The office of the Senior Vice President for Research and Economic Development (SVPRED) announces an internal search for the Associate Vice President for Research. Appointment of the Associate Vice President for Research is a critical step for the office of the SVPRED as it embarks on efforts to significantly enhance Auburn’s research enterprise.
The individual selected will work closely with the SVPRED to facilitate efforts across the university that will lead to sustained growth in research and creative scholarship. In addition, they will provide support for the various offices within the research organization, and they will be expected to represent the SVPRED in research-related internal and external (state, national, and international) roles and functions as assigned. The specific distribution of responsibilities of the Associate Vice President will be determined based on the individual selected for the position. This position will have a renewable term of three years and serves at the pleasure of the Senior Vice President for Research and Economic Development.
- Rank of Professor with tenure
- At least three years of experience as a dean, associate dean, department chair or other comparable academic administrative role.
- Demonstrated leadership and management skills
- Demonstrated record of securing and successfully managing externally-sponsored research
- Excellent communication and team building skills
- Ability to obtain a DOD security clearance
- Excellent understanding of research and academic policies and procedures at Auburn University
- Extensive experience interfacing with and managing projects funded by federal agencies (NIH, NSF, USDA, DOD, etc.)
Example responsibilities may include but are not limited to:
- Promoting and developing interdisciplinary/collaborative/team-based research initiatives across campus.
- Working with the SVPRED to optimize research operations and structure, including the identification and implementation of best practices and technologies that will enhance research efficiency and productivity on the campus.
- Further defining and implementing a vision for strategic investment in research opportunities (federal and non-federal) that will leverage existing areas of expertise on the campus.
- Identifying strategic opportunities to improve proposal development and submission processes, contracting processes, and research integrity and compliance processes.
- Further defining, managing, and implementing best practices for administration of extramurally-funded projects.
- Assisting in identifying needs and developing strategies for university research facilities and related infrastructure.
- Further developing a culture of innovation at the university, supporting efforts to identify, develop and commercialize intellectual property developed from university-based research.
Applications for the position will be reviewed by the search committee who will make candidate recommendations to the Senior Vice President for Research and Economic Development. Applicants should submit a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, and the name/contact information for three references to the following link:
Review of applications for the position will begin September 18, 2023 and continue until the position is filled. Interested faculty are encouraged to submit their application as soon as conveniently possible.
Auburn University is an EEO/Vet/Disability Employer
Auburn University names Steve Taylor as the senior vice president for research and economic development
Steve Taylor has been named as Auburn University’s senior vice president for research and economic development, President Christopher B. Roberts announced today.
Taylor has served as the interim dean of Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering since April 2022. Taylor will begin his new position on June 1.
As Auburn’s chief research officer, Taylor will report directly to the president and be responsible for all aspects of research, scholarship and economic development across the university.
“One of my goals for Auburn is to further elevate our research and creative scholarship in order to secure and sustain a leadership position among the nation’s transformative universities,” Roberts said. “As I said at my installation ceremony, Auburn has earned the right to dream the biggest dreams. I know we have the ability and capability to do more. I look forward to working with Dr. Taylor as we thoughtfully expand our research enterprise.”
The senior vice president for research and economic development also serves as president of the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation and provides leadership to various research and economic development units, including sponsored programs, proposal services and faculty support, contracts and grants accounting, research compliance, the university veterinarian, research security compliance, electronic research administration, the IP exchange, external engagement and support and university-based start-ups.
“In my 34 years at Auburn, I have been able to work with others to build collaborative programs across the university,” Taylor said. “I am honored to have this opportunity to lead Auburn’s research programs by continuing to build those collaborative relationships and help secure the resources that faculty, staff and students need to be successful. I believe that the time is right for Auburn University to make major advances in its research and innovation enterprise while also serving our region as an important engine of economic development.”
Prior to serving as interim dean, Taylor served as the Ginn College of Engineering’s associate dean for research, the head of the Department of Biosystems Engineering, where he is a tenured professor, and the director of the Center for Bioenergy and Bioproducts.
As the Ginn College of Engineering’s associate dean for research, Taylor led significant growth in the college’s annual external funding that saw nearly $300 million in new research contracts awarded during the past five years. During this period, he facilitated the creation of the Auburn University Applied Research Institute and Auburn University Transportation Research Institute and he helped secure funding for several new research facilities such as Auburn’s Advanced Structural Engineering Laboratory. Additionally, he led the efforts to acquire and operationalize the university’s Research and Innovation Campus in Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park.
Taylor holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural engineering from the University of Florida and a doctorate in the same discipline from Texas A&M.
James Weyhenmeyer announced in February that he would step down from the vice president of research and economic development role to take his tenured professorship in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
“I want to thank Dr. Weyhenmeyer for his hard work and commitment to advancing Auburn’s research and economic development initiatives,” Roberts said. “I am incredibly grateful for Jim’s contributions.”
As previously announced, Mario Eden, the Joe T. and Billie Carole McMillan Professor and the chair of Auburn’s Department of Chemical Engineering, was named the dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering on April 14. Eden will begin his appointment on May 15.
Steve Taylor has been named as Auburn University’s senior vice president for research and economic development.
