University Research: A Multifaceted Endeavor

The following commentary is part five of a six-part series featuring updates, national trends and personal perspectives from the University’s leadership team regarding the future of higher education and Michigan Tech. All questions or comments may be directed to the author of the article (ddreed@mtu.edu).    

Michigan Tech receives most of its research funding from the federal government. The federal research environment is challenging, with low and even declining funding rates, regulatory changes and the evolving federal budget climate, but Michigan Tech has managed to hold its own. Even in this difficult environment, in the last fiscal year Michigan Tech researchers achieved all-time highs in new sponsored awards ($63.5 million) and in research expenditures ($80.4 million). This was only possible through the outstanding creativity of our faculty and staff, a concentration on the development of outstanding proposals and a focus on areas where we can be recognized as one of the world’s leading institutions.

The campus developed these focus areas through the Tech Forward process last academic year. Several of the initiative areas include a significant research component. In particular, the Institute for Computing and Cybersystems (ICC, Tim Havens, director), the Health Research Institute (HRI, Caryn Heldt, director), and the Institute for Policy, Ethics, and Culture (IPEC, Jennifer Daryl Slack, director) were identified as highly exciting opportunities for future growth.  The Vice President for Research Office (VPR) is working with all three throughout this academic year to develop plans for continuing growth and eventual maturation as vibrant, self-supporting centers of scholarly activity.

Michigan Tech is well-positioned to reach $100 million in annual research expenditures within the next five years. To reach this will require continual work to improve the research environment on campus. There are several such initiatives underway this academic year:

  • Financial Services and Operations has removed the 3.5% annual administrative fee from all IRAD accounts, allowing all of these funds to be used to support and grow our research and graduate programs.

  • Our Shared Facilities were established five years ago. The associate vice president for research development is working with them to review their activities over the last five years and to formulate plans for their continued success and growth over the next five years.

  • Michigan Tech has made significant strides over the last few years in reducing the administrative workload associated with sponsored research activities. According to the Federal Demonstration Partnership’s 2012 and 2018 Faculty Workload Surveys, we have reduced the proportion of investigator’s research time spent on administrative tasks from more than 50% to 43%, below the national average of 44%. Many people in VPR and elsewhere on campus have worked to achieve this significant accomplishment. I think we can all agree, though, that there is still too much effort on administrative work when researcher’s efforts would be better spent on the creative activities involved in research and scholarship.  Thanks very much to all on campus who participated in the survey; the results shed light on a number of areas ripe for further process improvement, and we will prioritize and address them over the next few months and coming years.

  • Lastly, many of you may be aware that a number of cases have emerged nationally where university and other researchers have exhibited egregious behavior that has resulted in federal criminal charges of fraud and abuse. My understanding is that over 1,000 researchers across the country are under investigation. Many of these relate to failure to disclose financial conflicts of interest and also unfunded conflicts of commitment.  We expect there to be new federal requirements to change our disclosure practices at some point. In the meantime, it’s important for all to disclose any commitment and financial conflicts through our internal processes, as well as externally in technical reports and funding applications. When in doubt, the best practice is to disclose. 

In closing, I would again like to recognize the outstanding efforts of all members of the University community, including researchers and the personnel who support them, both centrally and in their units, in developing and supporting a vibrant and creative environment. This improves our educational activities and strengthens our ongoing research efforts. Michigan Tech is in a great position with our outstanding strengths in areas of state, national and international significance.  Through progress in the Tech Forward initiatives and continued growth in our research and graduate programs, we will continue to increase our contributions to areas of great societal need.

2019 W-2 and 1095-C Forms Preparation for Employees

All employees, especially those who will receive paper W-2 and 1095-C forms, are encouraged to review their addresses in Banweb. Paper W-2s and 1095-Cs will be mailed to the W-2 address on file, or if a W-2 address is not on file, forms will be sent to the Mailing address. If neither a W-2 or Mailing address is on file, forms will be sent to the Home address.

To view/update current addresses, navigate to the Personal Information tab in Banweb and select Update Address(es) and Phone(s). Follow directions to update an existing address or add a new address type. Paper forms will be mailed by January 31, 2020. Please note, requests for duplicate 2019 W-2s must be in writing and will be processed on or after February 15, 2020.

Employees who have not already done so are encouraged to consent to electronic delivery of their W-2 and 1095-C forms for these benefits:

  • Eliminate the chance that your forms and the sensitive information they contain will be lost or stolen during delivery
  •  Access your forms earlier
  • Access your forms at any time, from any device with internet service
  • Contribute to cost and natural resource savings (paper, printing and postage)

To consent to electronic delivery, navigate to the Employees tab in Banweb, select 'Tax Forms' and choose the 'Electronic Consent' link. Check the boxes to consent to receive your forms electronically and submit your request. Each year in January notifications will be sent via e-mail.

