| 03.18.2018

Reaching research goals — Janet Nelson aims to co-fund research start-up packages


Janet Nelson said her office is working on a proposal for a centralized funding source to assist University of Idaho researchers in an update to Faculty Senate Tuesday.

Nelson, vice president for research and economic development at UI, said she will submit the proposal for a fund to match one-to-one funding put forward by colleges for start-up packages to the University Budget and Finance Committee next month.

Start-up packages are funds research colleges must provide, before a researcher has the preliminary results necessary to obtain grant money.

Vice Chair of Faculty Senate Patrick Hrdlicka said he knows firsthand some of the hardships involved in obtaining funding for research.

“It would be wonderful if there were opportunities for groups of various sizes,” Hrdlicka said. “In the past five to 10 years, it has been very, very tough to grow from a small kernel of people into something bigger at this university.”

Nelson said there is space for all sizes of research team in her plans.

Chair of Faculty Senate Liz Brandt said she noticed faculty in humanities often feel discouraged from doing research, not having done research before and not knowing where to start to obtain funding.

“The sort of cliff you fall off of when you want to understand the whole research machine is massive,” Brandt said. “I think there’s more opportunity there than we have taken advantage of.”

Nelson said her office can help faculty who have never been involved in grant-funded research to find funding.

Nelson said her office plans to focus on securing grants for research in fire science, dairy and cyber security and to work more with Idaho National Laboratories.

Nelson said while small project grants are still important, she wants to make sure her office secures a few of the available larger grants.

Sen. James Foster of the College of Science said he would like to see grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) included in the list of larger grants.

Foster said the two main NIH grants provide around $10 million and $60 million each, as opposed to most grants, which come in at a few million dollars at most. He said the NIH has the second largest grant budget next to the Department of Defense

“We’re extremely good at that research, too,” Foster said. “We have experience doing them.”

Foster said he thinks it was largely due to an NIH grant that the university passed the milestone of $100 million in research expenditures that UI President Chuck Staben announced in his State of the University Address earlier this year.

Nishant Mohan can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @NishantRMohan

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