Electronic research administration system implementation updates issued by Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development
The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development recently announced the procurement of the Huron Research Suite to support and facilitate the research administration and compliance processes at Auburn University. Since then, we have executed the scope of work for the conflict of interest and IRB modules with starting dates of June 15 and July 1, 2023, respectively. We anticipate a “go-live” date for these two modules in early spring semester of 2024. The grants and agreements module (including proposal submissions) will begin onboarding in the fall with implementation for IACUC, animal operations and biosafety modules starting next summer.
Implementation of each module includes:
- Onboarding – in-depth administrator training on the system, gap analysis, establishment of milestones and deadlines, updating procedures and workflow
- Integration – preparing mock-ups and protoypes, defining security requirements, roles and responsibilities, finalizing the testing and training plans
- Testing – trying to “break the system” to address any problems before going live
- Deployment – migrating to a production environment – i.e. “go live”
- Support – trouble-shooting and closing out the implementation of the module.
The onboarding and process analysis team at Auburn has begun data and process clean-up while Huron has assigned a team to work with us. We are working on our communication plan and preparing for stakeholder focus group meetings. The IRB module team at Huron has been assigned, and the conflict of interest module team is being created. The ERA website (https://cws.auburn.edu/OVPR/pm/ERA) will continue to provide project updates as the system implementation process moves forward.
Beginning this fall, the Office of Inclusion and Diversity, or OID, will offer four grant programs to support individuals, groups and units working to promote Auburn University’s inclusion and diversity efforts.
Open to all members of the campus community; the competitive grants include the Inclusive Excellence Programming Grant, now in its second year, and three new grant opportunities: (1) the Employee Diversity Engagement Grant; (2) the Advancing Diversity Graduate Student Support Fund; and (3) the Office of Inclusion and Diversity Exploratory Research Grant.
“With these funding opportunities, OID is expanding its campus partners to advance our institution’s strategic goals and recognize the talents and energy of those across campus committed to our shared mission,” said Taffye Benson Clayton, associate provost and vice president for inclusion and diversity. “The most meaningful progress comes when we can support the members of our campus community by investing in their ideas.”
All four grants will support different subgroups at Auburn as they work to achieve strategic inclusion and diversity goals.
Inclusive Excellence Programming Grant
The Inclusive Excellence Programming Grant aids programs by funding new and innovative ways to support campus diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Last year, the program contributed more than $18,000 across nine impactful initiatives that assisted underrepresented students throughout Auburn’s campus. The first cycle of the Inclusive Excellence Programming Grant will open on Sept. 19 and provides similar opportunities.
Employee Diversity Engagement Grant
The Employee Diversity Engagement Grant is specifically designed to support the professional development of Auburn faculty and staff to advance their knowledge, skills and awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion. This program will support external professional development to enhance the depth and quality of learning experiences related to diversity, equity and inclusion. The Employee Diversity Engagement Grant will open in January 2023.
Advancing Diversity Graduate Student Support Fund
The Advancing Diversity Graduate Student Support Fund funds programs that support graduate students, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, to achieve their career goals and foster diversity education in their respective fields. The Advancing Diversity Graduate Student Support Fund will open on Sept. 19.
Office of Inclusion and Diversity Exploratory Research Grant
The Office of Inclusion and Diversity Exploratory Research Grant provides funding to support Auburn faculty members with their research and creative activities. These efforts address complex societal issues, such as justice and inclusion, for broader communities within their field, discipline or society. The grant funds will support the development of competitive proposals for external funding. Those interested in the Exploratory Research Grant should consider attending an interest session at 1 p.m. on Sept. 29 in Room 202 of the Academic Classroom and Laboratory Complex, or ACLC. The session will feature staff from OID and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. The Exploratory Grant Program will open on Sept. 22 via InfoReady. OID plans to fund at least 10 projects between $3,000 and $10,000. The request for proposals can be found at this link.
Members of the campus community interested in applying for any of the other three grants should consider attending an interest session on Sept. 14 at 2 p.m. in Room 2107 of the Melton Student Center. A registration link is available here.
Auburn Research magazine, the biannual publication highlighting Auburn University research and creative scholarship, was recognized with two awards in the recently announced 37th Educational Advertising Awards. The national competition recognizes “entrants whose programs and materials display exceptional quality, creativity and message effectiveness,” according to its website.
The print version of the fall/winter 2021 issue of the magazine received a top-level Gold award, and the online version of the publication was recognized with a Silver award. Previous issues of Auburn Research have received recognition in the competition, as well as honors from the American Advertising Federation. The magazine is a collaboration of Auburn's Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development and the Office of Communications and Marketing and is published in spring/summer and fall/winter issues.
Auburn Research magazine fall/winter 2021 cover featuring bird expert Dr. Geoff Hill
An internal search has been announced for the position of Associate Vice President for Research. Click here to learn more.
Auburn University launched two new pilot internal awards programs in 2021 and has named the program’s first recipients.
The Research Support Program, or RSP, and the Creative Work and Social Impact Scholarship Funding Program, or CWSI, were established by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. Both programs provide a competitive internal funding source to support faculty and to provide an opportunity for them to experience a small-scale pilot and refine their projects before competing for larger awards.
“This is a pilot version of a larger intramural award program,” said Bob Holm, associate director of Proposal Services and Faculty Support, the unit that administers the programs. “It enables faculty to participate in a competitive funding program and make improvements to their projects before a commitment to a long-term award program is made. The pilot provides a platform to test what works and what does not.”
