University Research Council

February 17, 2009

Meeting Summary


Multidisciplinary Grant Award Report

Valerian Kagan, Professor in the Graduate School of Public Health, reported on the status of his multidisciplinary grant project.Faculty members from GSPH, the School of Engineering, and the School of Arts and Sciences participate in the project, which deals with issues related to nanoparticle toxicity (specifically carbon nanotubes).Carbon nanotubes are one-atom-thick rolls of graphite 100,000 times smaller than a human hair yet stronger than steel and excellent conductors of electricity and heat. They reinforce plastics, ceramics, or concrete; conduct electricity in electronics or energy-conversion devices; and are sensitive chemical sensors.Dr. Kagan and his team developed the first natural, nontoxic method for biodegrading carbon nanotubes, a finding that could help diminish the environmental and health concerns that mar the otherwise bright prospects of the super-strong materials.They found that carbon nanotubes deteriorate when exposed to the natural enzyme horseradish peroxidase.These results open the door to further development of safe and natural methods of cleaning up carbon nanotube spills in the environment and the industrial or laboratory setting.

Funding Trips

The Provostís Office will sponsor two funding trips this semester.The first event is the annual Washington, D.C., federal agencies trip.Faculty members from the social sciences and education will meet with program officers from federal funding agencies.The trip will take place on Sunday and Monday, March 22nd and 23rd.The second event is a new venture.Faculty members, primarily from the humanities and social sciences, will discuss funding opportunities with representatives of the European Union and its member countries.The trip will take place on Sunday and Monday, April 19th and 20th.

Report from the Office of Research

Debra Evansky from the Office of Research discussed several items related to foundation and federal research funding:

  • The American Heart Association is developing an electronic proposal-submission process.The procedures are undergoing testing.
  • Grants.gov and NSF Fastlane were recently overloaded due to high submission volumes.They may require additional staffing to overcome the increasing traffic.
  • Many foundations are undergoing severe budget cuts.Several foundations have gone under due to the severity of the economic decline.

Miscellaneous

Council members discussed several additional items:

  • The Multidisciplinary Small Grant and Central Research Development Fund programs
  • The federal economic stimulus package and federal research funding
  • Foundation research funding and the recession