RASP Spring 2022 Faculty Newsletter

Dear Colleagues,

Once again, another academic year is coming to a close more quickly than I could have imagined. But this one seems to be ending on an incredible upswing; in the last week alone I was able to attend the Undergraduate Symposium on Research, Scholarship, and Creative Endeavors, the Annual Fashion Show, and the Judith Devine Athletic Scholarship Dinner. What these events all had in common, beyond recognizing the incredible accomplishments of our students, was the palpable joy at being able to be back to celebrate in-person together. This joy simply builds upon the excitement we are experiencing following the designation of Kent State University as an R1 (very high research) institution; every person on campus seems to be celebrating this announcement, and rightfully so, as this was the result of the hard work of everyone at KSU.

Since the announcement, we have engaged in multiple conversations, presentations, and planning sessions to spread the word and garner feedback from the university community. From those engagements, we have created several immediate strategies that will contribute to our longer-term sustainable success and growth. I have outlined a few tactics below that we have and will continue to pursue in our strategy to enhance our culture of research and innovation, support success of our faculty and, in so doing, work towards the maintenance of the R1 designation. These efforts also align nicely with the work that is happening around the next Academic Affairs strategic plan and specifically with the sub-group that I am co-chairing (with Tony Jakli, Ph.D. and Marie Bukowski, M.F.A.) focused on Expanding Breakthrough Research and Creative Activities. What lies over the horizon for research at Kent State University fills me with excitement, and I am thrilled to continue to lead a team that is committed to supporting the excellent work of the researchers and scholars from across our institution. 

All my best as you complete the semester and I hope you get some well-deserved time to rest and recharge over the summer.  


Typically, institutions invest millions of dollars and an incredible amount of time into achieving the coveted R1 classification. While KSU’s recognition as an R1 institution was the result of several strategic efforts that we made in the recent past, we did not invest heavily in these efforts as part of strategic planning (and thus, no other areas were faced with a lack of investment). For this reason, and the fact that the designation criteria broadly encompass activities across campus, virtually everyone on campus played a role in this designation and there is broad interest in maintaining the R1 classification. Thus, we have developed a plan with the primary goal of continually growing the research/creative activity of faculty at KSU. At the same time, we are identifying short-term investments that can aid this goal while optimizing time frames important to retaining the R1 status. These strategies include:


Postdoc Program

A two-year postdoc program in which top-funded faculty were offered support for a postdoc if they committed to submitting two large-scale grant applications and can have the person in place by November 2022. This will increase our number of postdocs on campus (an R1 criterion) while focusing on growing our funded research. 


University Practices


Partnering with functional areas including Accounts Payable, Grants Accounting, Human Resources, Scholarship, etc. to address institutional practices that limit effective and productive research engagement while ensuring that appropriate requirements and mandates are upheld.


Research Development

The development of a Research Development office within RASP that will position highly skilled staff to support faculty and faculty teams in their pursuit and obtainment of extramural funding.


Accuracy, Reporting, and Data

Continued work across administrative units to ensure agreed-upon definitions and accurate counting of Carnegie metrics. 


Undergraduate Research Symposium

Though the number of participants at this year’s Undergraduate Symposium on Research, Scholarship and Creative Endeavors was down due to research delays and disruptions caused by COVID-19, you would not have known that given the levels of excitement and energy that participants brought to the event. Throughout the day, students enthusiastically presented posters and oral presentations describing their scholarly pursuits. The award ceremony afterwards was by far the most raucous I have attended (and I have attended all of them) as students cheered for friends and colleagues and celebrated being back to in-person events. Over 230 undergraduates participated, and many kudos are due to Ann Gosky, Director of the Office of Student Research, and the dedicated team of faculty judges, staff and volunteers whose efforts make this event possible.


Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE)

We are thrilled that this summer’s SURE program will have the largest number of student participants in the program’s history. This year there will be 129 students working across a range of colleges, departments, and campuses, surpassing the previous participant high of 72. As many of you have experienced firsthand, the SURE program offers an invaluable opportunity for students to meaningfully contribute to knowledge generation, scholarship and research while developing skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. This program would not be possible without the faculty and staff mentors and supporters, and we are so thankful for your partnership. We are also thankful for the continued commitment of university leadership, partner units across the university, and our generous donors whose continued support advances this life-changing experience for our undergraduate students.