The RSP is intended to be an annual cycle funding program to foster the development and growth of innovative and transformational research activities. It builds on faculty expertise, stimulates interdisciplinary collaborations and strengthens seed research activities. It is a strategically focused Auburn investment that promotes promising and impactful new lines of research as well as the growth of collaborative and interdisciplinary teams to build the foundations of science, to overcome scientific and societal challenges and to promote and enhance the quality of life and wellbeing of individuals, groups and communities.
The CWSIS funding program fosters innovation and discovery and builds faculty reputation and competitiveness. Examples of prestigious recognition for CWSIS include: the McArthur Genius Award, the Gates Foundation Award, appointment to the National Council on the Humanities or the National Council on the Arts and an NSF Senior Advisor for Public Access. Disciplines associated with CWSIS include design and the arts, humanities and applicable areas within business, education, social sciences and health and well-being.
As a form of research, creative work poses questions and searches for the answers through iterative processes that demand intellectual rigor and hard work. Related scholarship narrates, analyzes and evaluates the production and products of creative work, or proposes new and innovative approaches to that work, including interdisciplinary collaborations and explorations. The goals of creative work and scholarship are ultimately tied to making significant contributions to a meaningful and dignified quality of life.
Social impact scholarship involves research that is specifically aimed at societal challenges and values both theoretical and applied domains to produce core knowledge and address persistent and complex issues to create a better world and improve the lives of all individuals. Research in this domain often engages a diversity of stakeholders with the goal of bringing beneficial effects and valuable changes to the economy, society, education, public policy, health and quality of life.
This year’s recipients are:
Research Support Program
Brian Albanese, College of Liberal Arts, $24,999.34; “Neurobehavioral sensitivity to negative reinforcement in suicide”;
Benjamin Bush, College of Architecture, Design and Construction, $24,987; “EX4C: Next Generation Blood and Vaccine Transport for Combat, Austere and Challenging Environments”; co-investigators: Lorenzo Cremaschi, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; Joellen Sefton, College of Education; David Crumbley, School of Nursing;
Nathaniel Hardy, College of Agriculture, $25,000, “The Evolution of Virulence in Xylella fastidiosa”; co-investigator: Leonardo De La Fuente, College of Agriculture;
Amal Khalil Kaddoumi, Harrison School of Pharmacy, $25,000; “Amylin role in Alzheimer’s disease”; Co-Investigator: Ahmed Hamid, College of Sciences and Mathematics;
Peng Li, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, $25,000, “Probing Novel Quantum Phases in van der Waals Magnet Fe5GeTe2”; co-investigators: Masoud Mahjouri-Samani, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; Wencan Jin, College of Sciences and Mathematics;
Panagiotis Mistriotis, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, $25,000; “Bioengineering tools to uncover the mechanisms of human mesenchymal stem cell migration”;
Kristina Neely, College of Education, $25,000; “Inhibitory Motor Control in Adults with ADHD,” co-investigator: William Murrah, College of Education;
Janna Willoughby, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, $24,998; “How do environmental and genetic effects interact to determine individual fitness?”; co-investigators: Avril Harder, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; Lana Narine, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; Kelly Dunning, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.
Creative Work and Social Impact Scholarship Funding Program
Junshan Liu, College of Architecture, Design and Construction, $20,000; “Digitally Preserving and Re-presenting Alabama’s Rosenwald Schools”; co-investigators: Gorham Bird, College of Architecture, Design and Construction; Richard Burt, College of Architecture, Design and Construction;
Alicia Powers, College of Human Sciences, $19,191.92; “A clinical-community pediatric wellness initiative to manage and prevent cardiometabolic diseases in children with limited resources in Alabama”; co-investigators: Jeanna Sewell, Harrison School of Pharmacy; Felicia Tuggle, College of Liberal Arts, Sarah Watts, School of Nursing.
More information about these and other funding support programs supported by the AU Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development can be found by clicking here.
BY MITCH EMMONS
Sixty-three students took home awards for their research and creative scholarship posters and oral presentations during the recent, virtual “Auburn Research: 2021 Student Symposium.” Nearly 350 undergraduate and graduate students from Auburn and Auburn Montgomery participated in the annual symposium, which gives students an opportunity to share their work university-wide and with the general public.
Undergraduate Research Awards
The undergraduate first-place award in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics poster presentations went to Anna Solomonik of Drug Discovery and Development. Shalom Kim of AUM Chemistry and Biochemistry captured first place in the STEM oral presentations.
In the category for Human Sciences, Social Sciences, Creative Arts, Nursing and Humanities, Sally Ann Missildine of Interior Design won first place for her poster presentation, while Stanley Wijaya of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management took first in the oral presentations.
Graduate Research Awards
The graduate first-place winner for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics poster presentations was Manjusha Annaji of Pharmaceutical Sciences, while first place in the STEM oral presentations went to Kaelyn Fogelman of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences.
In the category for Human Sciences, Social Sciences, Creative Arts, Nursing and Humanities, Kassandra Ross of Consumer and Design Sciences won first place in the poster presentations, while Juliana Parma of Kinesiology captured first in the oral presentations.
College-specific awards were also presented for undergraduate and graduate student categories. A complete list of winners, as well as titles of their projects, is available on the “Auburn Research: 2021 Student Symposium” website.
Sixty-three students have won awards for their research presentations given during the Auburn Research: Student Symposium 2021 virtual event held March 29 through April 2.
Two Auburn University research projects have been awarded a share of $100,000 from the LAUNCH Fund for Research and Innovation, a university program designed to bridge the gap between innovative research and the marketplace. The winners were selected from among five faculty teams that competed in a recent multistage competition.
