RESEARCH COORDINATING COUNCIL

Memorandum 154

February 19, 2004

 

Members Present:          Curtis Anderson, Carol Ashton/Sue Steiner, Brian Attebery, John Bennion, Alok Bhushan, Linda Deck, Deb Easterly, Kay Flowers, Larry Ford, Dianne Horrocks (presiding), Skip Lohse, Neill Piland, Rod Seeley, Malcolm Shields, Al Strickland, Susan Swetnam, Thomas Windholz, Dan Wolfley

 

Members Absent/Excused:       Phil Blick, Maureen Brandon, Steve Byers, Kathy DiLorenzo, Frank Harmon, Edwin House, Richard Inouye, Subbaram Naidu, Paul Zelus

 

Dianne Horrocks declared a quorum was present.  

 

I.       It was MSC (11y,0n) to approve Memorandum #153.

 

II.       REPORTS

 

A.     Faculty Research Committee – Dr. Swetnam reported that five nominations were received for Distinguished Researcher—one each from Math, History, Pharmacy, Geosciences, and the Institute of Rural Health.  The committee will meet tomorrow to vote on the Outstanding Researchers.  The call for proposals is out with an April 9, 2004 deadline.  To access the FRC website, the address is:                  www.isu.edu/research/frc.shtml or you can go to Office of Research homepage and click on “Research Committees”.

 

B.        Graduate Student Research and Scholarship Committee – No representative was available to give a report.

 

C.       Undergraduate Research Committee – No representative was available to give a report.

 

D      University Research Committee – Ms. Horrocks reported that the call for proposals is out with a March 31, 2004 deadline.  The call and guidelines are available on the web at: www.isu.edu/research/urc.shtml or go to Office of Research homepage and click on “Research Committees”.

 

F.            Federal Initiative Update – Dr. Ford reported he, Dr. House, and Dr. Lawson are going to Washington DC next week with the FY05 request.  We have 18 proposals that we are submitting.

 

G.           Ms. Horrocks reported that the draft Request for Proposals (RFP) is out for the INEEL contract bid.  Comments are invited, so if anyone is interested in looking at the RFP, you can go to the INEEL website (www.inel.gov) and click on a press release, which talks about the RFP and then takes you to the RFP website.  If you want to bypass the press release, you can go directly to www.id.doe.gov.

 

H.           The call for proposals for the Release Time for External Funds is out with a deadline of March 31, 2004.  These proposals are reviewed by the Research Coordinating Council and then recommended for funding to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.  The call and guidelines can be found on the web at: www.isu.edu/research/rccrt.shtml or go to Office of Research homepage and click on “Research Coordinating Council”.   One member asked what the difference was between the release time grants in the various research committees.  Ms. Horrocks explained that the maximum award from the Faculty Research Committee is $5,000; the University Research Committee picks up at this point with a minimum award of $5,000.  The Release Time to Seek External Funding grants are awarded as a maximum of 4 credits or 4 workload units, or not over 30% clinical FTE per semester. A person may apply for release time from more than one committee but will not receive duplicate awards from other committees.

 

I.              Dr. Ford reported that Vice President Lawson mentioned at Deans’ Council that Dr. House has announced his intention to retire.  Dr. Lawson is working on a call for the Chief Research Officer position and said he would like to discuss the position with the Research Coordinating Council.   Dr. Lawson may do this at the next RCC meeting.

 

III.       COUNCIL BUSINESS

 

     A.     There was significant discussion at the last meeting concerning overload pay for graduate research assistants.  Per Dr. House’s request, Ms. Horrocks opened this item for further discussion and asked the RCC if they wanted to take any action on this or just make sure that it is in the minutes so that it is brought to the attention of the Faculty Senate and the Administration.  There is some precedence to hire graduate students on grants above and beyond their assistantships if the correct permissions are given.  Ms. Horrocks said graduate students have a minimum amount that must be paid but not a maximum.  The concern was that the graduate students be given every opportunity to earn extra money if they choose to do so, but not be taken advantage of by being coerced into working long hours and weekends.  This is also a protection for the students to ensure that they are not working so much that they are unable to given adequate attention to their studies. Dr. Ford said permission was normally required from the Graduate Dean before these arrangements could be made.  Ms. Horrocks said Dr. House had informed her that this issue had come up at the President’s staff meeting a couple of weeks ago and that was why he brought it to RCC for discussion.  RCC did not propose any additional action.  Ms. Horrocks said this would be in the minutes that go forward to Faculty Senate.