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HERD Top 200

Almost lost in all the excitement of our new R1 designation is the fact that Kent State University (Kent Campus) broke into the top 200 on the FY20 Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey conducted by the National Science Foundation. The survey takes into account all research and development expenditures across several categories including federal, state and local government, institutional funds, business, nonprofit organizations and other sources. Achieving a top-200 ranking has been a stated goal of the division and is a testament to the hard work of all our researchers. The rankings also highlight areas where we can, and need to, improve. It is anticipated that our current investments in research support and research development staff will improve federal funding rates. Further, via collaboration with the offices of Government Relations and Corporate Engagement we are increasing our efforts to engage with state and local governments and with industry. Our newly obtained R1 status provides an additional leverage point for us in these conversations and enables us to further the university’s identity as a research and innovation engine and leader in the region.   


Changes to Paying Independent Contractors

Working closely with HR, Procurement, Payroll and Legal, we anticipate that new changes to the Independent Contractor process will become effective in June. Certain independent contractor situations will now be able to be approved following an expedited process, eliminating long delays and multiple steps for approval.

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Grants, Grants, Grants

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Faculty have also been busy this semester. Here are just a few examples of recent grant success: 

  • Hamza Balci and Soumitra Basu received $454,327 from NIGMS (NIH) for Targeting Promoter G-quadruplexes with CRISPR-dCas9 for Transcription Regulation.
  • Lance Williams, Kevin Hilger, Judith Paternite, Michael Ball, Kevin Deemer, and Andrew Luoma received $585,045 from USDA for Project CORD, Connecting Ohioans in Rural Areas Through Distance Learning Education.
  • Amanda Johnson and Martin Jencius received $274,961 from IREX/Department of State for Kent State University Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement: Media Literacy, January 2022.
  • Linda Ohrn-McDaniel, Mourad Krifa, Noel Palomo-Lovinski, and Louise Valentine received $236,816 from ODHE for Fostering Ohio Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Next-Generation Digital Knit Technology.
  • Hossein Mirinejad received $200,000 from NSF for ERI: Precision Dosing in Critical Care: An Automated Modeling and Control Approach.
  • Tao Shen received $198,978 from NSF for ERI: Exploration of the Design, Dynamics and Control of Self‐Decoupled, Cable‐Driven Serial Robots.

Please join me in congratulating our colleagues!!

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We recently announced the 2021-2022 RASP Award Winners. A formal recognition ceremony is being planned for next Academic Year, but please join me in recognizing the following recipients:

Outstanding Research and Scholar Award (ORSA)

Ruoming Jin, Computer Science

Deric R. Kenne, Public Health

Jihyun Vick, Fashion

New Faculty Outstanding Research and Scholar Award

Christie Bahlai, Biological Sciences

Leigh Garcia, Art

Shannon Navy, Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies

Graduate Student Mentoring Award

Clarissa Thompson, Psychological Sciences

Sara Bayramzadeh, Architecture and Environmental Design

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Technology Commercialization

Over the past year, we have been working hard behind the scenes to build out structures that support entrepreneurial faculty efforts and increase technology commercialization activity. Al Green, Ph.D., has facilitated several sessions in a series entitled the “Inventors’ Forum” which brings together experienced and new faculty entrepreneurs with experts across several commercialization topics to discuss the pitfalls and best practices for commercializing university intellectual property. Additionally, together with Cleveland State University, we have secured a third round of “TeCK” funding from the State of Ohio which we will use to facilitate commercialization activity for projects leveraging university IP. Further, the Kent State University Research Corporation has taken on management of Centennial Research Park, providing a revenue stream that will be used to support entrepreneurial activities and commercialization across the university. 

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Video Archive

We have pulled together an archive of recorded trainings, workshops, etc. pertaining to research success and processes on our Research Faculty Development page

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Passing of Charmaine

It is with a heavy heart that I share the sad news that Charmaine Streharsky, Ed.D., passed away April 24, 2022 after a brief illness. Over her career at Kent State University, Charmaine held several positions working in the Liquid Crystal Institute, then in RASP; first in tech transfer and then sponsored programs, and most recently serving as a Senior Sponsored Programs Administrator. She not only made valuable contributions to KSU but, more importantly, she created many lasting friendships. Her joy and caring for others were ever present. We are saddened by the passing of a great person and friend, and I know that many will be remembering her fondly in the coming days and weeks.

Kent State Division of Research and Sponsored Programs | Website

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