Internal Communications

NSF 2026 Idea Machine

Dear Colleagues,

In the summer of 2018, the National Science Foundation (NSF) launched an innovative competition, the NSF 2026 Idea Machine, to crowdsource big challenges and big ideas that could help tackle them. The Idea Machine aimed to set the stage for breakthrough research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and STEM education through the nation’s 250th anniversary in 2026 and beyond. NSF received around 800 entries from established researchers, students, teachers, and even high school and middle school students from all across the country. Those 800 big ideas have now been narrowed down to seven finalists, which were announced last week.

As we continue to work towards fulfilling President Katsouleas’ bold vision to boost research, scholarship, and creative works at UConn, I encourage you to visit the NSF 2026 Idea Machine site and learn about the program’s goals and the recently selected finalists. This provides UConn’s research community with an opportunity to see what is next for the NSF’s long-term agenda and align our activities based on our existing and emerging strengths.

Thank you for your continued commitment to grow UConn’s profile in research, scholarship, and the arts.

 

Cheers,
Radenka

 

Dr. Radenka Maric
Vice President for Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship
UConn/UConn Health
Professor in Sustainable Energy
438 Whitney Road Ext., Unit 1006
Storrs, CT 06269
Storrs: 860.486.3621
UCH: 860.679.2230
research.uconn.edu

F&A Rate Process Change

Dear Principal Investigator and Grants Administrator,

UConn must change its practice of grandfathering the F&A rate originally proposed to applying the F&A rate in effect at time of award (in some cases the effective rate will have increased due to a delay in the award start date). Even when this practice results in less F&A being charged to the grant, there have been repeated NSF audits requiring institutions to charge the negotiated rate in effect at the time the transaction posts. The same is true for UConn in the current NSF audit.

To meet this requirement, this year all sponsored projects are being transitioned so that expenditures that post to a sponsored project on July 1 or thereafter are charged in accordance with the current F&A rate agreement and not in accordance with the proposal budget:
• This applies to all projects that had a proposed F&A rate of 59.5%
• This does not apply to projects that have a mandatory F&A cap or a set or reduced F&A rate (such as training grants, many foundation sponsors, etc.)
• New awards will be set up at the F&A rate that is in effect when the notice of award is received. (In cases where the rate varies from what was submitted in the proposal, SPS will contact PIs and request that they submit a revised budget as a part of the award setup process.)
• SPS will contact you when a rebudget is needed; however, you may also submit a rebudget in advance of SPS contacting you
If you have an award that is ending this year, SPS will take the necessary steps as part of the close out of your award. You do not need to do anything.

During the transition period, the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) will calculate the amount of additional F&A that will be charged to the award as compared to the proposal (awarded) budget and will credit this amount to the PI’s F&A account to support the impacted project. This transaction will be separate from the annual F&A distribution to faculty, departments, and Schools/Colleges, which will continue in accordance with the 10/10/10 distribution model. Please allow some time as SPS reviews and calculates each project account during this process. Accounts that have already been adjusted to 61% will be prioritized and the return will be completed by April 30, 2020. The return for the remainder of the projects will be completed by the end of the fiscal year. Should you have a unique circumstance, please don’t hesitate to contact Laura Kozma or Jen Johnson.

Laura Kozma

Executive Director, Sponsored Programs Services

laura.kozma@uconn.edu

860.486.3798

 

Jen Johnson

Associate Director, Awards Management & Accounting

jennifer.johnson@uconn.edu

860.486.4293

Disclosure of International Relationships & Activities – Sponsor Guidance

Dear Investigator,

I write to update you on recent sponsor guidance regarding the disclosure of international relationships and activities and of your obligations to report such activities to the University and federal sponsors.  The SPS website (see foreign collaborations) continues to be updated to include sponsor-released guidance as we become aware of it.

Please review the updates below for any sponsors to which you plan to apply or with which you are currently engaged to ensure you are aware of and compliant with their requirements.  Additionally, and as a reminder, you must seek prior approval for consulting and disclose any significant financial interests to the University.

The following topics are covered below:

Department of Defense Update

National Institutes of Health Update

National Science Foundation Update

Letter from Office of Science and Technology Policy

Recent Articles

Where do I get help?

