As part of this year’s Research Week celebration, the Office of Research and the Graduate School cosponsored several competitions: seed grants for individual investigators ($10K and a research assistantship for two semesters) and a team planning grant ($50K + a research assistantship for two semesters), as well as the travel grants for developing industry collaborations and pitching the business value of your research. The system-wide response from the WSU faculty was remarkable; one of the competitions received 54 applications. After a first phase review, a selected group of faculty researchers pitched their ideas in oral presentations followed by Q&A opportunities with judges and audience.

Travel Grant Competition

Tyler Bland, postdoctoral research associate in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Soumik Banerjee, associate professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and Jose Riera, assistant director of the Language Learning and Resource Center, won a $2,500 travel grant each, as well as administrative support from the Innovation and Research Engagement Office (IREO) to initiate contact and develop strategic, industrial partnerships with targeted companies.

Team Planning Grant

Eric Lofgren, assistant professor in the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, and his team won the Team Planning competition with their proposal for the Resistance Epidemiology Modeling Initiative (REMI). The award consists of $50,000 provided by the Office of Research and a doctoral-level research assistantship provided by the Graduate School. With this initiative, this multidisciplinary team looks to take the next steps towards positioning WSU at the cutting edge of research in antimicrobial resistance at the intersection of both human and animal health. One of their first projects will be coordinating efforts with local stakeholders at Pullman Regional Hospital, Gritman Hospital, and the Medical School at the Spokane campus.

RA and $10K Competition

“Initially, this competition was for one award, but there were so many great projects that the Graduate School and the Office of Research pooled in more resources and funded two awards,” said Geeta Dutta, assistant vice president of the Office of Research and director of the Office of Research Advancement and Partnerships. She also noted that the judges were both impressed and pleased with the broad array of ideas. “We will follow up with all applicants to assist them in preparing white papers and identifying funding opportunities to help move their ideas forward.”

Io Palmer, associate professor of fine arts, and Ryan McLaughlin, assistant professor in integrative physiology and neuroscience, were the winners of these seed grants that seek to provide faculty with the opportunity to explore a new line of research or scholarly activity at the intersection of disciplines. Palmer’s project, In Ceramics In Science, will employ a collaborative approach to create ceramic murals in the Elson Floyd College of Medicine that will gather input from students and the communities of Pullman and Spokane. The $10,000 will go towards materials and travel; the research assistantship provided by the Graduate School will be crucial for the success of this collaboration. Palmer indicated that this project is the first step in the long-term goal of creating a collaborative public arts initiative across the state’s schools, hotels, and other venues.

With his project, Impact of Prenatal Cannabis Exposure on the Emotional Brain, McLaughlin looks to tackle the growing public health concern of cannabis use during pregnancy. This grant will provide support for Halle Weimar, one of his PhD students. She will utilize an innovative self-administering animal model that will address some of the inherent limitations of human studies.

Pitching the Business Value of Your Research

In a two-hour “shark tank” style pitch session, WSU researchers presented the business value of their research to a panel of successful industry experts and faculty entrepreneurs. The top three presentations received cash awards of $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 to go towards their lab accounts. The winners of this competition, sponsored by IREO and the Office of Commercialization, were:

  • 1st: Richard Allen White III, postdoctoral research associate in Plant Pathology
  • 2nd: Arda Gozen, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering
  • 3rd: David Drake, fabrications labs manager

President Kirk Schulz and Vice President for Research Chris Keane congratulated the winners during the Research Week Awards Ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 24.