University Research Council

September 19, 2007

Meeting Summary

Council Agenda

Dr. Klinzing discussed the URC’s annual agenda.  The Council will continue to sponsor the Multidisciplinary Small Grant Program, the Central Research Development Fund, and the Federal Agencies Trip.  Members of the Council will be asked to help increase postdoctoral funding in the humanities and identify future, cutting-edge research questions.

Multidisciplinary Grant Program

Carrie Leana, Professor in the Katz Graduate School of Business, reported on the status of her URC multidisciplinary small grant project.  The project is entitled “Quality Care through Quality Jobs: Retention and Development of the Direct Care Workforce.”  She originally focused upon childcare providers in the Pittsburgh region, but has since expanded the scope of the project to include direct-care providers in other areas, such as nursing homes.  She now collaborates with Professor Jules Rosen, in the School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry.  The project will be completed in two phases.  The first phase includes focus groups and pretesting.  It will concentrate upon Southwestern Pennsylvania.  The second phase will include four waves of phone-based surveys, which will be conducted over 18 months and cover the entire state.

The nursing home sector is plagued by low pay, low professional status, high worker turnover, and workforce shortages.  Professor Leana wishes to determine why individuals remain in such difficult and under-valued jobs, how to persuade people to remain in these positions, and how to induce more people to enter the field.  People leave these jobs due to lack of respect, bad management, work and family conflicts, and the difficulty of the work.  People remain in these positions because they feel called to serve; they act as the patients’ advocates; they have close relationships with residents and families; they feel religiously inspired to act; and the job offers a haven from a troubled home life.

Corporate Scholars Program

The Corporate Scholars Program was initiated this Fall.  It is designed to enhance collaboration between the University and industry.  An individual faculty member will form a collaborative research relationship with a company, which will sponsor the work of one of its researchers in the faculty member’s lab.  The University will develop a customized program for each team. The programs will consist of predetermined research agendas, agreed-upon expectations, and intellectual exchange among different program teams.  Each relationship will last for approximately six months.

Report from the Office of Research

Allen DiPalma, Director of the Office of Research, discussed the transition to the federal government’s Internet-based, grant-application site,  His office submitted more than 600 proposals via in the past six months.  The Office of Research continues to provide instruction on how to use the site.  Additional information on training sessions can be found on the Office of Research’s website.

Mr. DiPalma also discussed the University’s internal grants management program, which uses InfoEd software.  His office is currently testing processes to route 136 forms electronically and for system-to-system submission from the University to NIH’s eRA Commons.  The Office of Research has incorporated seven years of past data into the proposal-tracking module.  Protocols and processes associated with the proposal development module are currently being implemented.


Council members also discussed:

  • Multidisciplinary programs in energy, global health, and modeling and simulation
  • Transformative research funded by the NIH and NSF