Sept. 9, 2010

New service unit intended to help faculty compete for and manage research grants

by Anne Krapfl

Budget cuts compelled a decision to discontinue central funding for about 10 ISU centers and institutes last year, but also to create a new service unit that provides research grant and survey help to all Iowa State faculty, regardless of discipline.

As of July 1, the new Survey and Behavioral Research Services (SBRS) merged the professional staff formerly affiliated with two other units, the Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology and the Institute for Social and Behavioral Research. SBRS, which remains at the ISU research park, will assist any faculty member who needs help with the administrative, noncontent aspects of applying for and managing research grants, said its faculty director Doug Bonett, who has joint appointments in the statistics and psychology departments.

The new service unit also includes the survey development and analysis services formerly offered in CSSM. Former CSSM assistant director Dianne Anderson is assistant director of the research services unit.

Back to campus

Faculty members affiliated with the two existing centers have moved out of the research park and returned full time to their departmental offices on campus. Additionally, the CSSM professional staff who work on the National Resources Inventory, a longitudinal survey of agricultural and other natural resources on nonfederal lands, will move back to central campus at the end of September. The library's former physical sciences reading room on the second floor of the Office and Laboratory Building is being remodeled for that team.

When the moves are complete, research park space occupied by these units will be reduced from 25,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet.

All of these changes were directed by the office of the vice president for research and economic development (VPRED), the administrative umbrella for these centers.

Getting started

For help with grant applications, grant management or survey development, contact Doug Bonett, 4-2119; or Dianne Anderson, 4- 9753. For a statistics faculty consult, review the Statistical Consulting website.

Equal access, more success for all

"Budget cuts forced us to make some drastic changes in our support for centers and institutes," said Chitra Rajan, associate vice president for research and economic development. "But we wanted to find a way to continue support for faculty and enable good research to continue.

"The goal was to bring all of these research support services together, giving faculty access to even better services and making those services accessible to more faculty from a broader range of disciplines," she said.

Bonett reiterated that an end goal is to remove some of the obstacles that may hinder faculty from successfully competing for grants.

"We think this support will help faculty be more successful, whether they're seeking assistance with grant writing, filling out the GoldSheet (an internal form required for externally funded research) or post-award with managing the grant," he said.

Statistics faculty as consultants

For the 60-plus-year history of the statistics department, its faculty have assisted research colleagues around campus when called upon. For faculty willing to be tapped to share their expertise, the consulting function becomes part of their job description, said statistics department chair Ken Koehler.

He said the intent is to keep this a free service for inquiries that might require an hour or two of conversation. More involved assistance may create opportunities for research collaboration, Koehler said, which also creates options for compensation.

The statistics department's consulting website will be updated this fall. But for faculty investigators needing help with statistical pieces of their research, it's still is a good place to start, Koehler said.