Stanley Jackson Named Assistant Director of Office of Sponsored Programs

From: Karl V. Steiner, Vice President for Research

I am pleased to announce that Stanley Jackson, Grants & Contracts Manager in UMBC’s Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) has been promoted to Assistant Director of OSP, effective May 17, 2015.

Stan brings a considerable amount of experience to this new position. He is a Certified Research Administrator (CRA) with a Graduate Certificate in Biotechnology and a Master’s Certificate in Government Contracting. Stan has over 20 years of experience across three University System of Maryland institutions, including almost six years with UMBC. His experience includes contract and grant accounting, departmental administration and central management in sponsored programs.

With Stan assuming this important position, we are confident to assure continuity of the high level of service and expertise provided by OSP. As part of a broader re-organization of the office, we have also started the process of looking to fill two additional positions, a Grants & Contracts Specialist and a Data Analyst, to support the current and future needs of the UMBC community.

Dean Drake, Associate Vice President for Research, will assume some of the former OSP Director responsibilities.

Please join me in congratulating Stan on his new position as Assistant Director.

UMBC Research Forum Tackles High-Performance Computing

UMBC hosted its semi-annual Research Forum on May 1, 2015.  This semester’s forum focused on the role high-performance computing (HPC) can play in a variety of interdisciplinary applications, and featured speakers from diverse programs such as information systems, chemistry and biochemistry, geography and environmental systems, and computer science and electrical engineering.  UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski noted, “The mid-Atlantic region has one of the greatest concentrations of super-computing in the world.  That gives us a certain advantage as researchers.”  One key advantage is the facility of creating partnerships, “not just between universities, but with companies,” Hrabowski said.

HighPerformanceComputingThe forum keynote speaker, Al Grasso, is the CEO of MITRE Corporation, a critical UMBC partner.  MITRE and the University System of Maryland are developing the first federally-funded research and development center (FFRDC) devoted exclusively to cybersecurity.  It’s also unique among the FFRDCs, because it addresses applications in both the public and private sectors.

“I couldn’t think of a better partner to have to deal with one of the most complex problems that this nation and, quite frankly, the world face today,” said Grasso of UMBC.  The group of institutions involved in the FFRDC is “the brain trust in this country” for cybersecurity, Grasso added.  While the current partnership is focused on the FFRDC and cybersecurity, Grasso hopes MITRE’s partnership with UMBC will expand.  “What excites me is not only what we’re doing today, but what we could be doing in the future,” he said.

Jack Suess, UMBC Vice President of Information Technology, said, “HPC is the poster child for these kinds of collaborations here at UMBC.”  Several industry partners and 16 departments at UMBC have all contributed funds to grow the university’s computing power for research, which creates a “robust HPC environment,” he said.  Matthias Gobbert, Director of the High-performance Computing Facility at UMBC, added that in April 2015 there were 71 active users of the facility from 28 different research groups on campus.  Seventeen theses and 181 other publications have come from work done at the facility since 2008.

UMBC’s growing computing power is impressive, but research on these machines addresses fundamental questions that are “nothing new,” according to Milt Halem, UMBC Site Director of the Center for Hybrid Multicore Productivity.  Compared to several decades ago, “what’s different is the scale and scope of these problems,” he said.

A panel at the forum addressed how HPC can impact health care.  “High-performance computing has the potential to completely change the way we practice medicine,” said Eliot Siegel, Professor of Diagnostic Radiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  He envisions doctors using gigantic databases to help recommend treatments and make prognoses based on thousands of data points from patients with similar backgrounds and symptoms.  With fingertip access to thorough aggregate health information and advanced computational tools, doctors could answer some patient questions, like “How likely is my cancer to go into remission with surgery alone?” in seconds rather than days.

Ian Stockwell, Director of Special Studies at UMBC’s Hilltop Institute, sees another use for HPC in health care.  “Health and medicine are not the same thing,” he said.  Getting to a doctor’s office or pharmacy is a challenge for many, and housing quality and location can play a big role in physical and emotional health, too.  Stockwell is working on using HPC to integrate information about an individual’s lifestyle and medical history, which would allow for a more holistic approach to health.  That would create the possibility of providing non-medical (and often less-expensive) interventions that improve health.  Stockwell acknowledges the challenges to an integrative approach, such as initially getting individuals to fill out extensive surveys about their lifestyle, but “anything we can do is better than the status quo,” he said.

The two afternoon panels focused on cybersecurity and on modeling, simulation and visualization.  Poster sessions allowed for mingling, in hopes that attendees would forge new collaborations.  Irene Qualters, Director of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure at the National Science Foundation, also spoke.  She emphasized the diversity of computational requirements and instrumentation for new research projects.  She also addressed the unprecedented growth in data collection that HPC makes possible and the importance of collaboration.  “Collaborations are geographically distributed and conversations are international,” she said.  And, with research budgets expected to stay flat, “that will be more incentive to collaborate across agencies,” she added.