 

Sponsor Updates

Department of Defense

Recently, the Under Secretary of Defense issued a memo dated October 10, 2019, which lays out DoD’s steps to date to “limit undue influence by countries that desire to exploit DoD research, science and technology, and innovation enterprise through foreign talent programs and other means” and steps DoD plans to pursue. The memo calls for a dynamic, Government wide, partnership, since “[no] laboratory, university, industry partner, or Government agency can address the full scope of this challenge alone, and solutions to this problem can only result from a dynamic partnership between our public and private sectors.”  This memo follows directives by the DoD in Notices of funding Opportunities related to research and research-related educational activities to include requirements to “submit additional Current and Active support information for all key personnel, whether or not the individuals are to be funded by the DoD.”

Disclose all current and pending projects, whether or not they are funded through UConn including foreign projects.

National Institutes of Health

The Council on Governmental Relations released a Guide for meeting disclosure requirements under Notice NOT OD-19-114.  The NIH requires reporting of research support from internal and external sources and the relationship to the NIH funding as critical information for NIH and grantee institutions to assess scientific budgetary overlap, and availability of time to commit to NIH funded projects.  Based on conversations COGR staff have had with the NIH, the following summarizes COGR’s understanding of what the NIH is requiring.

  1. Key personnel must disclose funding for all research activities regardless of where the research will be carried out.
  2. Key personnel must disclose start-up packages and support for research from entities other than the applicant intuition.
  3. Disclosing In Kind- Support
  • Key personnel must disclose in-kind resources that are uniquely available to key personnel (office/laboratory space, equipment, supplies, employees) including those available outside the applicant institution; details about in-kind personnel who are expected to work directly on a proposed project; report details of in-kind support in the Facilities and Other Resources section or in Other Support section of the application; report details of individuals who have expended at least one month of effort during the year (compensated or uncompensated) in the annual report (no change).
    • Key personnel are not responsible for disclosing institution-wide resources such as core facilities or shared equipment that are made broadly available.
  1. Key personnel must disclose affiliations or appointments that are likely to be cited in NIH-funded publications in the biosketch section of the application.
  2. Prior approval is required before initiating a new “foreign component” per current NIH policy (no change).

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation issued their draft 2020 Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) for comment in May 2019, which included a requirement for senior personnel to report in grant proposals all sources of funding and payments, whether paid through the applicant institution or paid directly to the individual. NSF is currently reviewing comments and has not issued any new policies yet.

Disclose all current and pending projects, whether or not they are funded through UConn including foreign projects.

Office of the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy

A letter was sent to US researchers from Director Kelvin K. Droegemeier about the Joint Committee on the Research Environment and research security.  The committee’s work in this area is organized along four lines of effort: coordinating outreach and engagement, establishing and coordinating disclosure requirements, developing best practices for academic research institutions and developing methods for identification, assessment, and management of risk.  He writes, “Working together, we will ensure that our research environments are safe and inclusive; operate with maximum integrity; protect our research assets in a manner balanced with openness and international collaboration that have been so critical to our success; and do not encumber researchers, agencies or institutions with unnecessary administrative work.”

Recent Articles

August 2019, Professor Indicted for Alleged Undisclosed Chinese Links, Inside Higher Ed article on the investigation and prosecution on a University of Kansas research professor.

September 2019, NIH Reveals Its formula for Tracking Foreign Influences, Science article on NIH methodology for threat identification.

November 2019, Vast Dragnet Targets Theft of Biomedical Secrets for China, New York Times article that covers recent federal investigations.

Where do I get help?

The University has offices to assist investigators in these areas.  Each investigator has a responsibility to make sure they are compliant with all relevant University policies and federal requirements.  These offices are here to assist and always welcome inquiries.  Please feel free to reach out for help if you have questions:

Faculty Consulting Office

Sarah Croucher: sarah.croucher@uconn.edu; 486-5630 (Storrs and Regional Campuses)

Scott Wetstone: wetstone@uchc.edu; 679-4440 (UConn Health)

Financial Conflict Interest Services – see Storrs and Regional Campuses or UConn Health

Wesley Byerly: byerly@uchc.edu; 679-2230

Sponsored Program Services

Laura Kozma: laura.kozma@uconn.edu; 486-3798 (Storrs and Regional Campuses)

Paul Hudobenko: hudobenko@uchc.edu; 679-3951 (UConn Health)

Export Control Services

Carol Connolly: carol.connolly@uconn.edu; 486-3994

General Questions and Guidance

Wesley Byerly: byerly@uchc.edu; 679-2230

Michael Glasgow: michael.glasgow@uconn.edu; 486-5011

Michelle Williams: michelle.williams@uconn.edu; 486-3001

 

Please don’t hesitate to contact any of us if you have questions or need assistance on these matters.

