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University Partnerships 2013 Year-in-Review

ORAU facilitates collaborative science and technology opportunities for universities and researchers

Andrea Rocha

Andrea Rocha uses her doctorate in engineering science to study microorganisms at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Because microorganisms are used in a variety of scientific and engineering applications like bioenergy production and environmental restoration, understanding more about them is key to maximizing their benefits to society. Photo credit: Lynn Freeny, DOE

The 2013 sequester has led to fewer federal research grants and reduced the number of fellowship opportunities for early-career scientists. Securing research funding and attracting students into scientific and technical fields has continued to be a challenge for universities as well.

To address this, ORAU’s University Partnerships Office provides its 109-member university consortium with varied opportunities for connecting university expertise with government agencies, research laboratories and private industries.

These opportunities include grants for faculty to travel to ORNL or another member university to collaborate with other scientists; grants to support conferences and workshops sponsored by member institutions; and research experiences provided by ORAU’s Science Education Programs to thousands of teachers and students each year.

Launching successful research careers through 20 years of Powe Awards

Brooke Crowley

Photo credit: Brooke Crowley, Ph.D.

ORAU’s Ralph E. Powe, Jr., Faculty Enhancement Awards have provided support to exceptional early- career faculty for more than 20 years. Brooke Crowley, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati, received a 2013 Powe Award. The grant assisted her research using stable isotope biogeochemistry to detect ecological differences among modern and extinct communities of mammals, including lemurs in Madagascar.

In 2013, ORAU also completed an online survey of 457 awardees from the past 20 years, of which 437 participated. The responses demonstrated long-term career success tied to winning the Powe award.

According to the study, 82 percent of Powe recipients remain at the university where the award was granted. When asked about the significance of winning a Powe Award, one respondent, Ryne Raffaelle, Ph.D., a 1994 Powe Award recipient and current VP for research at Rochester Institute of Technology, said, “I can’t overestimate how important it was to my career. It quite literally gave me my start. I was a national center director at a national lab and am now the VPR and associate provost at a great technical university, and I can trace it all back to my Powe award.”

For more information

Arlene Garrison
Vice President,
University Partnerships
Work: 865.576.6513

Finding ways to move innovation from the laboratory into business

Poster session during 2013 ORAU Board and Council Meeting

ORAU welcomed more than 100 representatives from ORAU member universities to the 68th Annual Meeting of the Council of Sponsoring Institutions in March 2013. The meeting focused on the process for moving innovation from laboratory settings into practice, including establishing intellectual property rights and patents and finding corporate partners as well as other aspects of effective business strategy. Experts and leaders from academia, government and private industry explored developing and implementing patent protections, marketing and licensing, and models of success, such as universities that have innovation hubs, during this two-day workshop.

Enhancing faculty and student research with High Performance Computing Grant

High-performance computing
Photo credit: ORNL

In FY13, ORAU completed an evaluation—through interviews and online surveys with university faculty and students and their ORNL collaborators—of the effectiveness of the ORAU/ORNL High Performance Computing (HPC) Grant Program. Results show the program is enhancing the development of the future workforce by providing real-world experiences for students. It has also succeeded in providing opportunities for ORAU’s member institutions to perform collaborative research with ORNL in scientific areas of discovery requiring HPC capabilities. As one faculty member stated, “This grant turned a good project into an outstanding project.”

Since the program’s beginnings in 2009, 12 grants totaling $700,000 have been awarded to 11 ORAU member institutions. The program’s key outcomes include a total of 10 joint proposals, 41 joint publications and the involvement of 30 students. Out of the 10 joint proposals, more than $930,000 in new funding has been generated.