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including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Expertise Database on WWW

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 08 - October 17, 1996

Research and Graduate Studies has introduced the Virginia Tech Expertise Database, an updated, Internet-based version of the university's expertise database. The new system will eventually replace the BEST database that is on the mainframe.

The phased-in release of the Virginia Tech Expertise Database began October 1 with an announcement letter to all faculty members in the College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources.

"If the introductory phase goes without major complications, the announcement will be sent to the remaining colleges over the next couple of weeks," said Rebecca Simon, expertise-database support technician in RGS.

Faculty members who were on the old BEST system will be e-mailed these records to be updated. The information can be cut and pasted into the new format.

Len Peters, vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School, explained in his introductory letter that the Virginia Tech Expertise Database will allow participating faculty members to "improve contacts with potential sponsors, research collaborators and graduate students," and will also "enhance public access to campus expertise and broaden the public's appreciation of the wide scope of the university's research activities."

College information officers and the Office of University Relations will be able to use the database to identify faculty members who would be willing to respond to requests for media interviews and public-speaking opportunities.

Information on the database will also be shared, with faculty members' permission, with the wider university and business communities through two publicly accessible search services: Community of Science and Brainpower for Business.

Tom Caruso, industry program development specialist, who has headed the effort to create the new Virginia Tech Expertise Database, said the Community of Science (http://cos.gdb.org) is a resource for scientific information on the World Wide Web. It offers participating institutions a variety of benefits and membership choices, including a Funding Opportunities Database and "Faculty Match" software that links expertise records to those funding opportunities. COS offers the ability for technology transfer officers to identify licensing leads, perform competitive research-and-development assessments, and track prior publication. COS has agreements with all its members that the information in the Expertise Database can be used for scientific and research-and-development-related purposes only. Brainpower for Business (http://www.brainpower.org) is a new Virginia-based service for businesses to search for information about university, college, and community college resources in Virginia.

An advisory committee that included college administrators and Faculty Senate President Paul Metz were part of the effort to create the database. Thomas Dunbar created the web site: http://gserver.grads.vt.edu/EX/.