With regards,

Mike Glasgow
Associate Vice President for Research
Sponsored Programs Services

Export of Research Materials Abroad

To the UConn/UConn Health research community:

The Council on Government Relations (COGR) has issued an alert regarding recent situations where researchers have attempted to export research materials abroad. The FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies have increased their surveillance efforts to identify transport of research materials and verify that those exports comply with federal laws. These efforts are believed to be part of a nation-wide enforcement action to control the transport of biological materials that may present a threat to our national security and/or reduce the theft of intellectual property developed in the US, much of it with federal funds.

Transporting certain materials may require import/export permits or other documentation from federal agencies, including US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the FDA, USDA, Fish and Wildlife, and the CDC.

Anyone with questions should contact the applicable federal agency or the UConn Export Control Office (exportcontrol@uconn.edu) for assistance.

Related news:

 

Wesley G. Byerly, Pharm.D.

Associate Vice President

Mitigating the Impact of Fringe Costs on Research at UConn

Dear Colleagues,

I write to inform you that I am taking action to help mitigate the burden our faculty face when competing for research grants due to the high fringe benefit rates being charged to UConn by the state. To address this issue, we will apply funds to reduce these rates across the board for the near-term. These reduced rates can be used in proposal submissions starting January 1, 2020. On the left, below, are the current rates. On the right are the new rates:

 

Current Rates New Rates for 7/1/20 – 6/30/21
Professional 64.8% 43%
Faculty 53.2% 43%
Graduate/Post Doc: 17.2% 15.5%
Special Payroll 24.3% 19.5%
Student 4.1% 2.4%

 

Additional details regarding proposal submissions, timelines, budgeting, and FAQs will be forthcoming from the Office of the Vice President for Research.

The overriding goal is to help create a more level playing field for UConn faculty as you compete nationally for grants by reducing our fringe costs so they are closer to those found at peer and aspirant institutions.

I am taking this action after numerous conversations with faculty since arriving at UConn in August, and in light of the evidence of the challenges our fringe costs create. We know from actual grant reviews that our fringe rates are out of line with those institutions directly competing with UConn for grant dollars. In some cases, our faculty must forgo funding opportunities simply because they cannot make the budgets work because of the higher fringe costs.

The capacity of faculty to turn hard-won grants into important research products is significantly reduced, including those associated with efforts to drive economic growth and innovation for the state of Connecticut. Furthermore, this reduced competitiveness increases the challenge of recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty.

Overall, these high rates have a significant negative impact on the University’s research mission and addressing them is a critical priority.

However, this is a temporary, stop-gap measure, not a permanent solution and it is not something we would do in the ordinary course of business. As you may know, these rates are abnormally high because of Connecticut’s substantial unfunded pension and retiree health insurance liabilities. The cost of that legacy unfunded liability is built into our fringe rates, inflating them. We are working closely with the state to identify a permanent solution to this problem, as UConn does not and will not have the resources needed to address this issue on our own over the long term. But, in my judgment, the need to reduce rates at UConn is urgent enough that we must act now and use our one-time funds prudently as we seek a lasting solution.

This will apply to the Storrs and regional campuses only. At UConn Health, we addressed this same issue some months ago for the current fiscal year. We have budgeted funds to cover a portion of the unfunded liability charged to UConn Health, providing immediate relief on existing grants. We are committed to working with the state to find a long term solution to this ongoing problem, university-wide.

It is my hope that this will make our faculty more competitive as you seek grants, allow you to apply more of your grant funds to your actual research and related costs, and make it easier for UConn to recruit and retain faculty going forward.

Once again, details from the OVPR will be provided in the coming weeks.

I wish you the best of luck on your upcoming grant applications and happy holidays!

Sincerely,

Tom
President
University of Connecticut

 

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NIH Asks For Your Feedback

The Office of the Vice President for Research would like to share some information regarding data sharing with researchers who may be affected.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is requesting comments on the draft NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing and Supplemental Draft Guidance.

NIH will be hosting an informational webinar on the draft NIH policy and guidance on Monday, December 16th from 12:30-2:00 PM ET. The purpose of the webinar is to provide information on the draft policy and answer questions about the public comment process.

Submit your comments to NIH by January 10, 2020. Additional information can be found in this NIH blog post. Questions about the draft may be sent to the NIH Office of Science Policy at SciencePolicy@od.nih.gov.

