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Research opportunity information on-line

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 20 - February 16, 1995

At the Commission on Research's February 8 meeting, Wendy Farkas, director of the research opportunities office in Research and Graduate Studies, outlined an electronic bulletin board she is developing.

Users need an ethernet connection, Farkas said. The ROO (research opportunities office) information system is entered from the university's home page by selecting Research and Graduate Studies, then selecting Research Opportunities, or by entering http://wendy.research.vt.edu.

Screens on the first page include the `bulletin board' with links to an alphabetical index. This is designed to help the user find information from a specific sponsor or agency, information about corrections and revisions to sponsor forms, and weekly postings of information, announcements, and deadlines that have been mailed to ROO. It also contains links to newsletters, and a `bookshelf' with links to databases, sponsor information, and information created by other organizations such as bibliographies, fellowship databases, grant-writing information, reference works, and so on. The bibliographies includes collaboration possibilities and student research opportunities. Within each link are further links with other databases.

The research opportunities information can only be accessed by the Virginia Tech community, Farkas said. She said she would like feedback from faculty members as the system is being developed. "I need to find out how intuitive it is to the general user and I need to learn how long it will take to keep it up to date. It is not comprehensive, so I have to discover what is most useful."

At the bottom of most pages is a link to an e-mail form that will allow the user to send a message to Farkas.

Presently, use of the ROO information system is limited in terms of the number of simultaneous users it will support, since it is based on Farkas' computer. "By summer or fall, we expect to have a more robust server. Then we will publicize workshops and publish directions. In the meantime, we invite feedback from those who are able to use the system."

In other business, the commission named a subcommittee to study and redraft the policies and procedures on interdisciplinary research centers, to define what is a center, what is an institute, and what is a council, review establishment criteria, and discuss whether administration can be defined, at least in terms of reporting procedures and how directors are chosen.

The present policy was written in 1990, Ernie Stout explained. "Before that there was nothing. You simply ordered letterhead."

Commission members discussed whether a revised policy should address only university centers or interdisciplinary centers within colleges. It was suggested the deans would not want the interference, but Peter Eyre said he'd like "some controls."

Hxiung Tze said, "As we try to define what we mean, we need to have a good feeling for who the centers are. ... They are very different from each other, like living beings."

A draft of the revised policy will be shared with the centers, it was agreed, and the present policy will be circulated for comment.

Members of the subcommittee are Joe Schetz, Mark Smith, and Len Peters.

In other business:

* The commission elected Tze chair, since Janet Johnson has been named interim dean of the College of Human Resources. Johnson said she will ask the human resources faculty to elect another representative to the Commission on Faculty Affairs. She was the CFA representative to COR. She will complete a number of other COR tasks, such as the evaluation of the Women's Research Institute, and initiating the evaluation of the Center for Stochastic Processes in Science and Engineering.

* Johnson reported that CFA has asked that a sentence be added to the resolution to establish a research faculty series calling for review of the titles at the end of two years. The COR did that so that the resolution can now go to University Council.

* Stout presented the Intellectual Properties Committee report. For calendar year 1994, there were 59 disclosures; 49 were sent to the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology for review, seven were handled by Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc., (VTIP) two were ruled inventor owned, and one file was closed. During 1994, 28 patents were issued and 21 intellectual properties were licensed for development.

Disclosures are down from 87 in 1993, but patents issued are up. "It was the best year so far," said Stout. "We were tied for 14th in number of patents issued to colleges and universities with 23 in 1992. Maybe we're in the top 10 with 28-who knows?"

Licenses are also up. "As we have more intellectual properties to license, licenses ought to go up," Stout said.

VTIP director Ted Kohn prepared a summary of disclosures, patents, and licenses by department since 1991. The top 10 in disclosures, patents, and licenses are: electrical engineering, chemistry, materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, mining and minerals engineering, forestry, engineering science and mechanics, agricultural engineering, and biomedical engineering.

The committee reports to COR each semester.