to make it easier to include these positions during the grant writing stage.  They have streamlined job titles like program specialist, coordinator, and senior coordinator.  Internal job advertisements can occur without costs upon receiving the award notification.

Fringe Rates

A Fringe Rate Template has been created by Human Resources and the Budget Office to better estimate fringe rate costs for proposal budgets.  This will help avoid budget deficit issues during grant administration. However, you must still reconcile any project costs within the first couple months to ensure that you will not face deficits.  Contact the college ASO/Administrative Staff or the Office of Sponsored Projects on estimates for various positions.

Purchasing

The Accounts Payable department has implemented a new process for expediting invoices.  When invoices are received with a price increase of $100 or less, the department will be able to release payment and no longer require Account Manager/Project Manager (or PI) approval for the overage.  It will be charged to the same account. Invoices with a price increase of more than $100 will continue to require account manager approval; however, if response is not received on the same day that  invoice will be processed, Accounts Payable will short-pay the invoice up to the amount approved on the original PO and will continue working with the PI and/or the vendor as needed to resolve the price discrepancy.

It is strongly suggested, when ordering supplies/equipment please make sure to ask for freight costs; even if it’s an estimate and include it in the requisition.

If you have other concerns, please communicate with your Administrative Staff supporting your grant administration efforts and/or to the ASO’s in your respective colleges so that they can work with the team working on addressing such concerns.

Office of Research Compliance

Institutional Review Board

If you plan to conduct research involving human subjects during the fall semester, we request that you plan ahead. If you have a deadline coming up for your research, we strongly recommend that you submit your protocols early and to contact our office for assistance. You may also visit our website at http://www.utpa.edu/irb for IRB requirements and templates.

Note IRB Changes: If you plan to conduct human subjects research using online surveys, we strongly advise you to request access to the online survey software provided by UTPA’s IT department.  Effective immediately, IRB approval will no longer be granted for NEW protocols using online surveys managed by commercial third parties (e.g. Survey Monkey, Survey Gizmo, Zoomerang, etc.).  The protection of research participants and the research data is one of our highest priorities. Surveys using the software provided by UTPA’s IT department are kept on a secure server and the confidentiality of survey participants is protected.  The UTPA IT department is providing access to Qualtrics; IT has purchased a limited number of licenses. To request access to this software please click here. http://www.utpa.edu/dit/services/service.cfm?id=72

If you are conducting an online survey study managed by a non-commercial collaborator, like a state/federal agency or a non-profit organization, please include a copy of their management/security plan or certification of data confidentiality with your protocol.

The Office of Research Compliance will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have; please do not hesitate to contact us! For more information, please visit the IRB website. Feel free to contact IRB at 956-665-2889 if you have any questions please e-mail to irb@utpa.edu.

We would like to welcome Ms. Kimberly Fernandez who joined the Office of Research Compliance in June and will now be working full time to support IRB and Export Control efforts.  Please do not hesitate to reach her if you have questions related to your IRB application or Export Control related concerns.  Welcome Kim!

Time & Effort Reporting

Are you in compliance with Time and Effort on Sponsored Projects?

In order to be in compliance with Time and Effort, make sure you have taken the Time and Effort Training in Blackboard, your Time and Effort Card has been Certified, and if you have been selected for Verification that you have scheduled it already.

If you are randomly chosen for the Verification Process, make sure you have suitable means of verification.   At a minimum it should have some form of written documentation.   All documentation must be retained for audit purposes to support certification and must be sufficient to support a reasonable estimate of effort expended.   Please visit the Time and Effort website for other Services, Resources and FAQ’s.

Responsible Conduct of Research

If I am conducting research on an NIH grant, how often do I need to be trained for the purpose of Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)?

NSF and NIH require at least eight contact hours every four years for RCR training for Undergraduate and Graduate students, Postdoctoral Fellows, Faculty and Staff on NIH and NSF grants.   Please submit the Training and Duration of Instruction form so we can keep track of it in our Database for any future audits.

