External support for WFU research remains strong

The following letter is adapted from director of Research and Sponsored Programs Lori Messer’s introduction to the October issue of Research News:

Reynolda Campus research had an excellent year. For fiscal year 2013, total external support for projects exceeded $9.8 million, the second-highest amount in campus history, and that was not including five fellowships for scholarship in the arts, humanities and social sciences. The total is even more remarkable when you consider that $8.4 million, about 86 percent, comes from federal sources limited by sequestration budget cuts.

FY13 saw 22 departments and centers receive sponsored research funding, and nearly all increased its total over FY12. Health and exercise science received the most, with physics running a close second.

Faculty and staff in 32 departments and centers submitted 152 external proposals, requesting more than $38 million. Chemistry submitted the most proposals and requested the most funding.

We would like to recognize two of our former CRADLE program participants, Oana Jurchescu and Timo Thonhauser, both in physics, who received prestigious CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation. WFU has received five such awards, with Patricia Dos Santos and Rebecca Alexander in chemistry and Dave Anderson in biology already gaining that distinction.

CRADLE (Creative Research Activities Development and Enrichment) is a two-year program that helps Wake Foresters develop competitive external funding proposals.

The NSF CAREER Award is a $400,000 award given to the nation’s top junior faculty members and is meant to support their research, encourage excellent teaching, mentorship and community outreach.

Another graduate of the CRADLE program, assistant professor of chemistry Lindsay Comstock-Ferguson, received her first independent federal funding. The following faculty and staff also received their first individual external grants at WFU:

  • Steven Folmar, anthropology
  • Rebecca Powell, biology; Center for Energy, Environment, & Sustainability
  • Alessandra Beasley Von Burg, communication
  • Ronald Von Burg, communication
  • Sam Cho, computer Science and physics
  • John Senior, divinity
  • David Taylor, international studies
  • Sarah Raynor, mathematics
  • Megan Mulder, ZSR Library

This year saw the first Cross-Campus Collaborative Research Fund competition, and we plan to have another in spring 2014. Other internal grant programs were overhauled to create WFU Pilot Research Grants (PRG), which replace the Science and Social, Behavioral, and Economic Science Research Funds. The PRG will be open to researchers in all disciplines who meet the eligibility criteria.

We entered Phase II of the Triad Interuniversity Project Planning Grants (TIPP) and congratulate the research team of Richard Williams and David Carroll, both in physics; Abdou Lachgar, chemistry; Keerthi Senevirathne, Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability; and their collaborators at Winston-Salem State, UNC-Greensboro, and N.C. A&T. This group received $100,000 to continue their research on solar energy.