Message from the Vice President for Research and for National Laboratories
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Welcome to the annual report of the Office of the Vice President for Research and for National Laboratories for Fiscal Year 2011. Our office made much progress in the areas of research, research administration and development, research computing, tech transfer, and stewardship of Argonne and Fermilab last year.
$444 million in sponsored research funding was received by the University in 2011 supporting ground-breaking research and scholarship that improves lives, creates new knowledge and opens up new fields of discovery. Major achievements include the completion of the 21-volume Chicago Assyrian Dictionary; breakthrough studies that show how cosmic dust and gas shape galaxy evolution; and a five-year, $22.5 million NIH grant to fund international study of membrane proteins.
In June 2011, University Research Administration launched a large new campus-wide electronic system designed to reduce the administrative burden of faculty and staff as well as the regulatory compliance risk for the University. Scores of people across the university contributed to this effort and, through the leadership of Carol Zuiches and her team, the University now benefits from the new system that significantly reduces paperwork and enhances our reporting capabilities.
The University welcomed two very distinguished researchers, Matthew Tirrell and Peter Littlewood, to its faculty in 2011. Tirrell is the inaugural Pritzker Director of the University’s new Institute for Molecular Engineering that was created in partnership with Argonne. Littlewood is Associate Lab Director at Argonne overseeing the labs’ Physical Sciences and Engineering Division. He is also holds an appointment as Professor in Physics at the University. Both researchers, who hold joint appointments with the University and Argonne, bring a wealth of experience and expertise to both communities.
The University also launched the Research Computing Center (RCC) in FY2011 to accelerate the pace of discovery in disciplines that rely on high-end computing. The RCC provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary high performance computing strategies, resources, and user support to the research community. Birali Ranusha was appointed director of the center in May 2011. His team will oversee the design, configuration and administration of a new centrally managed High-Performance Computing (HPC) system.
Our research development group, Arete, helped to advance a number of large-scale projects at the University in 2011, including the Urban Network initiative; the Spatial Intelligence Learning Center; and a new multi-disciplinary center for sexual and reproductive health.
The University’s Office of Technology and Intellectual Property (UChicagoTech) continues to grow mentoring and funding initiatives to advance early stage technology commercialization opportunities at UChicago. Although UChicagoTech revenues were slightly down to $8.7 million in FY2011 due to economic circumstances, there were a number of highlights including the acquisition of SmartSignal Corp., one of UChicago’s most promising start-ups, by GE.
As part of its stewardship role, the University appointed several distinguished individuals to the boards of Argonne and Fermilab. In 2011, the academic, business and public leaders who serve on the boards helped to further science and technology development and commercialization, reorganization, and strategy development at the labs. They also played an active role in advancing the Advanced Photon Source upgrade and energy storage initiatives at Argonne and driving investment in two major new facilities at both labs.
Also in FY2011, our office created and established board committees and processes at Argonne and Fermilab to provide input and guidance on the performance assurance systems at both labs. The committees, consisting of selected board members and subject matter experts, conducted formal reviews and provided recommendations to the labs in preparation for upcoming Peer Reviews led by the Office of Science. This engagement was acknowledged as a notable outcome by the DOE.
Through joint institutes and centers, seed grants, joint appointments, scholarships and tuition, training and after-hours networking events, and other investments, the University helped further national priorities in science, technology and innovation at Argonne and Fermilab.
We look forward to working closely with faculty and staff in pursuing opportunities for growing research and discovery at the University as well as the labs in 2012.
Donald H. Levy
Vice President for Research and for National Laboratories