Note, per NIH and NSF, on-line training is not sufficient, you need to incorporate both Formal and Informal training, you may visit the RCR website for upcoming RCR Trainings in the Fall semester.

Export Controls

If you have a Department of Defense (DoD) contract be aware that they recently published a ruling that contractors are not allowed to release non-classified information unless they have prior written approval from their contracting officer or if the information “results from or arises during the performance of a project that has been scoped and negotiated by the contracting activity with the Contractor and research performer and determined in writing by the Contracting Officer to be fundamental research” as defined by a national security directive and other government policies. Thus we cannot unilaterally provoke the “research exemption,” we need approval in writing from DoD.

We welcome your comments and suggestions.  Send them to research@utpa.edu or you may call 965-665-2889

For additional resources you may visit our website at Office of Research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced key programmatic changes during its annual Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) public advisory meeting on May 6, 2013. Changes include the elimination and consolidation of programs, and the introduction of new programs that impact National K-20 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, research, and workforce development.

A topic that provoked discussion was the elimination of the popular Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM (TUES) program. TUES is to be replaced by a consolidated effort titled Catalyzing Advances in Undergraduate Science Education (CAUSE) that will merge TUES, Widening Implementation & Demonstration of Evidence Based Reforms (WIDER), and Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion (STEP) with an anticipated annual budget of $123 million.

New programs emerged related to the Common Core mathematics and science standards, which are aimed at improving K-12 core competencies in areas that have seen fairly dramatic declines in U.S performance when compared internationally.  However,  according to the most recent (2011) release of Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) the U.S. is now improving, with some states advancing more rapidly than others (e.g., North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Colorado). The NSF is seeking to scale-up these success stories for the Nation and will employ a new program initiative, EHR Core Research (ECR), to develop pathways that translate how to most effectively teach, train, and recruit next generation scientists and STEM professionals.

Office of Sponsored Projects

Funding Your Idea

Once you have formulated your research idea the next step is to find an appropriate funding source for it. There are several funding sources; these include both internal and external sources.
Here is a brief list:

1.    Federal or State Funding Agencies

a.  Federal Agencies

b.  University Systems.  In our case it is the Chancellor’s Office

c.  Other State Agencies

 

2.    Corporations

3.    Foundations

4.    UTPA

a.    UTPA has an internal funding program that is administered by the Office of Research. You may learn more about this program at Faculty Research Council.
b.    The Faculty Development Office offers travel funds and you can learn more about it by clicking on Junior Faculty Travel Funding.
c.    The Office of Student Engagement & Experiential Learning also has a program to engage students in research. To learn more about it you may click on Undergraduate Research and Service Learning.

5.    Wealthy Individuals may fund areas that they have a particular interest in.

Once you identify the funding source, you must make sure that there is an excellent match between your idea and the mission of the funding agency. In future newsletters we will talk about additional considerations before you start developing your proposals. Please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Sponsored Projects if you would like to learn more about any of the above funding sources.

Funding Opportunities

UTPA has recently subscribed to a new and a very user friendly database to search for funding opportunities for your proposal ideas. The software is called PIVOT.  You can very easily set up your account to begin searching for funding opportunities. You may access the video related to setting up your account here, or you may contact the Office of Sponsored Projects for assistance.

Please note that the Office of Sponsored Projects has launched an online Power Point workshop in Blackboard about  finding funding sources. You can access this workshop at the OSP Online Training Page or by accessing it directly through myUTPA.  You will need to call the Office of Sponsored Projects at 665-5004 to register for the certification workshop .  You may also submit a funding search request online.