        

 

B.      Informatics Research Institute (IRI) – Dr. Corey Schou could not be present so Dr. Al Strickland presented this institute for him.  Information about the proposed institute was included in the Council members’ packets.  This is an institute intended to house a group of faculty (interdisciplinary in nature) working on projects that relate to informatics research. Informatics was originally called cybernetics.  Dr. Schou said informatics is a common term in Asian and European countries.  It has only been used in the United States for the last five or six years but has been a common term in journals for the last twenty years. They can create databases and neural events that interface with technology in a way that gleans data and expertise out.  These databases are in graphical, text, and other forms.  Dr. Strickland said what they are trying to do is amalgamate a group of people together to write grants to improve education, especially with the databases available related to accountability.  Dr. Strickland said he believed this was the intent of the institute with Dr. Schou as the head.  They are writing a very large proposal for external funding, which will go out next week.  They are looking for data that reflects the ability to develop a group of bright students, not just those in special education. 

 

           The Informatics Research Institute (IRI) is more of a focal point institute.  There is no attempt to exclude anyone; it is open-ended.  Dr. Strickland said he ordered a book on neural networks to better understand the term and received six books instead of one.  He said the writing is very nebulous.  Dr. Seeley said he was looking for clarity so that other people reading the IRI proposal would understand what informatics is.  He also asked what the status of Notice of Intent (NOI) is with the State Board of Education (SBOE).  Dr. Strickland said he thought Dr. Lawson had signed off on it but he wasn’t sure.  Dr. Strickland said they were looking at accessing multiple databases to be able to perform very sophisticated queries.  He said Ohio State had spent over $10 million during the past twenty years on databases for student teachers.  However, there has not been a method to extract a particular set of behaviors for new student teachers to emulate to produce a better teacher.  There have been grants at Ohio State, Illinois, and University of Texas at Austin for producing simulations of student teaching.  The purpose was to see behaviors that could be easily recognized and be able to identify quickly how an individual might react in a specific situation and give feedback for improvement.  The problem in these cases has been the ability to create a sophisticated computer system in an environment that would allow the individual to get that information, analyze it, and get appropriate feedback.  Under the current system, student teachers tend to emulate the last teacher they taught with.  

 

           Dr. Swetnam said she would like to see a more specific explanation of what the institute is, why we need it, and some specific examples of what it might do.  She would especially like to see some examples of projects illustrating what this, as a clearinghouse or network building operation for databases across campus, might do. 

 

           Dr. Anderson asked if there would be an effort to involve neuroscientists in this since the term “neural net” was used several times.  Dr. Anderson said Mike Thomas in Biological Sciences was hired because of his bioinformatics expertise.  He also asked what an individual would typically do who completed a master’s degree in this field.  Dr. Strickland said they typically work in the security assurance field at a higher level.  One Council member said a straightforward example would be very helpful to those who would be reading the proposal. 

 

           Dr. Ford said he would like to see a better description with names and specialties of people to be involved.  The Office of Research heard about this proposal very late.  Yuriy Gryazin in Mathematics is very accomplished in the medical imaging area that has been mentioned.  Marco Schoen in Engineering is an expert in neural nets and genetic algorithms.  There is a proposal in for a state research center in medical informatics, and there should be some coordination.  Ralph Chapman has a lot of expertise in imaging. 

