Spectrum Logo
A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

RGS recognizes Tech researchers

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 11 - November 6, 1997

Research and Graduate Studies (RGS) has launched a program to give public recognition to outstanding researchers at Virginia Tech and to communicate faculty members' research achievements to the greater local community by buying underwriting on public radio station WVTF.
Beginning the week of October 26, 14 announcements per week declare RGS's support for WVTF and recognize specific faculty members for their research. For example, during the first week, the announcement stated:
"Support for WVTF is provided by Research and Graduate Studies at Virginia Tech, this week recognizing sociology Professor William Snizek for research on workplace values to improve job productivity and satisfaction."
The second week's notice announces: "Support for WVTF is provided by Research and Graduate Studies at Virginia Tech, this week recognizing chemistry Professor James Wightman, doing surface-chemistry research for a better understanding of why things stick."
Fifty individuals will be recognized. The program began on October 26 in order to not be interrupted by the WVTF fall fund drive. During the two weeks of fundraising, a general announcement of support will be read: "Support for WVTF is provided by Research and Graduate Studies at Virginia Tech. Research is vital to Virginia Tech's mission to seek teach, and share creative solutions to problems."
"The first 12 individuals were selected from among the University and Alumni Distinguished Professor (ADP/UPD) list," explains Len Peters, vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School, whose idea the strategy was.
Peters has invited department heads to submit names for future recognition, and a ADP/UPD committee will select the next 38 researchers to be recognized. The names and brief descriptions are due to him by November 14. The committee will make a decision by early December on the remaining researchers to be recognized during the first year. At the end of a year, the program will be evaluated by the committee.
"We need to focus on research achievements that can be described succinctly in a way that will allow people to realize the impact of the work, possibly on their own lives," Peters said.
Scholarship as well as applied-research results will be recognized. "People should be able to understand that the scholarship has resulted in increased understanding or enjoyment of our world," Peters said.
Another criterion is that the value of the research is recognized by the faculty member's colleagues.
"Of course, there are limitations to this format," Peters said. "It's a challenge to describe research in 20 or fewer words, without using jargon, and within FCC regulations that require we do not use `qualitative' claims that say that an individual's research has `improved' something or `made it better' or `safe'--except for improved understanding. Still, this is an opportunity to tell people what we are doing and to recognize the people who are doing it."
The cost of 14 weekly announcements for one year is $6,300, "which is a very inexpensive way to recognize faculty members for their research," Peters said.