Meeting Minutes

October 14, 2020

Research Council Meeting

Wednesday, October 14

Members Present: Alberto Segre, David Drake, Jason Rantanen, John Nelson, Mihaela Bojin, Shujie Yang, Diane Rohlman, Anny Dominique-Curtius, Nicole Green, Ariel Aloe, Nick Stroup, Jane Nachtman, Erin Brothers

Members Absent: Amanda Haes, Constance Berman, Guowei Qi, Jodi Graff, Kevin Kelly

Others in Attendance – Marty Scholtz, Richard Hichwa, Ann Ricketts, Jennifer Lassner, Robert Kirby, Michael Weaver

Call to Order

  • The meeting was called to order at 10:32 AM.
  • Council members introduced themselves.
  • Research Council Chair, Alberto Segre reviewed the council’s activities from the previous year as well as the Research Council Charge from the University of Iowa Operations Manual.

Item 1:  Updates from OVPR

  • Vice President for Research Marty Scholtz welcomed and thanked the council for their service to University of Iowa shared governance.
  • COVID-19: On March 19, 2020, OVPR staff moved to remote work due to the pandemic and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  Work has since continued as normal.  The Division of Sponsored Programs has seen an increase in the total number of proposals over the summer, as well as an increase in the total number of awards.  Some new awards relate directly to COVID-19 research.  Some VPR units that perform essential services have continued to work on campus, such as animal care, central microscopy, etc.  OVPR worked closely with the Associate Deans for Research during the March ramp-down of research activities and the subsequent ramp-up in May and June, coordinating as well with other campus entities (administration, colleges, Facilities Management, etc.).  Labs across campus ramped up their activities, decreasing density in labs by working in shifts, utilizing added protective equipment, and increasing cleaning and sanitation protocols.  Researchers are still struggling to work outside of the university (long term care facilities and other external partners) due to the pandemic.  Other institutions across the country had more difficulty returning to campus after the spring, which is a credit to the work done by all at the University of Iowa.
  • OVPR is continuing all programs as possible.  Almost everything has gone virtual including training for new investigators, grant writing workshops, and creative matters events.
  • Due to cuts in state appropriations, OVPR lost around $260k in funding, which was absorbed centrally.  Most of the funding was cut from research development.  OVPR did not furlough any employees and the costs were not passed on to any other areas of campus.

Item 2:  Subcommittees

  • Publication Waivers – subcommittee needs three to four volunteers.  Individuals will message Segre individually providing their interest and availability.
  • Conflict of Interest/Conflict of Commitment
  • Applied/Secret/Confidential Research – Applied research is different from classified and secret research.  UI already does a significant amount of work with industry, but this subcommittee will need to explore expanding into secret or classified research.  Such a change in policy would require resources and infrastructure with no guarantees of new funding.

Item 3:  Roundtable

  • Research Council will meet roughly monthly.
  • Discussion on appropriation cuts and their effect on OVPR:  OVPR still has research development funds, but the amount available has dwindled in recent years.  The research enterprise often has unfunded mandates, usually in compliance units that end up cannibalizing development funds.  OVPR has limited-to-no funds for seed grants.  OVPR has met with its Central Services Advisory Committee to propose other ways to find new funds for these programs, as well as for compliance offices that are in need.  There will be an opportunity to look at P3 dollars within the next year to fund some of these research and scholarship activities.  OVPR still protects its seed funding for the Arts and Humanities Initiatives.
  • University of Iowa Research Foundation: The financial cliff for the UIRF remains an issue.  Large proposals to the Budget Review Board have not been funded but will be resubmitted in the spring.  UIRF activities are federally mandated, so a solution must be found.  Furloughs and program changes have extended the existing runway, but UIRF is currently at a minimal operational level.  The Postdoc program funded through the Budget Review Board has been a success, but not a long term solution and the UIRF continues to look for ways to do more with less.

Meeting adjourned at 11:37

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