While challenges like funding can make research today tricky, Qualters is quick to point out the silver lining.  “This is a world of opportunity.  This is an important and a very exciting time, and I hope you’re feeling it at your institution,” she said.  The Research Forum and new FFRDC demonstrate that UMBC is pouncing on new opportunities.  President Hrabowski acknowledged that in this era of tight funding, “the name of the game will be interdisciplinarity, collaboration, having the right attitude, multi-year process, and execution,” he said.  “Welcome to UMBC.”

Workshop on Commercialization of UMBC Inventions (1/20)

12662631454_73fd5871b4_zJanuary 20, 2015, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon. Location: ITE 456

This workshop will describe the resources available for commercialization of inventions by UMBC researchers. UMBC has a process in place to help — starting with the submission of invention disclosures and patent applications, to the licensing of the patent or to the development of a start-up company. UMBC faculty will discuss their experiences in obtaining funding for their projects.

UMBC Hosts Inaugural Research Forum on The Nexus of Social Sciences and Human Health

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Dr. William Riley presents the keynote address. Photo by Marlayna Demond.

On Friday, November 21, UMBC hosted its inaugural Research Forum, the first event in a new, semi-annual series to bring together researchers and scientists from across UMBC and partner institutions to establish collaborations around common research themes. The first event was titled, “The Nexus of Social Sciences and Human Health Research,” and it was sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research. The forum aimed to advance intra-campus and inter-campus collaborations in the social and health sciences and to initiate conversations about the role of social sciences in basic and translational research.

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John Schumacher, associate professor of sociology, participates in panel discussion. Photo by Marlayna Demond.

Dr. William Riley, the Acting Director of the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), presented the event’s keynote address. Dr. Riley discussed how researchers are now faced with a data-rich environment to enhance their work when conducting investigations, including advances with item response theory, computer adaptive testing, and other sensor technologies which generate reports in real-time.

Researchers from UMBC and UMB participated in a panel discussion that focused on developing meaningful links across disciplines. John Schumacher, an associate professor of sociology, discussed strategies for seeking research partners and establishing leaders and milestones to advance interdisciplinary research projects. Fadia Shaya, a professor of pharmaceutical health services research at UMB, discussed how developing peer support and establishing social networks can lead to improved outcomes. UMBC professors Shari Waldstein (psychology) and Brian Cullum (chemistry and biochemistry), shared their insights on strategies for collaboration across disciplines, including building on pilot data and prior research to advance projects. Lee Boot, associate director of UMBC’s Imaging Research Center, discussed how discipline silos no longer exist and how collaboration is needed to solve problems.

Future Research Forums will focus on high-performance computation and environmental sciences and remote sensing. For more information, click here.

Research Compliance Education Sessions

Want to learn more about UMBC’s research compliance program? Have a burning question about regulations? Need an “experienced” eye to review an application before submitted, for example, to the IRB? Unsure if your investigation requires review for conflicts of interest or use of controlled materials or data?

Come join your Office of Research Protections and Compliance (ORPC) colleagues on Wednesdays at 12:00 pm during this semester over in bwTech North (the Research Park) to discuss and answer your questions. A complete schedule of topic, days and times, registration and directions can be found here.

Questions? Please contact the ORPC at 5-2737 or compliance@umbc.edu.

UMBC Launches New Research@UMBC Website

researchsiteUMBC’s Office of the Vice President for Research has launched a new website to increase awareness of UMBC’s research activity and to provide enhanced access to campus-wide resources that support research and grant-related activities.

“This new window into the innovative discoveries and creations of the UMBC community will empower students, faculty and staff by ensuring their accomplishments reach a broader audience within the campus community and beyond. It will also act as a consolidated portal to events and resources provided by UMBC to better position all of our scholars to advance their fields of study,” stated Vice President for Research Karl Steiner.

To subscribe to the news and events, which appear on the front page of the site, visitors can join the Office of the Vice President for Research myUMBC group. The site itself can be bookmarked at research.umbc.edu.

New Procedures for Biosafety/Recombinant DNA Research

The Office of Research Protections and Compliance (ORPC) has created a presentation for faculty, students and staff to describe the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) research review and application procedures, inform investigators of their role and responsibilities in this process, and provide guidance to investigators on steps to transition from the current biosafety review process to the new IBC’s application and review procedures.

Several dates are available for a “drop-in” session to learn more about the process. Click here to view the dates and to register.

ORPC staff also are available to meet with investigators individually or in a departmental setting. Please send a message to compliance@umbc.edu with the days and times available.