 

           Kay Flowers said another term for informatics is information science and this field is sometimes tied to library science. People involved in library science look seriously at how information is stored and retrieved and also how to make information gathered from various disciplines workable.  She said most of her experience is with medical informatics, where people across distances can access the same information.  Ms. Flowers also said they are not just looking at databases, articles, or even full texts, but are also looking at the data that was used to produce the articles, so that, over time, there is a larger bank of data and meta-analysis can be done.  GIS could actually be called informatics because it is dealing with large sums of data.  The Informatics Research Institute would be a way to pull people together from various disciplines viewing large amounts of data and to provide a single place where they could collect the tools and expertise to use it more effectively.  For example, if courses were developed in some of the different disciplines, those people might want to be associated with the Informatics Research Institute to create a larger group of people who could be more instrumental in getting grants and also increase the brainpower for generating ideas for grants.  Ms. Flowers said she hoped the library would at least be peripherally involved.

 

Dr. Lohse said the study of informatics also extends to the social environment in addition to computers and software.  They are currently working on a project with the Corps of Engineers and US Forest Service to create smart data; that is, more than just where to find information.  The data parameters change as the database incorporates the new information in the same way that an individual’s knowledge base is changed as that person reads articles.  One of things they have developed is a working neural agent that can actually classify archeological diagnostics known as checker points so that becomes an interface for pulling together some databases that are in danger of being orphaned.  Some of it is data salvage or data reclamation; some of it is new data models that are better able to incorporate information.  A lot of it has to do with creating a better product for federal managers so they can better handle information. To do this requires stepping outside the archeological domain.  The reason they are using the IRI is to bring those who have expertise in artificial intelligence such as data programmers.  The grant also involves the GIS Center. It creates an intellectual link to create products that have more breadth. 

 

Ms. Flowers said that cognitive psychologists who are working in experimental areas are very interested in this and how people interact with it, partly to make interfaces better, smarter.

 

Dr. Piland said that Dr. Schou and Swami Laxminarayan worked together very closely on the SBOE grant and they are very interested in the health care informatics side of this.  They are interested in the interface, utilization, and access to very complex data to be analyzed for improvement of health care.

 

           Dr. Swetnam asked about the $10,000 faculty stipend set aside for course proposals.  Would this be divided among various people for course proposals?  Dr. Strickland said this funding is intended to provide opportunities for faculty to produce courses that are beyond their normal curriculum development.

 

A question was brought forward about how the Informatics Research Institute would interface with the Office of Research since the other Institutes and Research Centers on campus report to the Office of Research.  The NOI for the Informatics Research Institute states that it will report directly to the President via the Vice President for Academic Affairs.  Dr. Schou currently reports directly to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.  As far as administration regarding grants, that can be worked out with the institutes/centers involved.

 

           Ms. Horrocks summarized the discussion—the Council would like to see a better description, names of people involved, specialties, specific examples, more budget narrative and clear reporting lines before the Council votes on it.  This item will be tabled until there is more clarification on the Council’s concerns.

 

C.           Recommendation from auditors to develop and document a policy regarding the disposition of property/equipment purchased with grant funds when the grantee (principal investigator or PI) leaves the University prior to completion of the grant, as well as after completion of the grant - Ms. Horrocks said that she, Alok Bhushan and Malcolm Shields worked on this and received advice from ISU’s legal counsel, Brad Hall.  Mr. Hall recommended that the four options at the bottom of the page of the flow chart be clarified as options for disposition of equipment/property and that they be listed in descending order of preference.  He also suggested that they check with David Buck, ISU’s Purchasing Director, regarding options three and four to determine whether or not they were in the correct order or should be reversed.  Option three being property ownership fully transferred to faculty and/or institution, and option four being property is surplused for sale.  Ms. Horrocks has not yet had an opportunity to talk with David Buck, so that suggestion needs to be clarified.  Dr. Bhushan said that maybe there needed to be one more section for equipment that faculty brought with them to ISU.  One Council member thought that was already taken care of since the flow chart addressed ISU property with ISU property tags.  Ms. Horrocks said the item might be tagged with an ISU property tag for insurance purposes.  Thomas Windholz suggested that Directors of Research Centers and Institutes be added after Department Chairs.  Ms. Horrocks will share this draft with David buck in Purchasing prior to the next RCC meeting.  She asked that RCC members share with their department chairs and colleagues the revised draft, which will be sent to the membership.  Hopefully we can vote on this proposed policy at our next meeting.

 

            The meeting was adjourned at 3:55 p.m.