Please contact Payroll Services at payroll@mtu.edu or 7-2089 with questions regarding W-2s. Contact Benefit Services at benefits@mtu.edu or 97-2517 with questions regarding 1095-Cs.

Don't Cancel Class, Contact Career Services Instead

Are you going out of town or will you be unavailable for one of your scheduled classes? Career Services is here to help and we are happy to work with your class or student group while you are away.

We offer a variety of career-related topics such as resumes and cover letters, job search strategies, LinkedIn, succeeding as a professional, and networking tips. All of our presentations fit within class time frames. We ask that you make your request at least two weeks in advance.

When preparing your syllabus for next semester, keep us in mind. We’re happy to provide a career-focused topic in your absence. Visit our website for more information and a complete list of topics or contact Career Services with any questions.

Faculty Adoptions and Buyback

Starting the week of December 16, students will be able to sell their used textbooks back to the Campus Store. Our Buyback list is generated from adoptions submitted by faculty for Spring Term. To ensure our Spring Term booklist represents all course materials used for Spring, please be sure your books have been submitted. The more complete our list, the more likely students are able to get cash for their book.

Students typically receive 50 percent of the value of the book, putting money back into their pockets. Students can see the value of their book by visiting our website, and searching here.

Please ensure your book adoptions have been received by December 2 to be included in our Buyback event. You can submit your adoption here and review your submission here

There you will see the submission you've made as well as cost effective options such as Digital Copies (DC) that are available for students, often at a reduced rate. If you have any questions or would like to request the Campus Store have additional supplies available to students that are required for your course, please email Jennifer Cowan at the Campus Store.

Love, Lust and Myth: Eurydice Opens Wednesday in McArdle Theatre

Playwright Sarah Ruhl's version of the classic Greek mythological love story “Eurydice” presents an exploration of the nature of love set in a 20th Century reality. Come enjoy a surrealistic tale of love, lust and myth, with Tech Theatre as they present Eurydice at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday (Nov. 20-22) in the McArdle Theatre on the second floor of Walker.

According to director Roger Held, Eurydice is a play where "parable plays out in a mythical and surrealist dream world, policed by the Lord of the Underworld’s enforcers, The Stones. These mean creatures have the bite of Cerberus, the three headed-dog, and the cunning of Aesculus’ Furies from Greek Mythology. The Stones coerce the residents of the Underworld to remain the forgetful dead for memory is a function of life. The Surrealist dream world is manifest in the occasional verbal flights of mysterious imagery excavated from the mine of unconscious symbolism. Some passages of dialogue simply defy understanding but somehow allow Orpheus to journey magically through space and time.”

Tickets are on sale now; $15 for adults, $5 for youth, and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available by phone at 7-2073, online at mtu.edu/rozsa, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or the night of the show at the McArdle door, which opens one hour prior to performances.

This Week's C-Cubed Luncheons

Dining Services presents this week's C3 luncheons which will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday (Nov. 21/22) in the MUB Alumni Lounge. All faculty and staff, along with their guests, are invited.

The C3 lunch buffet menus are created by Executive Chef Eric Karvonen and prepared by Karvonen and his culinary team. As the name suggests, the meals are meant to foster conversation, community, and collegiality. Attendees may bring their lunch instead of purchasing the buffet. Fruit-infused water, coffee, tea, cookies, and fruit are available free to all attendees.

The buffet lunch is $12 per person. Cash, credit cards, and gift cards are accepted. Submit C-Cubed feedback here. To join the C-Cubed Google Group and receive weekly menus, email reservations-l@mtu.edu.

This week’s menus:

Thursday

  • African Beef Stew -GF
  • African Peanut Stew -V P
  • French Rolls Mango Cucumber Salad -GF V
  • Black-Eyed Pea Salad -GF V

Friday

  • Chicken Korma -GF
  • Vegetable Korma -GF V
  • Basmati Rice -GF VE
  • Boondi Raita -GF VE
  • Warm Flatbread -V
  • Vegetable Salad -GF VE

V- Vegetarian, VE-Vegan/Vegetarian, GF- Gluten-Free, P-Alternative Protein

ME-EM PhD Defense Tomorrow

Mechanical Engineering - Engineering Mechanics PhD student Zhuyong Yang will present his PhD Defense at 3 p.m. tomorrow (Nov. 20) in the R.L. Smith Building (MEEM) room 1021. The title of his defense is "Optimization and Comparison of Over-Expanded and Other High Efficiency Four-Stroke Spark-Ignited Boosted Engines."

