As we begin a new semester at UConn, I would like to reflect on our past academic year and share with you the excitement, successes, and progress we made in that time. As a public research university that engages globally in the creation of new knowledge, we measure our success by the impact of our scholarly and educational outcomes, research, innovation, and the creative work of our students and faculty. In the last few years, we have brought people together around shared goals across campuses and disciplines, an accomplishment that is palpable at UConn and has been critical to the success of our land-grant mission.
Our three consecutive years of growth in total awards have borne out the value of our collective efforts.
Thanks to the tireless work of our faculty, postdocs, students, and staff, our new extramural awards for FY19 reached a three-year high of $266.2M. In FY17, our total new awards were $184.5M and in FY18, they were $258M. UConn Health received over $100M in new awards this past fiscal year reaching an all-time high. Our combined efforts represent a 44% increase over three years. We also saw upward trends in our entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem, with a record 39 high-potential startup companies joining UConn’s Technology Incubation Program, and a ranking of 93rd worldwide in the number of US patents issued for UConn inventions. It is a matter of great satisfaction for me to have helped position entrepreneurship and innovation as an equal mission for our faculty alongside teaching, scholarship, research and creative work.
Our committed focus on seed funding, proof of concept grants, and awards to support the arts and humanities has contributed to STEM and non-STEM excellence. In FY19, our office contributed $2.3M to internal funding programs and an additional $100K to support grant writing workshops and resources. We are thrilled to see engagement, collaboration, and distinction from all areas of the University, whether it be STEM, non-STEM, or a collaborative hybrid, and that these combined efforts are producing growth in research and extramural awards.
I would like to highlight a few new initiatives launched by the OVPR in FY19 that supported faculty success:
- Convergence Awards for Research in Interdisciplinary Centers (CARIC): Support development of collaborative interdisciplinary teams to bid for major (>$5M) federally funded initiatives, such as research centers.
- Support of UConn Human Rights Institute with two postdoctoral fellowships in collaboration with the Schools of Engineering and Business.
- Program in Accelerated Therapeutics for Healthcare (PATH): In partnership with the Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine, aims to accelerate the translational pathway to convert discoveries into new medical therapeutics. The program seeks to quickly develop novel approaches focusing on well validated molecular targets for a specific disease area with an unmet treatment need in the current commercial marketplace.
- Scholarship and Collaboration in Humanities and Arts Research Program (SCHARP): In partnership with the Humanities Institute, SCHARP supports innovative works in scholarship and creative activities in the arts and humanities that have the potential to transform a field of study, impact the common good, or chart a new direction in scholarly, creative, or artistic direction.
- STEAM Innovation Grant: In partnership with the School of Fine Arts, STEAM encourages innovative collaborations between the arts and STEM disciplines. Projects funded by this grant may result in publications, exhibitions, performances, academic symposia, or other research outcomes.
- Stamford Innovate, a new internship program that connects talented UConn students with opportunities in startups in one of the fastest growing regions of the state.
If you want to learn more, click here for a full list of our internal funding programs.
As educators, we all take great pride in our students’ successes, and I wanted to take a moment to recognize some new student projects that are truly remarkable. In collaboration with the Office of the Provost, the OVPR supported a student-led podcast called In Vivo. With regular interviews about science, the arts, current events, and other topics, In Vivo highlights the amazing faculty, students, and staff that give UConn life. The show is conducted out of UConn’s WHUS studio and is run entirely by UConn students. Check it out and consider subscribing for future episodes to learn more about UConn researchers.
Another new initiative is World Poetry Books to support its mission of publishing and vigorously promoting a minimum of six books of exceptional poetry in translation each year. This support offers our students the opportunity to gain hands-on, professional publishing skills, and establishes UConn as home of a preeminent publisher of exceptional world literature.
While sharing accomplishments is important, we also want to increase transparency and continue to maintain open lines of communication as we push to raise UConn’s research profile. In addition to sharing research and tech transfer metrics on the recently revamped UConn Research website, we encourage faculty and staff to reach out with suggestions regarding new opportunities and unmet needs. It is only together – as a team – that we will continue to drive the growth of scholarship, research, and creative pursuits at UConn.
I’d like to conclude with a personal note of gratitude. I cannot thank all of you enough for giving me the opportunity to work with so many talented, hardworking, and committed colleagues. To my staff, I am deeply honored to serve as VPR and grateful for your support, continued improvement, and service to our faculty and students. At the end of a hard day, I find great inspiration in the knowledge that UConn’s faculty and staff – whether they be musicians, chemists, or scholars of law or other disciplines – are some of the world’s most innovative and active researchers. Thank you for making UConn a special place with a vibrant community of caring, collaborative people.
We are opening a new chapter for UConn with a new President who is focused on our excellence, strengths, and new opportunities. I look forward to this journey with all of you, and please remember my door is always open!
Dr. Radenka Maric
Vice President for Research, UConn/UConn Health