University Research Council

November 17, 2011

Meeting Summary

Export Controls

Allen DiPalma, Director of the Office of Research and the University’s Export Control Officer, discussed export controls.  Exports are defined as the transfer of controlled technology, information, equipment, software or services to a foreign person in the U.S. or abroad.  Export control laws are devised to: restrict exports of goods and technology that could contribute to the military potential of adversaries; prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological, chemical); prevent terrorism; and ensure compliance with U.S. trade agreements and trade sanctions against other nations. 

The federal agencies associated with export control laws are:

·         State Department:  International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) pertain to inherently military technologies;

·         Commerce Department:  Export Administration Regulations (EAR) pertain to “dual use” technologies (civilian or military use);

·         Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC):  OFAC Prohibits certain transactions with countries subject to boycotts, trade sanctions and embargoes.

Multidisciplinary Grant Project

Matthias Grabmair, a graduate student researcher in the Intelligent Systems Program reported on the status of a multidisciplinary grant, which is entitled Automating Comparative Analysis of Public Health Statutory Frameworks.  He is working with Kevin Ashley, Professor in the School of Law; Patricia Sweeney, Assistant Professor in the Graduate School Public Health; and Rebecca Hwa, Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science.  They are comparing how states’ laws governing agents in the public health system either facilitate or frustrate each system’s ability to plan for and respond to public health emergencies.  The principal investigators wish to determine:

·         Whether a computer program, trained on manually coded examples, can automatically encode statutes for purposes of comparisons in this public health domain;

·         What one can learn from a comparison of the laws of different states with respect to health system emergency preparedness and response;

·         Whether one can generate social network diagrams with coded statutes and use the social networks to compare statutory frameworks.

The principal investigators have focused initially upon Pennsylvania.  They will later attempt to replicate their results with a study of statutory law in California.

Research Administrator Training

Many universities, the University of Pittsburgh included, cannot recruit enough talented individuals to support the staffing requirements of upper level research administration.  Universities traditionally use on-the-job training to develop the necessary talent.  However, individuals usually are prepared for work in a single office.  They do not acquire the broad knowledge of the research enterprise that a higher level administrator must possess.  Johns Hopkins University developed a training program that counters this trend.  The University of Pittsburgh proposes to use it as a model for a similar program.

Star Metrics

The University will participate in Star Metrics, a multi-agency venture led by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  There are two phases to the program. The first phase will use university administrative records to calculate the employment impact of federal science spending through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and agencies' existing budgets. The second phase will measure the impact of science investment in four key areas: economic growth, workforce outcomes, scientific knowledge, and social outcomes.

Open Access

The University of Pittsburgh is developing a program entitled Open Access@PITT.  Open Access is a family of copyright licensing policies under which copyright owners make their works available publicly, without access being limited to subscribers or purchasers of the material, and typically in online databases.  Disseminating information or publishing under Open Access principles means that access to the results of research is provided freely, immediately, and digitally, as is the right to use and re-use those results as needed.  Open Access is compatible with the features and services of scholarly literature and communication, including copyright, peer review, revenue (even profit), print, preservation, prestige, quality, career-advancement, indexing, and more.

Multidisciplinary Projects

The Provost’s Office will explore three multidisciplinary topics: quantum information science, synthetic biology, and engineered materials.  Teams will meet regularly to work on the projects.  Each team will prepare a white paper as a plan for future research.


Council members also discussed several other issues:

·         Academic analytics, a provider of academic business intelligence data.

·         The University’s Module on research integrity