Poster Design Workshop Today

Making a research poster for a conference or other event? This workshop covers basic tips and tricks for presenting your research and information in a visual format. We'll also look at resources and tools available at the library to help you design and print your poster.

Join us at 1:05 p.m. today (Nov. 19) in Library 244. Register here for the workshop.

Library & Research Refresher Workshop

The Van Pelt and Opie Library is hosting a workshop that will teach you how to get the most relevant materials you need for a research paper or project in less time by utilizing the databases, journals, and other materials we have to offer. We will cover services specific to Michigan Tech as well as a variety of searching techniques and strategies to help you get the most out of the library and your research, regardless of your discipline.

The workshop taks place at 5:05 p.m. to 5:55 p.m. tomorrow (Nov. 20) in Library 244. Register for the workshop here.

GSG Professional Development Workshop - Publishing Your Research

Join the Graduate Student Government for a professional development workshop designed to prepare you to navigate the publication process from 4 to 5:30 p.m. tomorrow (Nov. 20) in Admin 404. Many graduate students are unaware of the issues, complications, and amount of time involved in the publication process until they actually begin to prepare or submit a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

GSG is continuing its 2019 professional development series with a professional development workshop entitled “Publishing Your Research.” This workshop will consist of an informal panel discussion with on-campus journal contributors and reviewers. This is a fantastic opportunity to gain useful tips and advice regarding manuscript preparation and submission, publication timelines, and addressing reviewer comments.

This event is open to all graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Refreshments provided. Space is limited so be sure to register here for the event. 

In the News

Michigan Tech's chapter of the Society for Women and Engineering (SWE) held a "Think Like an Engineer" event on Saturday (Nov. 16). The story was covered by WLUC TV 6

The Marquette television station also covered snow-making and other preparations on Michigan Tech's Mont Ripley.

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 Gary Campbell (SBE), was mentioned in the article "Veterans meet for energy economy," in Dunya (Pakistan).

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Michigan Tech was mentioned in the article "A New Focus On Making Traverse City A HealthTech Hub," in The Ticker (Traverse City, Michigan).

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Michigan  Tech's Sustainability Demonstration House was featured in an article in the Daily Mining Gazette. Michigan Tech students Lexi Steve and Rose Turner were quoted in the story.

Reminders

ME-EM PhD Defense Today

Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics PhD student Kayla Riegner will present her PhD Defense at 1 p.m. today (Nov. 19) in the R.L Smith building (MEEM) room 908. The title of her defense is "Ground Vehicle Driving Aids: Assessing Driver Workload and Performance in Degraded Visual Environments."

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Faculty Cap and Gown Orders for Fall Commencement

The 2019 Fall Commencement Ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14 in the SDC Wood Gym. Faculty who need to purchase regalia should place their order online before noon tomorrow (Nov. 20) to guarantee delivery in time for Commencement.

If you have any questions, email capandgown@mtu.edu.

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MSE Seminar Today

The next Materials Science and Engineering seminar will take place at 11 a.m. today (Nov. 19) in M&M 610. PhD candidate Prasad Pramod Soman will present "Grain Boundary Chemistry Effects on Local Stress Relaxation."

Prasad is currently a fourth year PhD student and his work is focused on investigating the role of grain boundary geometry and chemistry in materials failure. 

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Concur Travel & P-card Expense Training

Financial Services and Operations will have converted 100% of University departments to the new Concur software by Nov. 28.

For departments that are LIVE in Concur, faculty and staff may join our November Training sessions. Seating limited to 60.

The two session times are:

  • Thursday (Nov. 21) at 2 to 4 p.m. in MUB Ballroom A2
  • Friday (Nov. 22) at 9 to 11 a.m. in MUB Ballroom B

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NSWC Crane Overview Today

Join the Great Lakes Research Center and the SENSE Enterprise in welcoming NSWC Crane to Michigan Tech. Alison F. Smith will present an "Overview of Strategic and Trusted Microelectronics Divisions of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane and A Colloidal Nanocrystal Approach to Fighting Counterfeit Products" from 4 to 5 p.m. today (Nov. 19), in Great Lakes Research Center Room 202. 

Notables

Bal Named to SAF National Board

Tara L. Bal (SFRES) has been elected as the incoming District 5 Representative to the Society of American Foresters (SAF) National Board of Directors. She will serve a three-year term starting January 1, 2020, representing SAF members in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.

SAF’s Board of Directors provides leadership and direction to SAF to ensure the achievement of its mission to advance the science, technology, education, and practice of forestry.