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RGS awards $1.5 million in ASPIRES grants to improve research capability, graduate education at university

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 18 - January 30, 1997

Research and Graduate Studies was able to award $1.5 million for 56 ASPIRES (A Support Program for Innovative REsearch Strategies) grants, according to Len Peters, vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School.

"An additional $250,000 from the Office of the Provost plus combining several similar projects and using equipment funds in two cases made it possible for us to fund 40 percent of the proposals," Peters said.

There were 140 proposals for activities, equipment, programs, laboratories, and facilities to enhance an individual's or a team's ability to compete for funds from outside the university. Awards were made to faculty members on a competitive basis in response to proposals that described strategies for improving the university's sponsored-research activities and the quality of graduate education. A strong academic endorsement and offers of cost sharing from the academic unit were required.

It was originally anticipated that about 50 awards would be made ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 from RGS funds designated for research stimulation, the Office of the Provost, and the central capital account. The proposals were evaluated by faculty members representing all disciplines who were nominated by the Provost's Office, deans, and the vice provost for research. Research and Graduate Studies administrators were also part of the review process.

Ron Kriz, who worked on several proposals related to the CAVE, said, "Normally decisions about which programs to support would be made by the deans. This is the first time people in the trenches got to submit proposals just like to the NSF--to be reviewed by our peers who represent the collective wisdom of the faculty. There was no political mechanism for influencing the decision."

Many individuals expressed appreciation of the investment represented by ASPIRES in the university-wide effort required to maintain and enhance Virginia Tech as a top research and doctoral-granting university.

Robert Cannell said, "ASPIRES was a positive activity, at least for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, since several proposals came from the college. It also encouraged intercollegiate collaboration and, by cost sharing, allowed department and college money to go further."

Michael Squires said, "It was a wonderful way to encourage interdisciplinary research across the university." He added, "The process of selection was both fair and intelligent--although I wish it could have been advertised in such away as to have drawn more proposals from the humanities and fine arts."

"There were many worthwhile proposals that we were unable to fund," Peters said. "Because of all the worthy proposals and the promise they show, we hope that we can continue this program." The total amount requested was $5 million.

A list of the principal investigators or team leaders and the titles of the funded proposals follows:

Mark R. Anderson, aerospace and ocean engineering (AOE), Flight Simulation Laboratory Computer Upgrade; Greg Evanylo, crop and soil environmental sciences(CSES), Development of a Pilot Scale Composing Research Facility; George Libey, fisheries and wildlife, Proposal for a Saltwater Recirculating Aquaculture Laboratory; Jeryl Jones, veterinary medicine, A Workstation Providing Access to Computed Topographic Images; Brian Storrie, biochemistry, A High Dynamic Range Optical Workstation; Richard Walker, biology, The Visible Cell; Thomas H. Mills, building construction, Improved Decision Making and Problem Solving through Construction Field Data Acquisition, Collection, Distribution, and Transmission.

Michael Hochella, geological sciences, Development of a New and Major Research Effort in Mineral/Microbe Bio-geochemistry; Saghai Maroof, CSES, Purchase of an ABI Prism DNA Sequencer Model 377; Roger Simpson, AOE, Advanced Technology Doppler-Global Velocimeter; Peter J. Kennelly, biochemistry, and Charles Rutherford, biology, Instant imager System for Biomolecular Research; Joan McLain-Kark, housing, institutional design, and resource management (HIDM),Designs for the Future and Learning From the Past; Ron Kriz, engineering science and mechanics (ESM), Visualization and Animation Laboratory in Engineering; Antonio Trani, civil engineering (CE), for an Air Transportation Systems Laboratory, and for Research Computing Facilities in the College of Engineering.

Eric Wong, animal and poultry science, Genetic Modification of Poultry; Frederick Kamke, wood science and forest products, Towards Leadership in Problem Solving Environments for Science, Engineering, and Manufacturing; Mark Widdowson, CE, Intrinsic Bioremediation of Contaminants in Groundwater and Soils; Saied Mostaghimi, biological systems engineering, Completion of Water Quality Laboratory Research Facilities; David Notter, animal and poultry science, Strategic Planning for a Sheep Germplasm Development Project; Panos Diplas, CE, and Clinton Dancey, mechanical engineering (ME), Establishment of an Environmental/Infrastructure Hydraulics Laboratory; Erik Nilsen, biology, Strengthening the Plant Ecology Program; Wayne C. Durham, AOE, Flight Simulation Laboratory Machinery Room; John Hole, geological sciences, Seismic Characterization of the Shallow Subsurface.

James R. Thomas, ME, Instrumentation for Research on Microwave Processing of Materials; Brian Hanson, chemistry, Infrastructure for Organometallic Synthesis and Catalysis Research; Mahendra Singh, ESM and CE, Shaking Table for Experimental Research in Earthquake Engineering; Katherine R. Allen, family and child development, Older Adults' Perceptions of Biological and Chosen Grandchildren; Thomas Toth, biomedical science, Interdisciplinary Graduate Training and Research Program; Fred C. Lee, EE, Power Electronics Packaging laboratory; Thomas. Diller, ME, Development of a Noninvasive Blood Perfusion Probe; Woodrow Barfield, industrial systems engineering (ISE), Augmented Reality, Spatialized Sound, and Haptic Interfaces for Visualization of Manufacturing Processes; Helen Crawford, psychology, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Pain Systems in the Brain; Kathleen Parrott, HIDM, Development of a Kitchen Universal Design Laboratory.

