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ETSU fosters research via internal grants

Rex Barber • Jul 1, 2013 at 5:02 PM

A culture of research and discovery is maintained at East Tennessee State University via internal grants intended to foster faculty projects.

Dr. David Hurley, a professor in the department of pharmaceutical sciences, said each year about $185,000 in grants from the school’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs Administration is awarded to faculty who have new ideas for research or to professors who need a little extra funding until the next big national grant comes around.

ETSU’s research development committee is responsible for doling out these grants.

Hurley described the committee as vibrant and comprised of 20 standing members. Others participate, but every award recipient becomes a temporary member for a year.

“You have to pay it forward, so once you get your money you have to be involved and keep everybody else interested,” Hurley said. “The point here is that we have this internal funding that helps people collect data or maintain research projects to remain competitive. And that’s terribly important for a lot of these (researchers), because the competition is getting harder and harder.”

Research dollars come from many sources, often from national organizations like the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Sequestration, which has seen budgets cut in various government agencies, has made research money a premium commodity, and some researchers must wait longer between grants.

That’s where the research development committee grants come in handy.

Using these ETSU research grants, new professors can begin research while established professors with projects already going can maintain those projects until the next NIH or NSF grant comes along.

Many ETSU professors are using such grants.

For instance, the National Endowment for the Humanities has funded one ETSU professor’s research in Mongolia where he is studying archeology. Others are studying diabetes, public health, behavioral studies, photography and much more funded through various organizational grants.

But many are helped along by the ETSU research development committee.

A grant was awarded this past year from the committee to help make a movie about bluegrass fans in Czechoslovakia.

“We have a lot of diverse interests and that’s what keeps the interest for research and the appetite for research growing,” Hurley said.

Other schools do this same kind of funding but Hurley said at ETSU the goal is to fund as many varied research projects as possible.

“We’re trying to maintain the breadths of the programs,” he said.

Hurley said research is important because it leads to discoveries and information that no one knew before.

“To find out a new piece of knowledge and add to the information we have is always something that’s very exciting to people,” he said.

Professors doing research often have students who help or work for them, so these grants have the added benefit of encouraging new researchers.

Faculty members receiving RDC grants for the 2013-14 year included members of the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, Public Health, the Clemmer College of Education, and the Quillen College of Medicine. The recipients are Drs. Michelle Duffourc, Audra Gray, Joshua Greer, Theresa Harrison, Jameson Hirsch, Huili Hong, Karl Joplin, Michael Kruppa, Dihendra Kumar, Guangyu Li, Chris Liu, Leslie McCallister, Hua Mei, Paul Monaco, Phillip Musich, Chaya Nanjundeswaran, Matthew Palmatier, Chris Pritchett and Jill Stinson.

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