It is difficult to believe that this September marks one year since I joined the University of Idaho as vice president for Research and Economic Development. What an exciting year it has been – getting to know our talented scholars and researchers, meeting our wonderful students, traveling our incredible state to see our impact firsthand and working with our team to focus our research efforts.
I continue to be impressed with the talent within our Vandal Family. In my role, I get the opportunity to be the external face of our research enterprise to state and federal agencies; research and scholarly societies; and governmental, industry and nonprofit partners. This is a turbulent time for research support in higher education, so I have focused on continually communicating the value of what we do and seeking ways to bolster our mission. It’s an incredibly gratifying experience to be able to share the innovation and discovery that occurs at our university.
This year we took a step forward in our interdisciplinary research approach when we opened the Integrated Research and Innovation Center (IRIC) in January. The 20 teams in the facility continue to come together, and I look forward to the enduring activity at this center. It’s one key example – hardly the only one, of course – of the dynamic research and scholarship activity at UI.
As the semester opens, we’re seeing results of internal investments in research, an area of concentration in the past several months. The Seed Grant program reached 13 early career researchers this spring and is stimulating exciting new activity. Our 10 Equipment and Infrastructure Support (EIS) awards were spread across six colleges to meet critical needs. The new Transformative Research Investment and Partnership (TRIP) collaboration between ORED and the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences is off and running with six projects that tackle compelling areas of study across the humanities, social sciences and performing arts.
Research and scholarship comes down to investing in people, too. We’ve made some notable changes in ORED. We reorganized our technology transfer and economic development office; Jeremy Tamsen joined us as director of technology transfer and Jana Jones is our new executive director of economic development. We are in the process of building an expanded research and faculty development team. We’re also focused on enhancing opportunities – our five new ORED Faculty and Staff Fellows initiative began as a summer pilot program and will be extended through the academic year.
Our land-grant research university is uniquely positioned to address the needs and challenges of Idaho, with approaches that can find application and interest beyond our state’s borders. We have gathered a lot of internal and external momentum this past academic year. As I launch into my second year at UI, I am committed to being available to our community in the year ahead. To lead, you have to listen and learn, and I look forward to your continued input as we advance our research enterprise together.
I am honored to serve as an ambassador for our great work, and I look forward to the successes of the next year.
Janet E. Nelson
Research and Economic Development