For questions, please contact Research Compliance Monitor, Ellen Ciesielski at 860.679.6004.

OVPR Quarterly Reports – FY19Q4

Dear Colleagues,

Now that data have been finalized, I would like to provide you with the FY19 Proposals, Awards, and Expenditures report relating to sponsored program activity—both research and education/service—managed by Sponsored Program Services within the Office of the Vice President for Research at UConn and UConn Health.

In the report, data are presented in two ways: by the PI’s Academic Home Department and by the Managing Department or Center/Institute. Please refer to the first page of the report for definitions and information regarding the data. Should you have any questions regarding this report, please do not hesitate to contact me. Please visit the OVPR website to view current and archived reports: OVPR Reports.

Please note that we have included an additional Summary of Sponsored Program Activity, which includes the Effective F&A rate on awards. This information provides a snapshot of our activity as compared to the same period last year.

While fluctuations from year to year in both grant awards and proposal submissions are common, the government shut down in January further impacted the timing of some awards and proposal submissions this year, which likely contributed to the reductions in overall numbers of individual submitted proposals and awards received. New awarded amounts are up in total, with Storrs and regional campuses ending the year slightly below last year’s totals and UConn Health receiving $8.4M more than last year. Overall dollars requested in proposals increased from $1.24M in FY18 to $1.26M in FY19.

The OVPR continues to seek creative solutions that allow UConn and UConn Health to grow our research enterprise through federal funding, industry partnerships, and collaboration with foundations. I am confident we can continue upward trends by continuing to work together, aggressively applying for extramural funding, and pursuing new channels of support for the tremendous research, scholarship, and creative activities taking place every day at UConn and UConn Health.

Thank you for your continued commitment and contribution to our students, to your research and scholarship, and to UConn/UConn Health.

Sincerely,

Radenka

Dr. Radenka Maric
Vice President for Research
UConn/UConn Health

START Preliminary Proof of Concept Fund

Dear Colleagues,

 

Through a generous grant provided by the CTNext Higher Education Fund last year, the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) has been administering an early stage translational research funding program called the START Preliminary Proof of Concept (PPOC) Fund. Under the grant, funding is provided to investigators at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU), Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), University of Bridgeport (UB), and UConn on a competitive basis.

 

The START program aims to support the preliminary validation of innovative early stage technologies that have possible commercial potential and is designed to advance those technologies to be more attractive for additional funding. Proposals for the START PPOC Fund are welcomed from across all disciplines for early stage projects that may one day result in inventions and technologies that address unmet needs and have potential for commercial application.

 

As we wrap up the first year on funding, I would like to take a moment to recognize recipients from these institutions and ask that you join me in congratulating them on their efforts to commercialize technologies developed in the course of their academic research. For a full list of recipients and project information, visit the OVPR website.

 

For more information about the competition, visit the program website.

 

Thank you for helping to foster the culture of excellence in your schools/colleges, departments, and centers that allows UConn faculty to engage in research, scholarship, and creative activities at the highest levels. 

 

 

Cheers,

Radenka

Celebrating UConn Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities

As we begin a new semester at UConn, I would like to reflect on our past academic year and share with you the excitement, successes, and progress we made in that time. As a public research university that engages globally in the creation of new knowledge, we measure our success by the impact of our scholarly and educational outcomes, research, innovation, and the creative work of our students and faculty. In the last few years, we have brought people together around shared goals across campuses and disciplines, an accomplishment that is palpable at UConn and has been critical to the success of our land-grant mission.

Our three consecutive years of growth in total awards have borne out the value of our collective efforts.

Thanks to the tireless work of our faculty, postdocs, students, and staff, our new extramural awards for FY19 reached a three-year high of $266.2M. In FY17, our total new awards were $184.5M and in FY18, they were $258M. UConn Health received over $100M in new awards this past fiscal year reaching an all-time high. Our combined efforts represent a 44% increase over three years. We also saw upward trends in our entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem, with a record 39 high-potential startup companies joining UConn’s Technology Incubation Program, and a ranking of 93rd worldwide in the number of US patents issued for UConn inventions. It is a matter of great satisfaction for me to have helped position entrepreneurship and innovation as an equal mission for our faculty alongside teaching, scholarship, research and creative work.

