Every year, the Office of Research Development (ORD) a unit within the Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED) facilitates a Faculty Agency Trip to Washington, D.C.
The trips consist of one-on-one meetings with agency program personnel. Faculty discuss their research concepts and explore potential opportunities for funding and partnerships with federal programs.
The trip also includes meetings on Capitol Hill where faculty share their cutting-edge research and broader impacts with California representatives and conduct media interviews in which UC Merced academics discuss their research programs and their impacts.
“I was able to connect with program officers at the USDA and NSF with confidence and with a better understanding of how each program works,” said Professor Rebecca Ryals. I left the meetings with a clear strategy for prioritizing my grant writing time, and I am genuinely excited to submit a proposal! I am so appreciative of the support from the ORED team for their permission before, during and after the trip.”
The trip is traditionally scheduled for October, the pandemic required adjustments. The virtual trip was held at the end of March.
“It was a great success, and the meetings between faculty and program officers were incredibly productive. While we lost some ability to interact socially among ourselves, the most critical element of the trip — the meetings with program officers — were very successful,” interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Marjorie Zatz said.
The virtual opportunity gave faculty the chance to have one-on-one interactions with program officers, and it’s also an essential investment by UC Merced in growing professional faculty networks and strengthening our institution’s research enterprise, Zatz said.
“The event helped me to connect with and discuss my research with funding agencies and programs that I have not communicated with before and that are not located physically in D.C.,” said Professor Kinjal Dasbiswas. “This was very helpful in terms of planning my future efforts to secure extramural funding.”
Funding agencies involved in the meetings included the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy and United States Department of Agriculture.
Over several months, staff colleagues from the ORED worked with 13 faculty participants in preparation for more than 30 meetings with federal agency program officers. Staff worked with faculty to find relevant program officers, prepare research concept papers, and debriefed with faculty on strategy and next steps once the meetings were completed. Staff accompaniments included Zatz, ORD team members Melinda L. Boehm, Kelly Bolcavage, Sarah Naumes and HSRI Executive Director Trevor Hirst.
“I want to thank everyone who participated in the virtual D.C. trip for their hard work, and especially to thank Melinda, Kelly, Sarah and Luyen for their tremendous support for research development at UC Merced. I look forward to seeing the grant awards that will result from these visits,” Zatz said.