David P. Tegarden, accounting, Virtual Reality and Visualization in Accounting; Robert J. Bodnar, geological sciences, Initiation of a Long-Term Research Program in Supercritical Water Oxidation; James Bohland, architecture, Rural Health Research Program; Muhammad Hajj, ESM, Ultrasonic Measurement Systems for Applications in Fluid Flow and Nondestructive and Medical Testing; Karen Roberto, gerontology, Developing Collaborative Research Teams to Address the Health and Community-Based Service Needs of Older Adults; Norman Eiss, ME., Practice Oriented Master's Degree Program; Stephen Kampe, materials science and engineering, and Jack Lesko, ESM, Establishment of an Advanced High Temperature, Environment-Controlled Mechanical Testing Facility; Richard Winett, psychology, Strategies to Develop a Rural Health Cancer Prevention Proposal.

Jeff Waldon, fisheries and wildlife, Development of the Virginia Tech Office for GIS/RS Research; Demetri Telionis, ESM and ME, A New Facility for the Testing of Micro-Fluid Mechanics and Two-Phase Flows; Romesh Batra, ESM, A Power Challenge for the ESM Department; Maury A. Nussbaum, ISE, Analysis of Body Motions and Musculoskeletal Stresses Associated with Physical Exertions: Construction of a state-of-the-art industrial ergonomics laboratory; Robert Bush, wood science and forest products, Enhancing Industry/University Cooperation in Forest Products Marketing; Laurence J. Moore, business, Infrastructure Development to Establish a Research Program in Decision Support for Hazardous Waste Cleanup; William B. Ley, veterinary medicine, Center for Reproductive Excellence Using Technology and Endocrinology.

Foster Agblevor, biological systems engineering, Construction of Fluidized Bed Reactor for Conversion of Renewable Resources into Fuel and Chemicals; Barbara Carlisle and John Husser, theatre arts, Developing Intermedia Artistic Capacity; and Robert Fields, art and art history, High Impact Indigo 2: Satellite unit to the advanced communication and information technology center(ACITC).

Awards were made from equipment funds to: Jack Lesko, ESM, for an enviromechanical durability research center proposal; and to J.M. Tanko, chemistry, for radical ion chemistry studied by laser flash photolysis.

A special award was made for the Northern Virginia Center to Sandra Stith, FCD, to enhance the ability of the NVC campus to successfully compete for human-services grants, and to Howard Robins and Scott Hauger for sponsored-programs information-infrastructure support for NVC.

Members of the review panels were:

From Agriculture and Life Sciences: Malcolm Potts, biochemistry; Carole L. Cramer, plant pathology, physiology, and weed science; Lee Daniels, crop and soil environmental sciences; Donald Mullins, entomology; Leonard Shabman, agriculture and applied economics; Richard G. Saacke, dairy science; Eric A. Wong, animal science.

Architecture and Urban Studies: Michael O'Brien, architecture; Eran Ben-Joseph, landscape architecture; Flynn Auchey, building construction; Diane Zahm, urban affairs and planning; Larkin Dudley, Center for Public Administration and Policy.

Arts and Sciences: Michael Squires and Ernest Sullivan, English; Edward Green, mathematics; Richard Winnett, psychology; Duncan Porter, biology; Donald Allison, computer science; Jacqueline E. Bixler, foreign languages; John Tyson, biology; Gary Downey, Center for Interdisciplinary Studies; Barbara Carlisle, theatre arts; Donald Rimstedt and Michael Hochella, geological sciences; Richard Zallen, physics.

Business: Steven E. Markham, management; James Brown, marketing; T. W. Bonham, management.

Engineering: Elaine Scott, mechanical engineering; Michael C. Vorster, Jimmy Martin and James Mitchell, civil engineering; Walter O'Brien, mechanical engineering; Aicha Elshabini-Riad, electrical engineering; Ronald Kander, materials science and engineering; Bernard Grossman, aerospace and ocean engineering.

Forestry and Wildlife Resources: James A. Burger, forestry; Wolfgang G. Glasser, wood science and forest products; George S. Libey, fisheries and wildlife sciences.

Human Resources and Education: Cherry K. Houck, education; Irene Leech, housing, interior design, and resource management; Julia Beamish, housing, interior design, and resource management; Melanie Bierman and Samuel D. Morgan, education; Janet K. Sawyers, family and child development.

Veterinary Medicine: John L. Robertson, pathobiology; Mark M. Smith, small animal clinical sciences; William B. Ley, large animal clinical sciences; Bradley G. Klein, biomedical sciences.

Conveners were: Peters; Gene Brown, associate provost for program development; John Eaton, associate provost for graduate studies; Ken Reifsnider, associate provost for interdisciplinary research centers; and Mike Williams, associate vice president for information systems.