A team of veterinary and public health researchers received $70,000 to study the reliability of a breath test it developed for the noninvasive diagnosis of heartworm disease in dogs.
“Our team greatly appreciates the support from the LAUNCH funding program, which will help us to robustly evaluate this novel technology in dogs for the diagnosis of heartworms,” said Assistant Professor Lindsay Starkey of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Pathobiology. “We also hope to look at the potential for this diagnostic to be used for other diseases in other species in the future.”
Fellow team members include Professor Byron Blagburn, also of the Department of Pathobiology; Associate Professor Sarah Zhody, a vector-borne disease expert from the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences who recently transitioned from Auburn to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta; and Melissa Boersma, an analytical chemist and director of Auburn’s Mass Spectrometry Lab in the College of Sciences and Mathematics.
The test uses a chemical fingerprint found in a dog’s breath to determine if the dog is infected with heartworms. The researchers say initial results are encouraging and that LAUNCH funding will allow the team to fully establish the reliability of the test in dogs of different breeds, diets and backgrounds.
A final version of the technology could be similar to a breathalyzer for dogs, avoiding the need for drawing blood and possibly detecting the presence of heartworm earlier than current blood-based tests. This noninvasive approach to testing dogs could change the $1 billion heartworm testing market by expanding testing, as well as improving both safety and convenience for pets and veterinarians, according to the researchers.
Professor Kathy Lawrence and Research Associate John McInroy of the College of Agriculture’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology were awarded $30,000 to identify bacterial strains that could assist in expanding available farmland to include soils currently too salty and to increase drought tolerance of crops and grasses during changing climate.
Their project will expand Auburn’s probiotic libraries, isolate and study bacteria present in extreme conditions and identify microbes that will aid plant growth. It builds upon the successful commercialization of other libraries of bacterial strains assembled by Joseph Kloepper, professor emeritus of plant pathology, and Lawrence.
Established in 2015 by the Auburn University Research and Economic Development Advisory Board, the LAUNCH Fund was created with the support of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development as part of a commitment to advance entrepreneurship among Auburn’s research faculty.
Fund recipients have access to expert resources in Auburn Research Park’s New Venture Accelerator for startup advice and to the professional staff of the Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization for help in devising pathways to commercialization.
“The LAUNCH program is designed to be a catalyst to push forward promising technologies to the commercialization stage and provide critical solutions to global problems,” said Cary Chandler, director of the LAUNCH program and senior director of the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation. “The awardees this year are great examples of that in action.
“It is essential to our land-grant mission that we make investments in research and take it to market to provide real-world solutions and create jobs. Our goal is to find a way to increase the funding and frequency for this program to increase its success.”
More information about how Auburn supports experts through LAUNCH is available on the LAUNCH website.
BY LESLIE CHAPMAN
For university researchers who have or may have developed a patentable invention or copyrightable material, the Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization, or IAC, is here to support advancing that innovation towards the market. To help innovators better understand the commercialization process, IAC has released a video that outlines the basic steps from conception to licensing.
To access the video, click here.
Contact Brian Wright, director for commercialization, if you have any questions or if you have an innovation you'd like to submit.
Submitted by: Brian Wright
IRB COVID-19 Guidance
March 31, 2020
Investigators conducting human subjects research must consider the risk(s) to participants within the current COVID-19 environment. Risk of exposure to COVID-19 resulting from participation in human research may arise when research procedures include face-to-face interactions with participants, physical presence of participants on Auburn University campus or research site, or other scenarios. Investigators are encouraged, as appropriate to meet research objectives, to consider replacing in-person activities with remote activities, technology-assisted participant interactions, or other methods to reduce the risk of participant exposure to COVID-19.
Investigators with active IRB protocols and those that are submitting new applications to the IRB may need to submit modifications to approved protocols and/or provide additional information related to the current COVID-19 environment.
Investigators should monitor the Human Subjects What’s New webpage for updates.
Bill Dean, a veteran financial and research park executive with more than three decades of experience in developing innovative ideas for research parks, life science parks and biotech incubators, has been selected after a national search as the executive director of the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation, effective April 6.
Dean is a past president of the Association of University Research Parks, former director of both Cummings Research Park in Huntsville, Alabama, and the Piedmont Triad Research Park (Innovation Quarter) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and was the first chairman of the North Carolina Research Parks Network.
“Bill has a demonstrated track record of success in the innovation and idea spaces that are our nation’s research parks,” said James Weyhenmeyer, Auburn University vice president for research and economic development.
“Under his leadership, I am confident that the growth we are seeing both in Auburn Research Park and at the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation will continue and will evolve to meet the complex needs of our institution’s stakeholders and partners. Bill has both the passion and skill for linking science and business in ways that serve to drive our economy forward and improve quality of life in Alabama and beyond.”
Dean is a graduate of the University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in banking and finance. Additionally, he is an alumnus of the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University. Among his many honors, he is the recipient of the Triad Region Biotech Community Leadership Excellence Award from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, as well as the Career Achievement Award of Excellence from the Association of University Research Parks.
“My interest over the course of my career has been at the intersection of business and technology, working with those who innovate, collaborate and create new, world-changing technologies,” Dean said. “The Auburn Research and Technology Foundation is central to the university’s innovation ecosystem of leading technologies and I look forward to being a part of their many resources shaping our technology future into economic opportunities that can solve societal issues.”
