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Newly Created Team Helps Research Soar

The Research Development Team will help faculty members win large research grants.

Written by Sally Logue Post

Complex grants can become an almost full-time job for researchers. The RDT also allows faculty to continue to focus on their work in the classroom.

Complex grants can become an almost full-time job for researchers. The RDT also allows faculty to continue to focus on their work in the classroom.

Texas Tech has created a new resource to help faculty members win large research grants. The Research Development Team (RDT) is a three-person group working primarily with multi-disciplinary or multi-institutional teams applying for large awards.

“Texas Tech has made a serious commitment to expand our research enterprise,” said Guy Bailey, Texas Tech president. “To achieve our goal we must provide our researchers with the support such as the RDT that they need to successfully win large competitive grants.”

The RDT, which has unofficially been known as the SOAR team, is made up of Reagan Hales, managing director; Heather Morris, associate managing director; and Anna Thomas Young, senior proposal development administrator.

“Many funding agencies are moving toward awarding large, multi-million dollar grants to teams of researchers from multiple institutions,” said Taylor Eighmy, vice president for research at Texas Tech. “The RDT was created to help find opportunities to partner with other institutions and then help shepherd the proposal through to completion.”

Complex grants can become an almost full-time job for researchers. The RDT also allows faculty to continue to focus on their work in the classroom.

“It is extremely challenging for a single researcher to do all of the administrative work involved in a complex, multi-institutional grant submission,” said Bob Smith, Texas Tech provost. “The RDT provides that valuable assistance so that the faculty members can still manage their other teaching, research and service demands.”

The RDT has had two recent successes. Texas Tech and two industry partners secured a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to accelerate the development of midsize wind turbines for the U.S. market with the ultimate goal of making these turbines commercially available.

A key part of the team’s responsibility is forecasting what external funding opportunities are on the horizon and examining whether they fall within the university’s research themes.

A key part of the team’s responsibility is forecasting what external funding opportunities are on the horizon and examining whether they fall within the university’s research themes.

Also, the South Central Climate Science Center, a multi-million dollar award from the U.S. Department of the Interior, was awarded to a consortium consisting of Texas Tech, the University of Oklahoma (OU), Oklahoma State University, Louisiana State University, the Chickasaw Nation, the Choctaw Nation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

“The RDT at Texas Tech and its counterparts at OU were essential to keeping the faculty focused on their tasks and for keeping the weekly momentum going in the development of such a complex proposal as the Climate Science Consortium,” said John Zak, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and the university lead investigator on the project. “We would not have been successful, I believe, without their efforts. We now have at TTU a proposal support team that understands the complexities of developing multi-university and investigator proposals and the necessity of having a larger team participate in these efforts. I believe we have the capacity to take advantage of many more large funding opportunities with their assistance.”

“Through our research development colleagues and our discussions with faculty, the RDT knew about the grant opportunity for the climate science center almost a full year before the proposals were due,” said Hales. “We helped develop and support a team of researchers at Texas Tech through each phase of the proposal with our counterparts at the other universities.”

A key part of the team’s responsibility is forecasting what external funding opportunities are on the horizon and examining whether they fall within the university’s research themes and investment areas, then determining if there are researchers at Texas Tech who are interested and analyzing if there are other institutions or other external partners that would be a good fit with Texas Tech researchers.

“If we know what external funding agencies are interested in ahead of time, we can begin preparing long before the actual requests for proposals go out,” said Hales. “These large, multi-institutional proposals take a great deal of time and we can be most successful when we are proactive versus reactive.”

The team also works with transdisciplinary groups solely within the university and with individual researchers who are seeking awards in excess of $1 million.

Each member of the RDT works with different federal agencies. All three work with different sections of the National Science Foundation. In addition, Morris works with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Agency for International Development; Hales works with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of the Interior; and Young works with the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institutes of Health.

For contact information for the Research Development Team, go to http://www.depts.ttu.edu/vpr/rdt/index.php.

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Office of the Vice President for Research

The Office of the Vice President for Research is dedicated to developing new technologies for a better world. From the study of the smallest nanoparticles to comprehensive wind power systems, from research in autism and addiction, to our pioneering work in STEM education, our researchers are finding ways to solve problems, improve lives and find new solutions to the world’s critical needs.

The office has launched its communications efforts on , and YouTube, in order to build and better connect with the research community.

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