Three CFAES faculty members recently traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of the DC Days program. Created by the OARDC Director’s Office and CFAES’s Grant Development Support Unit, the program was designed to increase the competitiveness of grants submitted by emerging faculty researchers by providing them an opportunity to visit with a variety of federal agencies and program officers.
During these meetings, program officers and administrators were asked to give an overview of the agency’s mission, their approach to funding research, the submission process and peer review. Anticipated outcomes were that participants would learn more about structuring a research proposal to fit within the agency’s requirements and the importance of tailoring a basic research idea to meet the needs and priorities of the funding agency. There was also some basic training before the trip concerning how best to communicate with program officers and how to form professional connections.
Participants began at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where they were welcomed by Darrell Winner, senior science advisor in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, and received a comprehensive overview of EPA programming. EPA has six National Research Programs. Their mantra is “Researching a sustainable tomorrow today.” The afternoon was filled with a meeting at the National Science Foundation in which multiple program officers met with faculty. Of particular interest to our faculty was the encouragement of international collaboration within NSF.
On Day 2, we met at the U.S. Agency for International Development to hear about Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s initiative aimed at global hunger and food security. Through the initiative’s 24 Feed the Future Innovation Labs, over 70 colleges and universities, along with many partner-country research and educational institutions, are on the cutting edge of efforts to research, develop and take to scale safe and effective technologies that address current and future challenges posed by a changing climate and the need to feed a growing global population.
While visiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, faculty members were fortunate to be able to network with many national program leaders and to hear specifics on the six national challenge areas: Food Security, Climate Variability and Change, Water, Bioenergy, Childhood Obesity, and Food Safety.
A resounding theme among all funding agencies was the encouragement of faculty to participate in peer review panels in their desired area of discipline. This allows growth of the assistant professors on many levels and aids in competitive proposal development. Faculty returned feeling empowered to make use of the contacts they made and with a better sense of what might be successful at the individual agencies. It was also a chance to form professional relationships with other Ohio State faculty members and staff.
The faculty members chosen to participate in this program were selected from a pool of applicants. If you are interested in being part of the next trip, please watch your email for more information about the selection process. Contact the Grant Development Support Unit for more information.
Lori Kaser conducted a presentation on this program to the National Council of Research Administrations Region IV annual meeting on April 28 in Chicago.