In addition to his work with the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation, Dean will also serve as the executive director of the Office of External Engagement and Support, a division of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.
BY LESLIE CHAPMAN
Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization ready to assist AU innovators with IP, commercialization, startups
Dear Auburn Innovators,
During this unprecedented and transformational time, I am writing on behalf of Auburn’s Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization to let you know that we are here for you, ready and able to support your intellectual property, commercialization and startup needs with our full suite of services. Fortunately, we are able to operate remotely. We use market research, patent research, project and data management and communication tools that are online and cloud-based, allowing us to be as flexible as we need to be during this time.
As an Auburn innovator, you may find that this period of alternate operations creates an opportunity to revisit any invention disclosure you may be considering or may have started previously using our innovator portal. If you are not familiar with it, the portal allows researchers to submit online intellectual property disclosure forms and make requests for material transfer agreements through a secure portal. Researchers can also use the portal to access current summaries and statuses of their intellectual property, agreements, patents and patent applications, and contact information.
We continue to conduct our full intellectual property (IP) evaluation and market assessment and are available to meet with you virtually to receive your feedback and move forward with protecting your discovery. In this week alone we have filed two provisional patents, both related to COVID-19.
In keeping with our recent practice of having on-campus office hours in specific colleges and schools across the university, we plan to transition these to online office hours, available to all units but with a rotating focus on various colleges, schools and departments.
The Office of Innovation, Advancement and Commercialization is ready to support your commercialization needs and hope that we can take advantage of this time to move your ideas forward.
Thanks for working with us,
Jan D. Thornton, JD, MBA, CLP
Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization
March 20, 2020
Given the current issues surrounding COVID-19, we wanted to provide a brief update in relation to the charging of salaries/fringe benefits to grants/contracts.
As the University remains operational, for all grants/contracts in which project-related activities continue without disruption, all applicable salaries/fringe benefits should continue to be charged accordingly.
As a reminder, if you are the principal investigator of a grant/contract and you anticipate that your deliverables will be delayed by offsite work or staff disruptions, please contact your program officer or technical point of contact immediately to let them know of your work plan adjustments and copy the Office of Sponsored Programs (firstname.lastname@example.org) on the communication. The appropriate OSP Contract Administrator will be made aware of the notice.
Currently, there remains uncertainty related to what federal agencies will be allowing in regard to the charging of salaries/fringe benefits to sponsored programs for which a disruption causes effort to be curtailed, however the Office of Management and Budget has released OMB Memo M-20-11 (“Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus”) and OMB Memo M-20-17 (“Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) due to Loss of Operations”) with the intention of providing flexibility to federal agencies in their application of 2 CFR 200. Note that this is not direct guidance to recipients of federal financial assistance.
Currently, NIH is the only agency that has publicly announced their intent to incorporate this flexibility via NOT-OD-20-086:
Cost Related Flexibilities/Expenditure of Award Funds - Salaries:
NIH understands that many researchers may be unable to work as a result of or related to the effects of COVID-19. If a recipient organization’s policy allows for the charging of salaries and benefits during periods when no work is performed due to the effect of COVID-19, regardless of the funding source, including Federal and non-Federal, then such charges to NIH grant awards will be allowable.
Reminder: NIH awarding Institutes/Centers (ICs) may request documentation to confirm the requirements of institutional policies.
At this time, the Department of Defense will only allow recipients to charge salaries and benefits to currently active awards for work actually performed to meet the project activities, regardless of the location where those duties are performed (i.e., telework eligible). Some allowable activities may include -- e.g., data analysis, preparation of articles and papers based on the analysis of the research findings, monitoring subrecipients, care of research animals, direct charged administrative costs, etc.
If agency-specific guidance has not been issued salaries should be charged to unrestricted funds until further clarification is issued. If salary/wage transfers are appropriate at a later date, CGA will waive the 90-day transfer deadline, given the extraordinary circumstances.
A matrix is being developed to reflect agency guidance related to salaries as information is released. This document will be shared as more agencies provide their plan. In addition, sponsor information related to COVID-19 (deadline extensions, contact information, administrative guidance) is being shared via the OVPRED website (COVID -19 Information Received from Sponsors). For more information, visit the university’s COVID-19 information page and sign up for daily email updates.
James Weyhenmeyer, PhD
Vice President for Research and Economic Development
Auburn University researchers,
As you have seen in recent communications from senior leadership, in an effort to maintain the health and well-being of students and university personnel as the coronavirus (COVID-19) has entered the state of Alabama, Auburn has transitioned to a model of remote instruction and—as much as possible—a remote work environment for employees, through April 10. Accordingly, this message is to provide guidance on how these changes will impact research operations during this time period. We would like to emphasize that most of our current operations are electronic and we do not expect any disruption in our operations. While much of our work through April 10 will be conducted remotely, we will work to ensure that deadlines will be met.
Principal investigators should develop plans for their research activities that are consistent with Auburn University’s plan of action.
- Stay in communication with all research and laboratory staff. We suggest creating an emergency call or contact list that includes all members of your research team, designating a specific point of contact for all research-related activities.
- Identify essential research operations and who will be responsible for performing essential activities (including back-up plans as appropriate).
- Identify research functions that can be performed remotely. Remote work time could be used for preparing manuscripts, proposals, literature reviews, etc.
