Be ready when opportunity arises
Following decades of steady increases, federal R&D funding hit a plateau in 2011 as Congress cut discretionary spending as part of the Budget Control Act. This year, however, Congress and President Trump have discussed a budget deal that would raise the discretionary spending caps by $143 billion in fiscal year 2018 and $153 billion in fiscal year 2019.
This does not guarantee a spending increase for all federal funding agencies. But there are reasons to be optimistic that increased federal funding will equate to more grant awards to fund university research. We need to be more aggressive now in preparing and submitting our proposals, so we will have competitive proposals lined up at the agencies if or when the additional funding becomes available. Let’s seize the opportunity.
I am happy to report a successful site visit from AAALAC International, a nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in teaching and research through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs. This accreditation distinguishes our already strong agricultural and biomedical programs and signals to the public, to funding agencies and to others that Clemson is committed to the ethical treatment of animals and to responsible animal research. In fact, Clemson is one of the few universities that accredits its agricultural programs.
An AAALAC team including representatives from Duke University, University of North Carolina, Penn State, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service spent three days touring all of our animal research facilities and meeting with our faculty and administrators. The team has informed us they support our continued accreditation and commented favorably on the commitment and dedication demonstrated by our outstanding team of animal researchers, staff, facility managers and administrators.
Because of our participation in the AAALAC accreditation process, we operate at a higher standard, and I want to thank everyone involved for making this accreditation a success.
Don’t miss these events
We have two exciting speakers visiting campus this semester. Noted autonomous-vehicles expert Chris Gerdes will speak at 2 p.m. March 28 at the Watt Family Innovation Center. Dr. Gerdes served as the first chief innovation officer at the U.S. Department of Transportation and was part of the team that developed the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy. Details on his visit are available here.
Renowned chemist Robert H. Grubbs, who won a Nobel prize for unlocking the door for new customizable polymers and other advanced materials, will speak at Clemson University April 11. Few Nobel laureates have spoken on campus, so this is a rare opportunity for students, faculty and staff to hear from a gifted scientist whose work continues to drive innovations across many disciplines. I encourage you to attend.
Collaborate with peers
I encourage faculty from every college to submit abstracts by March 26 to participate in one of the discussions at the 2018 Research Symposium on May 9. The symposium is meant to increase interactions and collaboration between Clemson faculty, so your participation is key to the symposium’s success. The full list of session topics is listed in the call for abstracts. I hope to see you there.