Clemson Division of Research

May 2018: A Rare Opportunity

A Rare Opportunity

There are fewer than 300 living Nobel laureates in the world, so the chance of meeting one is very rare. But a Nobel laureate was on campus last month, meeting with faculty and students, answering their questions and sharing knowledge. These are the types of activities and opportunities available at universities that display the highest levels of research activity, at Carnegie R1 universities.

After spending the morning meeting privately with faculty and graduate students, Nobel laureate Robert Grubbs spoke to a packed crowd at the Watt Family Innovation Center auditorium, providing an overview of the metathesis method in organic synthesis. Grubbs was co-recipient of the Nobel prize for chemistry in 2005 for his discovery of this metathesis method. Metathesis is an organic reaction that allows chemists to replace certain atoms in a compound with atoms from another compound to create customized molecules with specialized properties. Metathesis has paved the way for the development of new polymers, pharmaceuticals, plastics and other materials.

In addition to detailing the science, Dr. Grubbs walked the audience through some of the surprise findings made along the way and the many collaborations that led to his discovery. Read more about his visit here and watch the video to hear Dr. Grubbs speak about failures, successes, surprises, career choices and more.

I encourage you to pursue collaborations as Dr. Grubbs has. Wednesday’s Research Symposium at the Watt Family Innovation Center offers a great opportunity for you to find collaborators with similar interests. There will be numerous panel discussions on research. Visit the Symposium website to view a schedule of events and read the abstracts for the presentations. The Symposium serves as the conclusion of Research Innovation Month, in which we celebrate our research accomplishments and the impact scientific discovery has on the human condition.

In that spirit, President Clements and I will present our most accomplished faculty with University Research, Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Awards (URSAAA) during the Symposium. This newly created awards program recognizes faculty who have achieved the highest levels of national and international recognition. As an institution, we should do more to recognize the outstanding work of our faculty to remind them that their work is important, that it is appreciated, and that their accomplishments are something for other faculty members to aspire to. In academia, our purpose is to make a positive impact on society. We do that by educating students and by creating new knowledge. When our scientists are recognized nationally and internationally at the highest levels, it confirms that impact and encourages us to keep going, to keep pursuing new knowledge.

Also at the Symposium, you can demo Faculty Insight, a new online portal that will connect you to collaborators and funding opportunities. Faculty Insight will replace the Research Expertise Discovery Suite (REDS) with some great new features, including:

–           A targeted database of funding opportunities customized to your expertise;

–           Data from multiple sources for a far more accurate, complete view of Clemson research and of opportunities available;

–           A comprehensive, editable pre-populated research profile for Clemson faculty.

Faculty Insight, developed in partnership with Academic Analytics, will be posted to the Division of Research website and available to anyone with Clemson login credentials on Wednesday. An Academic Analytics representative will be at the Research Symposium to answer your questions and provide an overview of this new platform. I encourage you to come see what opportunities Faculty Insight can unlock for you.

An exciting new feature of the Faculty Insight platform is the ability to find funding opportunities customized to your research expertise. The time to apply for funding is now. Federal budget analysts say the recently approved omnibus spending bill provides the largest year-over-year spending increase for federal research agencies since the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was a significant boon for university research. The American Association for the Advancement of Science estimates this could bring an additional $20 billion in federal R&D spending in fiscal year 2018 (or nearly $177 billion in total).

Universities across the country will also be competing for these investments. At Clemson, we have been very competitive. Since the 2009 Recovery Act, total federal investments in university R&D have been relatively flat. During that time, however, our research expenditures and grant awards have greatly increased. We are consuming a larger piece of the pie, a testament to the strength of your proposals. Let’s continue this momentum and take advantage of this great opportunity.

Go Tigers!