- Consider what resources are needed for ongoing experiments and whether to adjust orders and/or related needs to maintain continuity of research operations.
- For regulatory approvals that may expire soon, contact the appropriate office to request an extension, if needed.
- Consider shutting down non-essential equipment that will not be damaged by shutdown or that requires reagents where supplies may not be readily available. Plan for maintenance of equipment and disinfection of laboratory surfaces and equipment to protect research personnel (for laboratories that must remain open).
Additional Research Continuity Guidance:
Research Integrity activities are expected to continue without disruption.
The IBC, IRB, and IACUC will continue regular operations to the extent possible.
Based on concerns related to COVID-19, regulatory oversight agencies have issued statements that in-person compliance committee meetings may be supplemented or replaced with remote technology-assisted voice or video conferences. Such options will be made available for compliance committee meetings during this time.
Compliance checks for sponsored projects are expected to continue without disruption.
Principal investigators on IRB protocols are encouraged to submit renewal requests as early as possible to allow adequate time for processing and review.
Principal investigators on IRB protocols desiring to amend procedures to address concerns or challenges related to the current environment will need to submit a request for protocol modification.
Sponsored Programs (OSP, CGA, PSFS)
If you are planning to submit a proposal, the appropriate College-level designee or OSP Contract Administrator will continue to the best of their ability to submit proposals even if personnel are working from a remote location. All new applications should go through the usual review process including the routing of the e-Cover Form (note that e-CF creation/review/approval from off-campus will require VPN). Agencies may be flexible about deadlines under difficult circumstances beyond our control. However, if agencies are officially closed, proposals will likely remain in queue, pending resumption of agency operations. You should move forward to submit by the published deadline regardless.
Support from staff in Proposal Services & Faculty Support (proposal development assistance, funding searches/PIVOT support, etc.) will continue to be available as long as the university is officially open and operational. If a closure occurs, all attempts to work remotely will be utilized to the best of our ability.
Contract/grant negotiations, processing of awards, modifications and subcontracts, account set-up and other post-award actions will continue without disruption as long as the university is officially open and operational. As necessary, all attempts to work remotely will be utilized.
If you are the principal investigator of a grant/contract and you anticipate that your deliverables will be delayed by offsite work or staff disruptions, please contact your program officer or technical point of contact immediately to let them know of your work plan adjustments and copy the Office of Sponsored Programs (email@example.com) on the communication. The appropriate OSP contract administrator will be made aware of the notice. Additionally, please prepare a brief explanation of the delay for your next progress report. The explanation should outline the alternative work completed and your plan for accomplishing the original deliverables. For non-federal sponsors (industry, state, other), this contact will be critical as there is less likely to be information shared directly by them during this time (similar to the notices being released by federal agencies).
As we hear from sponsors on any special considerations and allowable deviations on current grants and contracts, we will post these updates to the following link. Federal agencies are aware of the current challenges and the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) has developed a repository for both specific agency guidance (as it becomes available) and institutional guidance on mitigating the impacts to research. COGR has also released an FAQ document regarding COVID-19’s impact on federal awards.
Risk Management and Safety (RMS)
RMS will continue to offer the following mission-critical support functions for research, although staff will primarily be working remotely:
- safety and health consultation
- emergency response
- radioisotope delivery
- regulated waste management
- testing and certification of critical lab equipment (safety showers, fume hoods, biological safety cabinets)
- protocol review
- communications and interactions with regulatory agencies
Noncritical functions such as laboratory inspections and in-person training will be postponed until further notice, although training and meetings may still be conducted remotely to the extent feasible.
Auburn University Libraries' three buildings will be closed to the public. This includes Ralph Brown Draughon Library, the Library of Architecture, Design, & Construction and the Cary Veterinarian Medical Library.
However, the Libraries' faculty and staff will work to meet your teaching and research needs as best they can and to make access to library resources as seamless as possible.
- Electronic resources including subscription databases and e-books will be accessible.
- Research and Instruction services via Zoom will be available.
- If you don't find the information that you're looking for on this guide, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 334-844-1737 during regular university business hours.
Currently, all university travel, both domestic and international, is suspended through April 10. For updates, see https://ocm.auburn.edu/news/coronavirus/.
For additional information on appropriate hygiene and workplace safety, see the CDC’s COVID-19 safety guidance.
Updates specific to the research enterprise will be posted, when needed, at research.auburn.edu.
For university-wide updates related to COVID-19, visit https://ocm.auburn.edu/news/coronavirus/.
Contacts for questions or concerns:
- Sponsored Programs (OSP, PSFS): email@example.com
- Contracts & Grants Accounting: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Animal Care: email@example.com
- Human Subjects: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Research Compliance: email@example.com
- Risk Management and Safety: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Libraries: email@example.com
- VPRED: firstname.lastname@example.org
James Weyhenmeyer, PhD
Vice President for Research and Economic Development
202 Samford Hall
Auburn University, AL 36849
Phone: (334) 844-4784
Auburn University names Vice President for Research James Weyhenmeyer to advance university’s research initiatives
James “Jim” Weyhenmeyer has been named Auburn University’s new vice president for research, effective April 1. He joins Auburn from Georgia State University, where he has served as vice president for research and economic development and as chair of the Research Foundation board of directors since 2011.
“Auburn is committed to delivering useful solutions that make a meaningful impact on our world. Jim’s deep knowledge of the intersection of academic discovery and economic development will propel Auburn to even greater heights as a world-class research and partnership university,” said President Steven Leath.