National Science Foundation Announcement

NSF recently announced that the Transformative Undergraduate Education in Science (TUES) will not be releasing solicitation for this spring and summer 2013 due to budget cuts. However, the NSF full proposal deadlines for similar programs are:

  1. Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) is August 28, 2013.
  2. NSF Scholarship in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) is August 13, 2013.
  3. Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation is October 4, 2013.
  4. If you are considering developing a limited submission proposal, please visit the Office of Sponsored Projects website for guidelines for submission. This would allow the office to work with you to facilitate your efforts in developing the proposal

 

Communication with Program Officer

Please note, when you receive communications from a Program Officer for additional information, it is often an indication that the Program Officer may be considering recommending your proposal for funding. Please contact the Office of Sponsored Projects at your earliest convenience about this communication. This will allow the staff to work with you to facilitate and guide your communication with the Program Officer. Oftentimes the Program Officer may want to renegotiate the budget before an award letter is issued. Any revised budget should be developed in collaboration with the OSP staff.   They can guide you on what can and cannot be done in the revised budget to comply with the agency requirements. This saves time in the negotiation process and also leaves a positive impression about the PI and about the university on the Program Officer. Note that the Program Officers can only make recommendations for an award; they cannot issue an official award notification.  The Business Affairs division at the agency issues the official award notification.

Proposal Budget

If you are working on a new proposal and are in the process of developing the budget, you may contact OSP to help guide you on the fringe benefit rates for various categories of job classifications. Once the award is set up, soon after you fill positions, quickly check the exact fringe rates charged to your account and reconcile to ensure that you will have sufficient funds in the approved budget to meet the project obligations as originally outlined. If not, you may seek approval for a revised budget from the agency. The Office of Sponsored Projects will be able to guide you on how to proceed with this process. This must be addressed early on in the life of the project.

 

Office of Research Compliance

Institution Review Board

For your convenience the new electronic IRB application submission process that has been implemented can save a significant amount of time in the application review and approval time. The IRB applications should be submitted directly to the IRB portal at irb@utpa.edu. If you have a time sensitive application related to a grant award, it is advisable to make arrangements with IRB a couple of weeks in advance before the application submission. This will alert IRB of the need and the IRB will coordinate the application submission with you. Always review the IRB website for the required documentation that is needed to submit a complete application. You may access information regarding what is required for a complete application at the IRB web pages. Feel free to contact IRB at 956-665-2093if you have any questions or drop an e-mail to irb@utpa.edu.

Time & Effort Reporting

On all sponsored projects, UTPA is required to comply with time and effort reporting. So who is responsible to certify the time and effort? The agencies require all PIs or the Project Directors to certify their own time and effort and also of all individuals compensated for their time and effort on the project.  What are the consequences of not certifying? It can result in a freeze on sponsored projects until the certification is completed.  To learn more about this requirement you may visit the Time & Effort website.

Responsible Conduct of Research

Effective January 2010, all NSF and NIH grant awards require documentation for compliance with Responsible Conduct of Research training. The Office of Research Compliance offers online training through the CITI group via ORC’s webpage.  On the Responsible Conduct of Research page, find the link to Training, then  create a user name and a password to access this training.  Be sure to select UTPA as your affiliated institution. It is important to note that NIH and NSF require substantial face-to-face discussions about the various aspects of responsible training in addition to the online training. These face-to-face discussions must also be documented. These requirements apply to all faculty, research personnel, and students engaged on the project. Learn more at Responsible Conduct of Research. Please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Research Compliance within the Office of Research at 665-8991 if you have any questions regarding RCR. Note that these RCR requirements apply to all research, scholarly and creative activities regardless of whether it is funded or not.

Export Controls

An export involves the transfer or transmission of oral, written information, or visual disclosure or shipment of federally controlled commodities to a non-U.S. entity or individuals including students and visiting scholars regardless of where they are located.  The university is required to make sure that any restricted technology or information is not disclosed, transferred or transmitted. The same applies to such acts within the U.S. to foreign nationals. This is referred to as “deemed export.” If you have any questions related to export controls, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Research Compliance at research@utpa.edu, or go get additional information at the Export Controls web page.

We welcome your comments and suggestions.  Send them to research@utpa.edu or you may call 965-665-2889

 

For additional resources you may visit the new website of the Office of Research

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