Research at USM
The University of Southern Mississippi continues to meet head-on the intellectual and human issues of the day. The challenges are formidable, and university professors and students are tackling the issues through relevant research that translates into real-world applications and learning opportunities.
USM is one of 130 universities included in the “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity” category by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The category includes universities engaged in the highest level of research activity.
Vice President for Research
The Vice President for Research promotes and monitors scholarship within the university community and presides over all administrative proceedings relating to research, creative activities and scholarship.
The Vice President for Research promotes research, creative activities, and scholarship within the University community through a variety of services including:
Ensuring compliance with government regulations through the
- Office of Research Administration, which assists faculty in identifying and applying for external support and provides post-award administration of contracts and grants;
- Office of Research Integrity, which manages the University’s Research and Scholarly Integrity Assurance Program and oversees the Institutional Review Board and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, among other functions;
- Office of Technology Development, which assists faculty, staff, and students to protect and commercialize innovations that emerge from USM’s research enterprise;
- Office of Research Security and Export Control, which is responsible for assisting principal investigators to ensure research work is not being conducted in violation of federal rules, regulations, and/or laws that govern the release of certain information, materials and/or technical data to foreign nationals; and the
- Office of Environmental Health and Safety, which promotes a successful research enterprise, a safe teaching environment and minimizes health and safety impacts to surrounding communities.
Serving as a liaison with research institutes, foundations, government agencies and industry.
Providing faculty support for travel to meetings with federal agency program officers in Washington, DC and other locations.
Providing proposal development support and research start-up funds to faculty.
The Office of the Vice President for Research offers a grant program for faculty to facilitate planning, writing and submitting extramural proposals to support research and scholarly activities. The program provides up to $2,000 to be used for any activity, travel expense or commodity that helps faculty prepare and submit extramural proposals.
Proposals to facilitate interdisciplinary efforts across departmental or college lines are considered with higher priority. Requests to collaborate with faculty at other institutions to prepare competitive proposals also are considered.
Proposal Development Grants provide $2,000 for a 12-month period (competitively renewable for up to 24 months and $4,000). Grant recipients are expected to prepare and submit one or more extramural, competitive grant proposals within the 12-month award period.
Submit a request (up to two pages) including:
- the proposed activity
- how the development funds will be used
- a simple budget
- faculty member(s) involved in proposal development
- program affiliation of all participating faculty
- agency(ies) targeted by the planned proposal
- a link to the relevant Request for Proposals or other application guidelines
Forward requests through the appropriate dean(s) to the Office of the Vice President for Research. Proposals may be reviewed in the spring, with a due date of April 15. For more information, contact the Office of the Vice President for Research at 601.266.5116.
The Office of the Vice President for Research (VPR) supports faculty travel for meetings with federal agency program officers in Washington, DC and other locations. The goal of the program is to maximize faculty understanding of federal agency programs and to learn details of federal funding opportunities. Visits with program officers also provide opportunities for faculty members to provide information about USM in general and specific programs to those responsible for providing research support funding.
Applications for travel funds to meet with agency staff should be made through the Research Development Travel Program Form on the VPR web page. Funding decisions are based on funds available and are the prerogative of the VPR.
The following expectations apply:
- The faculty member must prepare a one-page, four-color document with illustrations to provide to the program officer during the visit. This document should be submitted for review by the Associate VPR (AVPR) prior to travel.
- The faculty member must prepare a brief (about one-page) report on the trip to be submitted before the travel expense report will be processed. The report should describe the purpose of the visit and what was learned.
- The report should include contact information for the program office/managers met so the VPR or AVPR can drop by on subsequent agency visits to reinforce your visit and express the University’s support for your work.
The VPR or AVPR is available to meet with faculty before travel to discuss the purpose and plans for the scheduled meetings.
New Faculty Startup Fund Practices and Expectations
Faculty members at the University of Southern Mississippi are evaluated on their respective contributions in the areas of teaching, research, and service. Newly hired faculty members will come from diverse backgrounds and may be provided with startup funds at an appropriate level in order to assist and expedite the development of an externally funded research /scholarly activities program.
Startup funds may be provided for new faculty members to purchase equipment and make other expenditures directly related to developing their research/scholarly activities program. This funding is not an automatic grant, nor should it be considered an unrestricted pool of funds but rather an account established and based specifically on the research/scholarly activity development needs of the new faculty member and the resources already available in the school, college, and university.
Requesting Startup Support
When formulating the amount of the startup fund, consideration will be given to the number and size of grants as well as the customary indirect cost recoveries generated in the unit making the request. Startup funds for new faculty members will be requested and allocated on a case-by-case basis and startup packages will normally be negotiated as part of the regular new faculty recruitment process.
When requesting startup funds from the Vice President for Research, please provide a description of the research or creative activity the new faculty member will bring to USM, along with a budget and explanation of how the funds will be used. Also include likely sources of grant support, and please be as specific as possible (for example, not just “National Science Foundation,” but include a specific program, division, or funding opportunity). The Office of Research Administration is available to assist in identification of potential sources of grant support.
Managing Startup Funds
Faculty startup designated (DE) accounts are established for three years with the expectation all funds be expended within two years. This expectation is important, as the funds are provided to enable the new faculty member to establish a research program quickly. The VPR’s office will distribute half of the VPR portion of the startup funds upon arrival of the faculty member at Southern Miss and the other half at the beginning of the second fiscal year. If a different distribution strategy is important to meet the new faculty member’s research needs, then a request should be made to the VPR.
The startup account will be closed and residual funds will revert to the designated accounts (VPR and Dean) from which the funds were awarded initially. If all startup funds have not been expended by the end of the third year, a request for those funds can be made in writing to the Dean. But, the reasons for extending the time period must be compelling. Should an extension be granted, all expenses during the extended period will be paid from the Dean’s DE account; the startup DE account will not be re-established.
Expectations for Faculty Receiving Startup Support
Startup funding is provided with the understanding that the new faculty member will use these resources to seek external sources of support. Please also note that acceptance of this award requires that any publication (journal article, book, etc.), other scholarly or creative product (webpage, record, CD, etc.), performance, or product resulting from the project must acknowledge the support of The University of Southern Mississippi. University patent and copyright regulations also apply to work resulting from startup funds.
All university policies and procedures must be followed for startup and any other source of funds (e.g., Human Resources, procurement, travel, financial).
As part of the new faculty mentoring process, the Department Chair or other designated mentor is expected to monitor expenditures in the individual startup funds so that the funds are used in a timely fashion and in accord with the planned research program described by the faculty member at the time of hiring.
During annual performance evaluations, each faculty member who has had access to startup support during the previous year is required to provide a brief report describing the status of his/her developing research program, which should include a summary of how the startup funds have been expended as well as document his/her efforts at securing external funding. No particular format is stipulated for this report and it should be included as part of the annual evaluation documentation each year until the startup funds are expended. It is recommended that departmental tenure and promotion committee consider the summary of these annual reports carefully during the third year pre-tenure review and appropriate guidance should be provided to the faculty member as part of the pre-tenure review.