In Weyhenmeyer, Auburn gains an accomplished administrator with demonstrated success in advancing university-based research programs and interdisciplinary initiatives. With considerable experience building collaborative research and academic partnerships, Weyhenmeyer will work to expand Auburn’s competitive scholarly portfolio and strengthen the institution’s research enterprise at the state, national and international levels.
Reporting to Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Bill Hardgrave, Weyhenmeyer will oversee various administrative research units, including sponsored programs, proposal services, faculty support, research compliance, the university veterinarian and electronic research administration. Weyhenmeyer will also work with key university units including the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Office of the Vice President for Economic Development and Industry Relations, the colleges and schools and existing research centers and institutes.
“I am excited to join the Auburn community and support this extraordinary university as it continues to expand its research enterprise,” said Weyhenmeyer. “I look forward to working with faculty, researchers, staff and students as they study and innovate around many of the most challenging and important problems of the 21st century.”
Georgia State is recognized as one of the nation’s largest and most diverse R1 universities, and Weyhenmeyer has advanced that institution’s role as a comprehensive urban research university by strategically aligning its research assets with industry needs and resources in the metro Atlanta area. Working with faculty and industry partners, Weyhenmeyer established new interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary centers and institutes designed to promote a broad range of scholarly interests and expand economic development. Under his direction, Georgia State research expenditures more than tripled and the ratio of federal to nonfederal funding doubled while industry-sponsored research increased by almost 300 percent. In addition to directing university research activities, Weyhenmeyer also oversaw Georgia State’s information technology infrastructure that provides technology solutions to the institution’s teaching, research and business operations.
Prior to Georgia State, Weyhenmeyer held several senior-level appointments including serving as the senior vice provost for research and economic development at the State University of New York and was the senior vice president of the State University of New York Research Foundation from 2008-2011. In this role, Weyhenmeyer oversaw the research portfolio and technology commercialization programs for the system’s 64 campuses and expanded the system’s network of internal stakeholders, funding agencies and industry partners. During his time at the State University of New York, research expenditures increased from $900 million to more than $1.3 billion.
Weyhenmeyer also served as the associate vice president for economic development and corporate relations and vice president for technology and economic development at the University of Illinois. Focusing on large-scale research projects, Weyhenmeyer expanded the university’s investment in its research initiatives and increased its expenditures to nearly $1 billion. During that time, Weyhenmeyer also founded and served as CEO of Illinois VENTURES, an early-stage investment firm focused on helping entrepreneurs and researchers build innovative technology- and science-based companies.
A noted researcher in the fields of cell biology and neuroscience, Weyhenmeyer has published extensively on degenerative brain disorders. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the American Heart Association and the PHARMA Foundation, as well as private industries. In addition to serving on scientific advisory boards for companies in the gene technology and drug development sectors, Weyhenmeyer is a member of more than two dozen professional organizations and honorary societies, including the Licensing Executive Society, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, the American Heart Association Stroke Council and the University Industry Demonstration Partnership, among others.
Weyhenmeyer received a bachelor’s degree from Knox College and a doctorate from Indiana University. He completed his postdoctoral training in the Department of Medicine and Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Iowa.
Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.
James “Jim” Weyhenmeyer has been named Auburn University’s new vice president for research, effective April 1.
By John M. Mason Jr., vice president for research and economic development at Auburn University and president of the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation.
The state of Alabama has welcomed and benefited from new industries over the decades and now looks forward to the knowledge-based economy of tomorrow. To maximize our potential, it's incumbent that we invest in our workforce and nurture government, business and industry partnerships, especially those in sectors building upon advanced technologies and new ideas.
For many years, state and local economic development programs relied on offering tax breaks and other incentives in a sort of arms race to see who could give the most generous package. While financial incentives have their place, our future as local communities and as a state rests on enhancing investments in three economic pillars--a trained workforce, new technologies and entrepreneurship-- as the recipe for a sustained, secure and prosperous future.
Invest in our workforce
The immense ability of our state's educational institutions to provide impactful research and a workforce able to fulfill the promise of next-generation technologies is undeniable and appealing, nationally and globally. More strategically focused partnerships among four-year universities and the Alabama Community College System will ensure we can supply high-tech companies with a talented workforce.
Technical institutes offering credentialing and certificate programs in partnership with higher education represent another avenue. For example, the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation is working with the City of Auburn, Auburn University, the Alabama Community College System and commercial partners on creating technology credentialing, training and research and development in emerging manufacturing technologies, advanced computer numeric control operations and tool and die design. The goal is an advanced workforce capable of meeting the increasing technological needs of current industries in the state and others considering locating here where industry startup training is an attractive incentive.
Bringing more industry and training to all parts of Alabama will help communities move forward. An educated, highly capable workforce will propel our efforts to attract knowledge-based industries and enhance those already in the state.
Invest in knowledge-based technology
Our nation is looking for next-generation technologies in areas like sensitive cyber security, additive manufacturing, health sciences, military defense, agriculture and bioscience systems, robotics and radio frequency identification. Knowledge-based industries in these associated fields represent the type of companies that will stay in the U.S. to better protect their respective proprietary and intellectual property.
An excellent tool for recruiting industries of the future and expanding existing ones is the Alabama Science and Technology Roadmap, developed as part of Accelerate Alabama 2.0, which updates the state's strategic economic development growth plans. It identifies science and technology capabilities at Alabama universities and research institutes and matches this expertise to targeted business sectors. This will help enhance and expand Alabama's infrastructure and resources needed to ensure the state is nationally and internationally competitive.
