Newsletter from CERD
Dean’s Corner for 2020 Special Edition
As I write this, I am finishing up my last few days as your full-time Associate Dean for Research; lots of transitions coming up! In these most unusual pandemic times, we are all dealing with lots of change and continuing uncertainty. I want to assure you that what will not change is the high quality of service our College R&D Office (CERD) staff provides and the commitment level from your Associate Dean for Research to advocate for and support your research efforts.
Permit me a few looks backward before we look forward. Four years ago we were just starting this experiment initiated by Dean Alexander, expanding significantly the CERD staff and support for our faculty researchers. The Associate Dean for Research %FTE expanded from a half- to full-time commitment. We added an Outreach Coordinator, the job description brilliantly defined by Amy Jurica Hinnant’s outstanding work, and a second proposal development officer to the CERD pre-award team. We weathered the growing pains of centralizing some business staff into the CERD post-award group; within 18 months we achieved the original vision of a cross-trained team who could flexibly triage work flows to respond quickly to high-demand needs of individual projects. [Kudos to Clayton Holle and Adriana Burnett for getting us here!] And it made great sense 18 months ago to transition the post-award office to work directly under Asst. Dean for Finance Suprena Bennett, who has also provided great support to me as research dean.
In FY 2018 we had a banner year for new external awards: some $39 million, nearly doubling our usual award levels. Much of this phenomenal bump was likely due to our department heads and Dean recruiting innovative and talented faculty to our ranks who produced very competitive proposals upon arrival, but our smart faculty already in the ranks here made serious contributions as well. Our challenge over the next 5 years is to support our hard-working faculty PI’s in their current research and in new funding applications so we can consistently achieve $30-40 million in new awards each year. I believe this is achievable.
Over the last several years, I’ve been working to strategically champion at the university level for the unique needs of our social science researchers as well as those of our Human Clinical Research Facility, the locus of nearly all biomedical human subjects research on the A&M campus. Our pre-award staff have worked hard in supporting your College Council of PI’s and numerous workshops and training opportunities for our faculty on top of their “day job” of proposal development and outreach. Last year our Research Leadership Development Fellow, Dr. Kimber Vannest, did a great job in organizing an IES Mock Review Panel, ably supported by several senior CEHD faculty with experience on or with IES panels.
And then the coronavirus found us. Work and personal life has changed radically these last three months and we are all striving to find a new equilibrium. Your College leadership team is frankly amazed and proud of how well our faculty and staff have stepped up to the enormous challenge, bringing innovative solutions to how we could keep our education, research and service missions moving forward. Yes, some activities have just had to be put on hold. We so look forward to when those can resume, but I’m sure we all recognize the need to thoughtfully weigh the risks and benefits of each new step forward towards a semblance of “normal”. Protecting the health and safety of our students, our research staff, and our faculty has to be job one.
The Dean has now named our new Associate Dean for Research. I have full confidence that Dr. Jeff Liew will provide thoughtful leadership supporting our college’s researchers and articulate advocacy for our College’s interests at University Research Council and beyond. Our pre-award team successfully recruited not just one but two highly experienced Research Development Officers, Jason Foley and Ann Savell, in January this year. Your college leadership team and Dean are now discussing some innovative ideas for replacing our recently departed Senior Research Development Officer, Jesús Palomo (now Director of Operations for the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s Associate VP for Research, Dr. Ken Ramos). With the dedicated professional staff on our CERD pre- and post-award teams, and the rock-solid support of our Dean for our College’s research mission, I believe our College researchers are in good hands.
A quick personal note: in a few more weeks I am relocating to Fort Collins, Colorado. I will continue to work 50%-time throughout June as your Acting Assoc. Dean for Research, covering basic research dean approval functions and assisting on these important return-to-research management plans. I am retaining a Research Professor appointment to continue work on some grant-funded projects, so you can continue to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your research dean these last four years. I wish you all the best in this extraordinary year coming up!
Saying Good Bye to Dr. Bloomfield
From Dr. Kay Wijekumar
As the first Associate Dean for Research in the College of Education and Human Development Sue Bloomfield was leading the way while building the road!! The first time I met Sue I thought she was totally a scientist with her keen focus, attention to detail, and calm demeanor. She had this way of looking at you as if she could see straight into your brain!
She was probably most surprised by my over exuberant engagement on the topic we were discussing. She had a way of staying calm, taking things step by step and then solving the problem. She came to understand the nature of school-based research and became a champion of our work. Over her successful tenure leading the CERD, I have come to appreciate her kindness, professionalism, attention to detail, and perseverance. On a side, I always loved hearing on the public radio station, KAMU, that Sue was an underwriter!
We will miss you Sue. We wish you a wonderful retirement and hope you will stay in touch.
Click on the Facebook link below to see images from the Farewell Parade for Dr. Bloomfield
Good Bye to Senior Research Officer Jesús Palomo
The CERD Office and College of Education and Human Development said good bye to our Senior Research Officer Jesús Palomo with a social distanced lunch at Willie’s Ice House and Grill and a small but mighty Drive-By Bye Bye for one of the best. Thanks Jesús! We wish you well at the Texas A&M Health Science Center as Director of Operations at the Associate VP for Reserach, Dr. Kenneth Ramos’ office.
Important Links for COVID-19 Updates
Each College is charged with providing explicit guidance on how our faculty PI’s can meet these guidelines. Below are links for your use in developing a return-to-research management plan that must be approved by your department head and then by the Research Dean in consultation with Asst. Dean Suprena Bennett, before your research team can return to active work on campus.