University of Pittsburgh

University Research Council

2003-2004 Activities Report


Provost Maher delivered the Council charge on October 23, 2003.  He asked the Council to:

  • Continue to use the CRDF to help junior faculty develop self-sustaining research projects and senior faculty to reorient their research portfolios.
  • Create an advisory committee that will inform the Office of Research of faculty interests as the Office updates its procedures and software.
  • Develop a fully integrated proposal-writing program that includes a series of workshops, visits from agency representatives, and trips to Washington, D.C.
  • Explore how the University can facilitate faculty participation in NSF educational programs.
  • Work with the Co-Directors of the new Center for National Preparedness to identify faculty whose expertise is congruent with the mission of the Center.


Federal Agencies Trip

Approximately 30 members of the University’s faculty attended the annual federal agencies’ briefing on March 22.  Representatives from NSF, NASA, DOD, and the Department of Energy, among others, spoke.  The speakers universally recommended that faculty members maintain regular contact with program officers.  Overall funding is decreasing but projects in computer-related areas and at the nexus of information technology, biology, and nanotechnology are heavily funded.

Proposal Writing

George Gopen from Duke University presented a proposal-development seminar on April 16.  He emphasized clear and concise writing as a primary goal when writing a proposal.  Approximately 40 members of the faculty attended the one-day workshop.

NSF Educational Programs

Bianca Bernstein, Director of National Science Foundation’s Division of Graduate Education, visited the University on January 15 to discuss the NSF’s educational programs.  She concluded that the University, its faculty, and its students could more aggressively pursue many of the grants and fellowships that her division offers.

Central Research Development Fund (Small Grants Program)

The Council funded 28 of the 53 Central Research Development Fund applications.  The Council awarded thirteen grants in the social sciences and humanities, nine grants in the sciences and engineering, and six grants in the health sciences.  Total funding summed to approximately $365,000.

Electronic Research Administration

The Office of Research continues to update its electronic administrative procedures.  After completing this process, the Office will possess a cradle-to-grave proposal development system; be able to submit proposals to agencies in electronic form; possess a more efficient system to manage proposal development; and be better able to capture data from diverse sources.  A Council subcommittee is advising the Office during this process.

National Preparedness

The University is a member of a consortium that addresses issues related to national preparedness.  This consortium, entitled the Keystone Alliance, includes Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Pennsylvania.  Members of the Council discussed how members of the consortium can best secure financial support from the Department of Homeland Security.


Members of the University Research Council and representatives of the Office of General Counsel revised the University’s Copyright Policy.  The full Council discussed and approved the revisions.  Overall, the policy more clearly delineates the rights and responsibilities of the faculty, students, the University, etc., than had the previous version.  The policy was revised in the following areas:

·         It more clearly defines the rights of the faculty vis-à-vis the University.  The default position within the policy is faculty ownership of the copyright; previously, this position had not been well defined. 

·         Terms such as “works-for-hire”, “copyrightable works”, and “scholarly works” are now explicitly defined in an appendix.  The Copyright Committee, which will help adjudicate ownership disputes, also is now defined in the appendix.

·         References to potentially copyrightable material have been updated to include newer, technologically advanced media, particularly in areas related to classroom technology.


The Office of Research is restructuring its operations.  Two staffers have been promoted to Assistant Director, alleviating Mike Crouch, the Office Director, of some of his administrative responsibilities.  He now can focus on broader questions of research administration policy.  The Office soon will hire two staffers to process clinical and corporate grants and contracts and one staffer to coordinate research administration.  An information technology expert also has been hired.  This individual is helping the Office of Research develop a system to process grant proposals electronically.

InfoEd is providing the software that will form the foundation for this system.  The University of Illinois, UCLA, the University of Pennsylvania, and Texas A&M are using InfoEd software for the same purpose, so staff in the Office of Research are exchanging information with their counterparts at these universities in order to maximize the effectiveness of the system.  Staff teams within the Office are coordinating input from throughout the University so that the new system can best serve the University’s researchers.

Other events of note include:

  • The Office received good feedback about its new website, which is located at
  • Approximately 25 departmental research administrators attended a presentation on the NSF fast-lane process.

The Office continues to sponsor a series of National Council of University Research Administrators professional development teleconferences.  Teleconferences held this year included:

  • A Primer on Intellectual Property – September 16, 2003
  • Cost Sharing Management – January 21, 2004
  • Research Records Management – March 9, 2004
  • Project Management – June 15, 2004


Members of the Council met on April 29, 2004, to discuss the Council’s agenda for the upcoming academic year.  Attendees suggested that the Council

  • expand or supplement the small grant program so that it supports interdisciplinary research initiatives
  • exploit Department of Homeland Security funding opportunities at the University and within the Keystone Alliance
  • create a speaker series that focuses on research-related themes, such as federal funding opportunities, grant writing, and interdisciplinary cooperation
  • continue to evaluate new electronic research administration modules as they are released
  • advertise undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research “successes” to a broad audience


Office of Technology Management

Fran Connell from the Office of Technology Management (OTM) discussed technology licensing at the University.  OTM coordinates the process through which licensing occurs.  A technology transfer committee evaluates inventions to determine whether they are patentable.  The committee must determine whether the invention is novel, non-obvious, and useful.  In more precise terms, a description of the invention cannot previously have been published, the invention should not be obvious to the average person with the inventor’s background and experience, and at least one specific use for the invention must be known.

The 53rd Nobel Laureate Meeting

Jonathan van de Geest discussed his recent trip to Lindau, Germany, during which he and other doctoral students met with several Nobel Laureates.  The trip was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Oak Ridge Associated Universities and was the 53rd event of its kind.  Nobel Laureates in chemistry, physics, physiology, and medicine have convened annually in Lindau to meet with students and young researchers since 1951.  Mr. van de Geest is a student in the Bioengineering Program in the School of Engineering.

Research Accounting

Caroline Correa and Mark Stofko, Assistant Director and Director respectively of the Office of Research and Cost Accounting, spoke about issues related to federal funding of sponsored research.  The federal government continues to emphasize the need for financial compliance.  The University’s business practices related to sponsored projects have been reviewed in order to strengthen and assure compliance.  Four areas have been emphasized: effort reporting, direct charging practices, the distinction between gifts and grants, and residual funds on sponsored awards.

Council on Government Relations

Kate Phillips, President of the Council on Government Relations (COGR), addressed the University Research Council.  COGR is an association of research universities whose primary function is to provide advice and information to its membership and to make certain that federal agencies understand academic operations and the impact of proposed regulations on colleges and universities.  Ms. Phillips discussed issues related to academic freedom, research integrity, intellectual property, and financial accountability.



George E. Klinzing, Vice Provost for Research



Representing the


School of Dental Medicine

Robert J. Weyant

School of Engineering

Patrick Loughlin


Anne M. Robertson

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Irving J. Lowe


Daniel Shaw


Craig Wilcox

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

Phyllis Coontz

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

David M. Brienza

School of Information Sciences

David W. Tipper

School of Law

Mike Madison

School of Medicine

Michael Cascio


Guillermo G. Romero


Pei Tang

School of Nursing

Susan Sereika

School of Pharmacy

Raman Venkataramanan

Graduate School of Public Health

Janice S. Dorman

Office of the Provost

Janelle Greenberg


Steven Husted, FAS


Esther Gal-Or, KGSB

University of Pittsburgh at Bradford

Lauren E. Yaich

University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

John D. Beuthin

University Senate

Patricia W. Dowling, Medicine


Gene W. Gruver, FAS