Our committed focus on seed funding, proof of concept grants, and awards to support the arts and humanities has contributed to STEM and non-STEM excellence. In FY19, our office contributed $2.3M to internal funding programs and an additional $100K to support grant writing workshops and resources. We are thrilled to see engagement, collaboration, and distinction from all areas of the University, whether it be STEM, non-STEM, or a collaborative hybrid, and that these combined efforts are producing growth in research and extramural awards.

I would like to highlight a few new initiatives launched by the OVPR in FY19 that supported faculty success:

  • Convergence Awards for Research in Interdisciplinary Centers (CARIC): Support development of collaborative interdisciplinary teams to bid for major (>$5M) federally funded initiatives, such as research centers.
  • Support of UConn Human Rights Institute with two postdoctoral fellowships in collaboration with the Schools of Engineering and Business.
  • Program in Accelerated Therapeutics for Healthcare (PATH): In partnership with the Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine, aims to accelerate the translational pathway to convert discoveries into new medical therapeutics. The program seeks to quickly develop novel approaches focusing on well validated molecular targets for a specific disease area with an unmet treatment need in the current commercial marketplace.
  • Scholarship and Collaboration in Humanities and Arts Research Program (SCHARP): In partnership with the Humanities Institute, SCHARP supports innovative works in scholarship and creative activities in the arts and humanities that have the potential to transform a field of study, impact the common good, or chart a new direction in scholarly, creative, or artistic direction.
  • STEAM Innovation Grant: In partnership with the School of Fine Arts, STEAM encourages innovative collaborations between the arts and STEM disciplines. Projects funded by this grant may result in publications, exhibitions, performances, academic symposia, or other research outcomes.
  • Stamford Innovate, a new internship program that connects talented UConn students with opportunities in startups in one of the fastest growing regions of the state.

If you want to learn more, click here for a full list of our internal funding programs.

As educators, we all take great pride in our students’ successes, and I wanted to take a moment to recognize some new student projects that are truly remarkable. In collaboration with the Office of the Provost, the OVPR supported a student-led podcast called In Vivo. With regular interviews about science, the arts, current events, and other topics, In Vivo highlights the amazing faculty, students, and staff that give UConn life. The show is conducted out of UConn’s WHUS studio and is run entirely by UConn students. Check it out and consider subscribing for future episodes to learn more about UConn researchers.

Another new initiative is World Poetry Books to support its mission of publishing and vigorously promoting a minimum of six books of exceptional poetry in translation each year. This support offers our students the opportunity to gain hands-on, professional publishing skills, and establishes UConn as home of a preeminent publisher of exceptional world literature.

While sharing accomplishments is important, we also want to increase transparency and continue to maintain open lines of communication as we push to raise UConn’s research profile. In addition to sharing research and tech transfer metrics on the recently revamped UConn Research website, we encourage faculty and staff to reach out with suggestions regarding new opportunities and unmet needs. It is only together – as a team – that we will continue to drive the growth of scholarship, research, and creative pursuits at UConn.

I’d like to conclude with a personal note of gratitude. I cannot thank all of you enough for giving me the opportunity to work with so many talented, hardworking, and committed colleagues. To my staff, I am deeply honored to serve as VPR and grateful for your support, continued improvement, and service to our faculty and students. At the end of a hard day, I find great inspiration in the knowledge that UConn’s faculty and staff – whether they be musicians, chemists, or scholars of law or other disciplines – are some of the world’s most innovative and active researchers. Thank you for making UConn a special place with a vibrant community of caring, collaborative people.

We are opening a new chapter for UConn with a new President who is focused on our excellence, strengths, and new opportunities. I look forward to this journey with all of you, and please remember my door is always open!

Cheers,

Dr. Radenka Maric

Vice President for Research, UConn/UConn Health

Scholarship Facilitation Fund Announcement

Dear Colleagues,

I’m very pleased to announce that the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) has recently finalized award decisions for the Scholarship Facilitation Fund (SFF) Program. Through this program, the OVPR is able to provide up to $2,000 to UConn faculty across all disciplines, on a competitive basis, to promote, support, and enhance research, scholarship, and creative endeavors. The 2019 competition marked the first time that in-residence faculty were eligible to apply for SFF funding, a factor that contributed to a high level of participation in this cycle.

Please join me in congratulating the 2019 SFF recipients who competed in a highly selective competition.

For more information about the competition, visit the program website.

Thank you for helping to foster the culture of excellence in your schools/colleges, departments, and centers that allows UConn faculty to engage in research, scholarship, and creative activities at the highest levels.

Cheers,
Dr. Radenka Maric
Vice President for Research
UConn/UConn Health