Spring 2017 Grant-in-Aid competition

The University of Minnesota’s Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry and Scholarship Program promotes the research, scholarly and artistic activities of faculty and supports academic excellence throughout the University. Administered through the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Grant-in-Aid program provides seed funding for a wide range of projects in five funding categories.

Timeline to apply:

Jan. 3, 2017     Start accepting applications
Feb. 6, 2017    Deadline for applications to be routed to approvers
Feb. 9, 2017    Deadline for approvers to submit final applications to OVPR

Visit Grant-in-Aid to learn more about the funding categories, eligibility requirements, how to apply and see samples of some exemplary proposals.

Questions? Contact the Research Advancement office: facgrant@umn.edu or 612-625-2356.

Fall 2016 Grant-in-Aid competition

The University of Minnesota’s Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry and Scholarship Program promotes the research, scholarly and artistic activities of faculty and supports academic excellence throughout the University. Administered through the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Grant-in-Aid program provides seed funding for a wide range of projects in five funding categories.

Timeline to apply:

Aug. 22, 2016        Start accepting applications
Sept. 19, 2016       Deadline for applications to be routed to approvers
Sept. 22, 2016       Deadline for approvers to submit final applications to OVPR

Visit Grant-in-Aid to learn more about the funding categories, eligibility requirements, how to apply and see samples of some exemplary proposals.

Questions? Contact the Research Advancement office: facgrant@umn.edu or 612-625-2356.

Expanding MnDRIVE research at the U

MnDRIVE slider

Over the past two years, MnDRIVE—Minnesota’s Discovery, Research and Innovation Economy—has allowed the University of Minnesota to further develop areas of research strength and work directly with industry partners to advance innovation. The $36 million recurring investment by the state of Minnesota targets four key research areas (brain conditions, robotics, environment and global food) that address grand societal challenges.

Each of the four research areas has had significant successes across the University system and has also worked collaboratively with the other areas through transdisciplinary projects. Notable accomplishments by participating faculty and staff across all areas include:

  • Leveraged $76 million in external funding from private, public and nonprofit sources
  • Submitted disclosures for 143 new inventions and launched three startup companies
  • Engaged more than 225 external partners, including 3M, Boston Scientific, Syngenta, Tonka Waters and Toro
  • Hired 442 faculty, students, fellows and staff
  • Published 1,500 research papers Continue reading

U participates in national ‘smart’ fabrics initiative

MIT-AFFOA-Fink-2-Press - Post

The University of Minnesota is fast becoming a leader in the field of wearable technologies and smart fabrics. Pioneering researchers have been laying the groundwork in developing wearable electronics, including this recent multi-disciplinary collaboration to treat tinnitus, a vexing brain condition, with a flexible, electronic patch.

Now, the University of Minnesota is part of a $317 million public-private partnership to develop the next generation of “smart” fabrics and fibers that incorporate technology to create innovative new tools and products in a range of high tech fields, from medical devices to transportation to consumer products and smart clothing.

The partnership, named Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), will be led by MIT and includes dozens of academic and industry partners. Mechanical engineering professor David Pui and assistant professor Julianna Abel from the U’s College of Science and Engineering are lead researchers for the initiative at the U of M. Abel was hired in the fall 2014 as part of the state-funded MnDRIVE, Minnesota’s Discovery, Research and Innovation Economy, initiative. One of the focus areas of MnDRIVE is robotics, sensors and advanced manufacturing.

Read the press release

A ray of light on climate change

Sunbeams in a forest

Trees are a vital resource for pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it as plant tissue.

As temperatures rise, however, so does the rate of respiration—the process of breaking down stored sugars for energy, releasing CO2. Scientists have feared that a warming climate will prompt a jump in trees’ respiration rates big enough to flip them from carbon sinks to carbon sources, and climate change will accelerate.

But in a new study of 10 boreal and temperate tree species led by U of M researcher Peter Reich, trees grown at 6 degrees F above ambient temperatures—a level of increase expected this century—showed only a 5 percent average increase in respiration rate, compared to a 23 percent increase for trees suddenly exposed to the higher temperature. In other words, the trees that had the chance to acclimate to the higher temperatures responded by dampening their respiration by nearly 80 percent compared to trees that had no such chance. Continue reading

New technology aids quest for dormant genes

E. coli petri dish

English chemist Alexander Fleming may have been brilliant, but he was also lucky. In 1928 he caught a Penicillium mold in the act of warding off bacteria with what was destined to become the 20th century’s premier antibiotic.

The story of penicillin is one of many in which organisms like bacteria, fungi and plants have been found to harbor genes for substances with the potential to improve human health and even save lives. But it’s likely that many more such genes lie hidden because the organisms don’t need them often enough for scientists to detect their handiwork.

Michael Smanski doesn’t want to wait. An assistant professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics in the U’s College of Biological Sciences, Smanski has developed a technology to quickly search organisms for genes that could make the next great antibiotic or anticancer drug. His methods also allow him to find the best way to assemble the parts of those genes so they can function optimally.

Read the full story in Minnesota Alumni

Apply now for Minnesota Futures

Applications are now being accepted for the Minnesota Futures grant program, administered by the Office of the Vice President for Research. The Minnesota Futures program promotes new research and scholarship that address societal challenges by fostering opportunities for researchers to advance new ideas and cross disciplinary boundaries.

