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TRANSFORMATIVE RESEARCH. Diane W. Husic Past-President, CUR Professor of Biological Sciences Moravian College Moses N.F. Lee Professor and Dean of Natural Sciences Hope College Silvia Ronco Program Officer Research Corporation for Science Advancement. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • TRANSFORMATIVE RESEARCHWorking with Undergraduates to Chart New Research ParadigmsDiane W. HusicPast-President, CURProfessor of Biological SciencesMoravian College

    Moses N.F. LeeProfessor and Dean of Natural SciencesHope College

    Silvia RoncoProgram OfficerResearch Corporation for Science Advancement

  • Why a discussion on Transformative Research? The first decade of the 21st century has been marked by a growing awareness of the fragile state of our economy, environment, public health and national securityall areas highly dependent on research and technology. Over the same period we have witnessed a degree of national anxiety regarding the strength of our countrys research enterprise, which underpins our ability to innovate and provide leadership in all those areas.

    Art Ellis, Vice Chancellor for Research In the Preface of the CUR Monograph Transformative Research at Predominately Undergraduate Institutions (2010) Karukstis, K.K. and Hensel, N., eds.

  • OverviewThe value of undergraduate researchThe changing nature of researchThe impetus for the 2009 CUR Summit on Transformative Research Key questions and findingsExamples and case studiesFunding transformative research (why and how)Discussion: Supporting transformative research on your campusesAn analysis of the environment for/status of TR on your campusesQuestions

  • The Value of Undergraduate Research For students For faculty For departments and campuses For the larger communityTransforming minds, campuses and communities

  • Value of Undergraduate Research for StudentsHigh impact practice for student engagement & learning

    Many of the benefits of undergraduate research are aligned with three of the essential learning outcomes espoused by AAC&Us LEAP campaignintellectual and practical skills, personal and social responsibility, and integrative and applied learning. It is these kinds of experiences that have the potential to transform the way students perceive and understand what they are learning and how it is applied in authentic, real-world situations.

    Elrod, S., Husic, D., and Kinzie, J. (2010) Research and Discovery Across the Curriulum, Peer Review 12: 4-8.

  • Value of Undergraduate Research for FacultyFaculty vitality Undergraduate research is beneficial to faculty. The fresh perspectives and questions from students can be productively challenging, and the research can provide a bridge between the two poles of publication and teaching. When working with undergraduates on research, theres no boundary between teaching and scientific exploration.

    Gentile, J.M. (2010) Science Education: The Value of Undergraduate Research (March 8, 2010 op-ed)

    Faculty will achieve most when their teaching has lively connections with their role as expert scholars

    American Council of Learned Societies (2007) Student Learning and Faculty Research: Connecting Teaching and Scholarship. A Teagle Foundation White Paper

  • The Value of Undergraduate Research For students For faculty For departments and campuses For the larger communityTransforming minds, campuses and communities

  • Value of Undergraduate Research for the Larger CommunityPublic good

    Higher education is a public goodthe teacher of youth, a creator of citizens, a birthplace of new ideas, discoveries, and creations, and an indispensable partner in the search for answers to societys most critical issues. It preserves the past and nurtures the future.

    Nancy Cantor, Chancellor and President, Syracuse University2007 address to the campus on the Expansive Mission of Higher Education

  • The Changing Nature of Research Use-inspiredAddressing social concerns, national needs and/or global challenges The quest for innovationNew research approaches and complex questionsNational competitiveness Interdisciplinary, collaborative teams The impact of information technologyMassive databases/data miningOnline access to primary literatureContinental scale projectsGlobal collaborations through social networking

  • The Changing Environment for ResearchIncreasing proposal pressure/Decreasing funds for researchIncreasing skepticism about scienceScience illiteracy and public skepticismQuestionable links between science and industry Tough economic timesWhat should be the funding priorities for higher ed?National calls for faculty to focus on teaching rather than researchDecreasing competitiveness of the U.S. in education, science, and technology

  • Background Why a summit on TR?2005 National Academies Report:Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future2007 America COMPETES ActNSF Director, Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr., Speech (January 2007):Transformative Research: The Artistry and Alchemy of the 21st Century"Texas Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science Fourth Annual Conference, Austin, TX2007 National Science Board Report: Enhancing Support of Transformative Research at the National Science Foundation -- Called for enhanced support of TR at the NSF

  • AAC&Us LEAP Initiative Liberal Education and Americas Promise (LEAP) is an initiative that champions the value of a liberal educationfor individual students and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality.

