Summer research sabbatical

Are you a faculty member in a STEM field at a primarily undergraduate institution (PUI)?  The NSF-funded REU program in "Chemical Analysis for the Developing World" is seeking faculty from 2- and 4-year schools for a companion research sabbatical program.  

  • Starting in summer 2015
  • 4-8 weeks of research at Notre Dame along with the undergraduate student of your choice (who will participate in the REU program)
  • $1,000/week stipend, support for paper and grantwriting
  • Required 50% match from your home institution in direct research support for your project


Summer 2015 comments:

Kyle Cissell, Saginaw Valley State University (worked with Michelle Joyce on MALDI of milk project)

Beth Jensen, Aquinas College (worked with Marya Lieberman on PAD project)

Kevin Rhoads, Sienna College (worked with Matt Champion on 3-D printed HPLC project)

What was the application process like?  How hard was it to get your administration to come up with the matching funds, what solution did they/you come up with, and what are you planning to do with those funds?  

- The application process was really straightforward.  I felt no barrier to applying. My dean was very supportive right from the start.  He was extremely excited about making a connection with ND.  The support will be used mainly for instrument time and reagents (matrices, standards, etc.). 

The application process was easy. The online form that Toni posted was very straightforward. Asking the administration to come up with matching funds was surprisingly easy. I just met with our interim dean, explained the program at ND, and he agreed to provide the funds. Our sponsored programs office surprised me in that they informed me that the money must come out of a set aside undergraduate research fund and specifically be used to pay students for research, and that I will have to complete an application to receive those funds. Therefore, I plan on using the funds to pay students to work on the projects during a semester (two students during one semester, or one student over the course of two semesters). I plan to write an internal mini-grant to obtain necessary equipment, which should not be an issue. 

What was your living situation like--where did you stay, did you bring family members or come solo, how much did it cost, strong and weak points?  

- I stayed at the Overlook.  The selling points for the Overlook: close to campus, fully furnished (including towels and sheets), new clean space with full size kitchen, "in apartment" washer and dryer, and helpful management.  It really couldn't have been more convenient.  The only real downside was that it is a bit pricey at $1300 for the month (I think the dorm option was going to be $25/day so it seemed worth it to me for the ease of making my own meals and having my own space).  My wife works full time so it didn't make sense for my family to come with me.

The living situation was good. I stayed at The Overlook at Notre Dame with my wife and two children. The apartment was new and had excellent amenities. It was as expected with two children under the age of 3 (a lot of screaming, fear of being evicted because of their screaming, etc.), but there were enough activities in South Bend to maintain my wife's sanity while I was in the lab. On a more serious note, the apartments were very nice. The cost for me was ~$1200, but a part of that was a $300 mandatory cleaning fee, so the actual cost of the apartment was very reasonable given its amenities. The only weak point for me was the small size for a family of 4, but we knew what we were getting into. 

•  What do you feel you got out of working full time at ND for four weeks?  Ditto for the grantsmanship workshop?  

- I learned a ton about MALDI (thanks MIchelle and Bill) in general and specifically about the Bruker instrument (which is almost identical to our own). To me, becoming familiar with an instrument takes a lot of time sitting, using, and observing what an instrument can do well and what it can't do.  Sounds sort of mundane, I suppose, but I found the time very well spent getting comfortable with the instrument and software.  Also, in working with Jacqui, being undergrad from another institution, it was refreshing to have candid conversations about what is valuable in the undergrad experience.   The grantsmanship workshops were valuable in that they gave me some fresh perspective on the process.  The time alone, the distance from my own institution, the presentations,  as well as the conversations with the other faculty helped remove barriers that developed in my "normal" work day.  The "deconstruction" of the grant writing process was extremely productive use of time. 

While working at ND, I learned a wealth of information on 3D printing and microcontrollers which I will bring back for my research at SVSU. Matt Champion was great to work with, not to mention that he pretty much knows everything about everything. From my time at ND, it will allow me to expand my research program and reach out to more undergraduate students. The grantsmanship workshop was very helpful. As a result, probably not this semester due to my commitments, but next semester, I plan to volunteer to serve on a review panel. Also, getting me to change my view on grant writing was helpful (i.e. thinking about the 4-box approach rather than my traditional approach). This will change the way that I write grants from now on. After completing the grant workshop I now want to write several grants.