Auburn, like many state institutions, focuses on knowledge-based technologies. We collaborate with partners such as GE Aviation, which brought high-volume additive manufacturing to its facility in the City of Auburn, and the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, working with our College of Veterinary Medicine and others to identify genes associated with cancer, cardiovascular diseases and obesity. On campus, our Samuel Ginn College of Engineering is tasked with helping protect the cyber security of our nation's infrastructure through the Charles D. McCrary Institute, founded through an Alabama Power Foundation donation in honor of its former CEO and an Auburn alumnus.
Invest in our entrepreneurs
Supporting an idea that seemed far-fetched a few years ago could lead to an industry of the future. A community will thrive with entrepreneurs and a collection of small, knowledge-based companies, each with 25 to 100 well-paying jobs.
An exemplary program is Alabama Launchpad, part of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, that promotes and rewards high-growth, innovative startup companies from across Alabama. The competition is for startups that need additional capital to launch their business as they compete for cash grants.
At Auburn we have created LAUNCH to help faculty bridge the gap between innovative research and the marketplace. One project that could impact the healthcare industry involves the production of antimicrobial wound dressings with the hope of reducing the occurrence of dangerous infections and enhancing wound healing. This spring, our Raymond J. Harbert College of Business will host its third annual Entrepreneur Summit March 30-31 featuring the Tiger Cage competition, similar to ABC's popular "Shark Tank" show, for student entrepreneurs.
Providing more opportunities at the state and local levels will help attract and empower startup companies.
Auburn and its partners work diligently to strategically position our community and state for growth in the knowledge-based economy of tomorrow. Our local partnership received accolades in a recent Wall Street Journal article spotlighting college towns and their economic resilience to overcome job losses from vanishing industries and overseas competition.
Collaboration on knowledge-based technologies among four-year universities, community colleges, government officials, local authorities and industry partners will usher in the next phase of economic growth and innovation in Alabama.
Despite her nearly 27 years of dedicated service to Auburn University, Martha Taylor didn’t see this coming.
“I was totally shocked—I mean, absolutely, totally shocked,” she said after being honored recently with the university’s Administrative/Professional Employee of the Year award.
But those who know Taylor well were not so surprised to see her receive this recognition. “I think it was well-deserved,” said Tony Ventimiglia, director of Proposal Services and Faculty Support, who has worked with Taylor for 17 years. Describing her as “determined, committed, and knowledgeable,” he added that the award highlights both Taylor’s years of service and the importance of her duties, which benefit the entire research enterprise.
John Mason, vice president for research and economic development, agreed: “We are all very pleased that Martha Taylor has been selected for this most noteworthy recognition. Martha consistently strives to provide guidance and solutions that directly assist Auburn University’s researchers, while simultaneously meeting the complex contracting requirements of external sponsors, as well as state and federal agencies.”
In her current role as assistant vice president for research, Taylor works closely with stakeholders in all areas of Auburn’s research enterprise, and she is quick to share credit for the award with others. “The team of people that are in Sponsored Programs and [Research] Compliance, that I work with closely, are amazing. They are just amazing people… And they’re as much friends as they are workers and colleagues,” Taylor said.
Initially hired as a sponsored programs database consultant in 1989, Taylor was soon promoted to a permanent position as assistant director of Sponsored Programs, followed by further leadership roles as the office’s director and, since 2004, assistant vice president for the research division.
From an office in Samford Hall, which has been Taylor’s “home base” for all of her Auburn career, she reflected on the changes and highlights of her nearly three decades on the plains. Noting that work in the sponsored programs and research compliance areas offers “something new and different every day,” Taylor explained that while people have come and gone over the years, certain aspects of the university have held steady over time.
In particular, she mentioned the consistency of Auburn’s strong research portfolio, as well as the simple beauty of campus as seen from Auburn’s signature administrative building, Samford Hall. “Samford Park is truly a park… It’s just a really special place,” she said.
Peppering the conversation with humor, Taylor went on to reveal one of her leadership secrets: “It’s a highly stressful environment… And if you cut up a little bit and play a little bit, then it relieves some of that stress, and I think that’s important.” To elaborate, she recalled one of her favorite Auburn memories, an April Fool’s prank that her staff played on her.
“I had a lot on my plate. And I got an email saying [a staff member] was going to be out that afternoon, that he had to meet with his tax accountant… Well, a few minutes later, I got a note from somebody else saying they were going to be out because they had a doctor’s appointment. And this went on throughout the whole day. When I came back from lunch, no one was around… I was so mad. I had a list of things to do. We were busy, busy, busy. How could they possibly all leave?
“And I went in the conference room, and they were all hiding in the closet, laughing… I actually thought it was a pretty good idea. It was really funny, once I calmed down.”
But all joking aside, Martha Taylor remains grateful for the opportunities that Auburn University has afforded her. “I enjoy being a part of a large organization, doing things that are helpful for people,” she said. “Auburn has given me opportunities galore to do what I wanted… in a field that I love, that I think is really interesting and really important.”
Reflecting on the positive impact of Auburn’s research and outreach projects, Taylor noted that she enjoys being a part of that work, “even if it’s just a tiny part.”
With a smile she added, “Auburn’s an amazing place.”
by JONATHAN CULLUM