  • NSB & NSF Definition of TRTransformative research is defined as research driven by ideas that have the potential to radically change our understanding of an important existing scientific or engineering concept or leading to the creation of a new paradigm or field of science or engineering. Such research is also characterized by its challenge to current understanding or its pathway to new frontiers.

  • What is transformative research?Keywords usually related with transformative research:

    Highly innovativeHigh risk/high rewardCreativePioneeringCollaborativeInterdisciplinaryEarly Career FacultyImagination is more important than knowledge (Albert Einstein)

  • The importance of funding young scientists Scientific revolutions are often led by the youngest scientists .Youth and creativity have long been interwoven; as Samuel Johnson once said, Youth is the time of enterprise and hope. Unburdened by old habits and prejudices, a mind in fresh bloom is poised to see the world anew and come up with fresh innovationssolutions to problems that have sometimes eluded others for ages.

    Jonah Lehrer, Wall St. Journal 2/19/10

  • Background Why a summit on TR?Declines in funding rates with increased proposal pressure

    Revision of NSF Intellectual Merit criteria for grant proposals

    To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?

  • Background Why a summit on TR?Concerns within PUI community:Addition of words potentially transformative to intellectual merit criteria for NSF proposals didnt involve input from the PUI communityWould this additional criterion reduce the ability of PUIs to secure research funding?Not solely a PUI issue, but may disproportionally impact schools where the research infrastructure and rate of research progress can be quite different from that at R1 institutions.Growing gap between research and teaching resourcesGrowing knowledge gap between experts (researchers) and the public


  • CUR proposes a summit to discuss TR and PUIsNSF grantAdditional support from Research Corporation for Scientific AdvancementPetroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical SocietyParticipants: 28 faculty, administrators, foundations, individuals with program officer experience, and CUR leadership9 disciplines representedCongressional BriefingMonograph on TR (see )

  • Key Questions Discussed at the SummitCan TR be done at undergraduate institutions/with undergraduates?What are the challenges and opportunities?Should undergraduates and undergraduate institutions be involved in TR?Why should funding agencies support TR?Are there examples of TR being done at UG institutions/with UGs?How can we promote/support TR at PUIs?

  • Challenges to doing transformative research @ undergraduate institutions/with undergraduate studentsTime to think, mentor, innovateResearch often moves at a slower pace for a variety of reasonsFaculty are often isolated ...the only expert in subject X on campusResources; state-of-the art equipment

  • BUT

    Faculty at PUIs may have more flexibility to work on higher risk projects to work across disciplines arent necessarily responsible for graduate students or post-docs


    UG students dont know what they arentsupposed to know (vs. Narrowly trainedPh.D.s!)

    Cheaper than research at R1s

  • CUR Summit FindingsThere was universal agreement among summit participants that a goal of faculty members at PUIs is to conduct high-quality, original research.

    Emphasis on transformative research supports this expectation.

  • CUR Summit FindingsThere was agreement among summit participants that while teaching is of primary importance at PUIs, research can be a synergistic element to teaching.

    Research can inform teaching;Discussions of faculty research and the grand challenges in class can be engaging and intellectually stimulating for faculty and students;Experiential learning (through participation in research) can be transformative for students;An emphasis on TR can also be transformative for the science curricula Which, in turn, can help to attract the best and brightest students and prepare them to approach the complex problems facing the world.

  • From the Teagle Foundation White Paper (2007):Student Learning and Faculty Research: Connecting Teaching and


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