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Winter 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.

 

From the Vice Provost for Research
 

National Science Foundation Day
This fall, the Office of Research in collaboration with the Office of Faculty Affairs organized an NSF day workshop. The topics covered included the:1. NSF division structure.2. Understanding how to navigate the NSF website to identify funding programs.3. The NSF review process.4. What to focus on in developing a competitive proposal.

5. A successful PIs experience in developing strategies to secure funding from NSF.

6. Insights into the NSF panel review dynamics.

A fair number of faculty members attended the session; however, the session was recorded and it will be posted on the Office of Research website to make the session accessible to all faculty on campus to benefit from this workshop. Look for the link on the Office of Research website in the near future.

 
NSF Updates
As you may be aware, on December 26, 2014, the Uniform Grant Guidelines will be officially implemented for all Federal grantees. It is one of the biggest modifications in Federal Government Grant processes in decades. It will affect proposal budgeting in various areas. The OSP team will guide you through the process and on revised guidelines. NSF has already created a new Grant Proposal Guide (GPG 15-1) and it is effective December 26, 2014. Please stay tuned for more detailed information on how this will effect grant submissions and grant fiscal management.

 

Open Office Hours
Please note that Vice Provost for Research has open office hours each third Thursday of the month from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. and you are invited to stop by, no appointment is needed. You may discuss your ideas or seek guidance on any aspect of your efforts. We are here to help you to be successful.

Office of Sponsored Projects

Developing Competitive Proposals

A large number of the UTPA proposals are submitted to NSF, therefore to help faculty in developing competitive proposals to maximize the success rate, the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects has developed templates for the various sections of the NSF proposals. The templates follow the NSF guidelines. The templates outline the specifics that NSF is looking for in each section are identified. There will also be supplementary documents for each section to offer additional guidance in preparing your proposals. These templates will be made available to faculty on the Office of Research website. Faculty will be able to download the templates using their user name and password at UTPA. We will notify faculty when the templates are available.

 

Identifying Funding OpportunitiesThere are several ways to identify funding opportunities. To facilitate this process you may setup an account in PIVOT software that will identify funding opportunities and bring them to your attention via e-mail. However, it is based on how well you set your research interest profile in PIVOT. Note, this software is also capable to connect colleagues with similar research interests for collaboration when a request for proposal is released. To support faculty efforts, the Office of Sponsored Projects has set monthly “Open Office Hours.” Each third Thursday of the month, from 2:00pm to 4pm, Ms. Roxanna Garcia has open office hours, no appointment is needed. Simply stop by and Ms. Garcia will assist you in setting up your account and also help you conduct some searches to identify funding opportunities for you. Please take advantage of this service. Contact her at 5008 or rmgarcia@utpa.edu for more information.

 

 Working with Industrial ClientsWe encourage faculty to work with the private sector on projects. This creates an opportunity for our students to learn about business world challenges, and solutions. They gain insights into workforce challenges before joining the workforce,Please note that before you commit to work with the private sector, contact the Office of Sponsored Projects to guide you and help you develop a budget that will be compliant with the university policies. It is best that before you communicate what the actual cost for the project will be that you seek guidance from the Office of Sponsored Projects. Starting any work in the absence of a legal agreement with the private sector puts the university at risk. However, as a team we can address these concerns through proper guidance and yet accomplish your goals.

 

Office of Research Compliance

 

 Financial Conflict of Interest in Research

Federal Regulations promote and require objectivity in research by establishing standards that provide a reasonable expectation that the design, conduct, and reporting of research will be free from bias resulting from investigators financial conflicts of interest. Every year, researchers are required to acknowledge the policy in HOP 4.1.3 and to make relevant disclosures of outside activity/affiliations according to the policy. This requirement applies to any employee, student, and collaborator conducting research at UTPA. The certification must be done before the research starts and annually thereafter by March 1st (if there is no change in affiliations). Researchers must also notify any changes in their certifications/disclosures within 30 days from the date of such change.

** Full-time regular employees conducting research (faculty and staff) must complete their certifications and disclosures using the UT System Portal: http://outsideactivity.utsystem.edu.

** Part-time employees, students, and collaborators must complete their certification and disclosures using the Outside Affiliations Disclosure Certification Form that can be found at utpa.edu/irb under IRB Application Requirements.

 

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

Please continue to forward the “Training and Duration of Instruction” forms for any training that your employees have completed on Responsible Conduct of Research since your last submission. Remember that NSF, NIH, and USDA require at least eight contact hours every four years for RCR training. This training requirement must be a combination of RCR CITI online, face-to-face, safe laboratory practices, and it may include small-group discussions through a university ethics course. This requirement applies to Undergraduate and Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Fellows, Faculty, and Staff on NIH, NSF, and USDA grants.

The Office of Research Compliance (ORC) is collecting this information throughout the year. In case you have a group of 5 or more employees on your grant, you may request an RCR Training by the Research Compliance Specialist at any time.

If you have any questions regarding Responsible Conduct of Research or training schedule, please send an email to rcr@utpa.edu or feel free to contact the Research Compliance Specialist at 956-665-8991.

 

Time and Effort Reporting

The Time and Effort Certification reports for the FY14, second 6-month cycle are now available for review and certification in the new version of the Effort Certification and Reporting Technology (ECRT) system at https://utss-ecrt.utsystem.edu/ecrt/. Primary individuals have 30 days to certify their effort and the effort of the supporting individuals working on their grants. If you have questions on how to certify effort on the upgraded version, please contact us at effortcert@utpa.edu or 956-665-8991.

 

Institutional Review Board – IRB Applications

The IRB review process and time depends upon how complete the application is at the time of the submission. A properly completed application eliminates the extra time required by the PIs to address the contingencies identified by the IRB review process, and the application can be reviewed and approved quickly. To accomplish this goal and to support faculty scholarly and research activities and to ensure that PIs questions are answered, the IRB Chair and staff has set monthly open office hours to answer questions and guide applicants in preparing completed applications. The office hours are 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. second Monday every month. PIs are encouraged to take advantage of this service to facilitate their research efforts; no appointments are needed.

 

Approvals for Continuation of Research

Note that all expedited and full reviews IRB protocols are approved for one year. Thus if you plan to continue the research beyond the approved period, you do not need to submit a new full application. Instead the most efficient process is to complete a two page “Research Continuation Form.” The IRB will review this abridged version of the application to determine if there are significant or substantive changes in the original research protocol and/or the personnel. In the absence of changes in the original approved research protocol, non-occurrence of any adverse events and no changes in the personnel the approval process is now expedited. You can continue to proceed with your research upon receiving the approval notification in response to the Research Continuation Form.

Also, note that although exempt IRB protocols do not expire, the IRB requires a yearly status report until the study is complete.

You may checkout the new IRB website at http://www.utpa.edu/irb/ for additional information. Your students may review the section on Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about the application and the review processes that have been streamlined to make the process efficient.

 

CITI Program Website

Please note that effective March 2015, CITI Program’s website will block use of Internet Explorer version 7, which is now more than 8 years old, as it does earlier versions of Internet Explorer. Site users will need to have Internet Explorer version 8 or later, or use a current version of Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.

 


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

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
________________________________________

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.

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