Minnesota Futures provides grants of approximately $250,000 over two years. Letters of Intent are due Feb. 22, 2016 and full proposals are due Mar. 21. All applicants who submit an LOI are also invited to submit a full proposal, unless they are notified otherwise. Two grants will be awarded in June.

As with other institutional support at the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Futures awards not only advance important discoveries, they provide significant opportunities to leverage external funding for additional research. Since its first awards were granted in 2008, every $1 invested through Minnesota Futures has yielded an average of $7.50 coming in to the institution.

Learn more and apply

Federal budget agreement praised for its science funding

Washington D.C. capital building

University of Minnesota Vice President for Research Brian Herman is lauding an omnibus budget agreement headed to the president’s desk in Washington this week. The bill would provide a boost in the middle of the federal fiscal year to key science agencies that fund university research. Herman provided the Board of Regents with a State of University Research report last week that indicated that although University research funding is more diversified than ever, more than 60 percent of research awards to University of Minnesota faculty and staff still came from federal sources in the previous year.

“In recent years, we’ve seen inconsistent signals from Washington related to science,” said Herman, noting that overall federal research and development outlays in nondefense areas were down 1.5 percent over the past ten years, when adjusted for inflation. “It is exciting to see budgets increased for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), our two largest funders at the University of Minnesota. Federal investment has been at the heart of our nation’s leadership in health and technology innovation, and these are encouraging increases for science in what has been a very uncertain period for such investments.”

According to an analysis by the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program, the omnibus budget agreement includes a $2 billion (6.6 percent) increase for NIH, a $119 million (1.6 percent) addition for NSF, as well as 5 percent-plus increases for USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (up $25 million, 7.7 percent) and Department of Energy-Science (up $283 million, 5.6 percent), two other key agencies for the University of Minnesota. Overall, the package provides an 8.1 percent increase for research and development across the federal government.

Spring 2016 Grant-in-Aid competition

The University of Minnesota’s Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry and Scholarship Program promotes the research, scholarly and artistic activities of faculty and supports academic excellence throughout the University. Sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Grant-in-Aid program provides seed funding for a wide range of projects in six funding categories.

Timeline to apply:

Jan. 4, 2016     Start accepting applications
Feb. 1, 2016    Deadline for applications to be routed to approvers
Feb. 4, 2016    Deadline for approvers to submit final applications to OVPR

Visit Grant-in-Aid to learn more about the funding categories, eligibility requirements, how to apply and see samples of some exemplary proposals.

Questions? Contact the Research Advancement office: facgrant@umn.edu or 612-625-2356.

Researcher alert: New subaward invoice payment process

Recent changes to federal research policy outlined in the Uniform Guidance have had ripple effects across nearly every aspect of grant administration across the U.S. and at the University of Minnesota. Some of the most significant changes have been related to managing subawards (subcontracts). In March, Sponsored Projects Administration released a PI Quick Guide to help researchers and grant administrators better understand and respond to the new subaward guidelines.

One outcome of the new Uniform Guidance subaward guidelines has been updating the university’s subaward invoice payment process. The new system is meant to expedite the payment approval process and make it easier for PIs to keep track of the status of subaward invoices on their sponsored projects. On-screen instructions provide quick and easy reminders about how to use the new system, but here’s a snapshot of how it works:

  • The SPA subaward system sends an email to the principal investigator (PI) inviting him/her to approve a subaward invoice (Click here to see a sample of the email that PIs will receive.)
  • The PI is prompted to open and review the subrecipient’s invoice. If everything is correct, the PI clicks “approve.”
  • If the invoice isn’t correct, the PI can notify SPA that there is a problem and that additional work is needed before the invoice can be paid.
  • Once approved, the invoice will route back to SPA staff for final review and payment.

Continue reading

Resilient communities: Q&A with Rolf Weberg

Ore Docks and Harbor in Duluth

Rolf Weberg came to the University’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) in Duluth in the spring of 2014 following a successful 25-year career at DuPont in global research and development. His graduation from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1982 led to a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1986 before he launched his career.

Weberg has tremendous enthusiasm for NRRI’s unique mission of sustainable natural resource management and economic development for resilient communities. And that enthusiasm is reaching out across the University of Minnesota, the state, even the globe. Fresh from a trip to Germany with Minnesota legislators to learn about new energy opportunities, Weberg effuses about NRRI’s opportunities.

Continue reading

Who determines how we die?

Road Sign

“Time is running out on fixing the way we die.”

This is the argument made in a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine and related post from Harvard Law School’s Bill of Health blog. Susan M. Wolf, J.D., chair of the Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences joins co-authors Nancy Berlinger, Ph.D., of the Hastings Center and Bruce Jennings, M.A., of the Center for Humans & Nature, providing an overview of 40 years of end-of-life discussions and outlining more that needs to be done.

End-of-life issues take on new urgency as Baby Boomers age and their children and grandchildren grapple with how best to respect the wishes of a generation that is famously resistant to growing older. The reality on the ground is that, despite case law and legislation in the 1990s granting patients the right to refuse unwanted, life-sustaining treatment, declaring those rights was not enough to alter treatment patterns and larger systemic issues. Continue reading