Research & Discovery Sub-Committee Meets Tuesday, Reviews Previous Discussions for Final Report

The fourth meeting of the Research & Discovery Sub-Committee of the Transition Advisory Team took place on Tuesday, May 7, at the LSU AgCenter.  The meeting was streamed live via the Internet for those who could not attend and meeting archives are available at www.lsu.edu/tat.

Jim Firnberg, chair of the sub-committee, and Christel Slaughter of SSA Consultants presented a review of the charge to the sub-committee as outlined by the LSU Board of Supervisors and led a review discussion of the group’s previous meetings.

The sub-committee participated in a discussion of the strengths, challenges and research priorities of the various campuses within the current LSU System, as well as the recommendations to the Transition Advisory Team.

Discussion was focused on what has been accomplished in previous meetings, where the group wants to go in the future and how to structure the final report to the Transition Advisory Team.

The sub-committee touched on a number of areas of research and discovery for all parts of LSU, including administration, resources, infrastructure and support, to work toward making basic research and discovery more robust, incentivized and valued.

“There’s no substitute for human capital,” said Matthew Lee, associate vice chancellor for Research & Economic Development at LSU.
A major area of discussion was on translational research and how to get all campuses involved and coordinated.

Sam Bentley, associate professor in geology and geophysics at LSU, said that more people at LSU would be involved in translational research if they knew more about it and that the process starts when basic researchers are hired.

There was also discussion on establishing high level administrative support for large program development for all campuses. This would assist in coordinating efforts and cataloging resources available to researchers across LSU.

The group focused on ways to provide incentives to staff support currently in place and how to attract and retain that support in the future.  With recent budget issues, administrative support staff is an area that has been cut, but they are highly important to the grant process. The support staff helps researchers through the grant process and helps them to take advantage of opportunities available.

“For many of us, we’re drowning in opportunity,” said Rex Caffey, professor in natural resource economics at the LSU AgCenter. “We only have so much capacity.”

To move toward working through their final report, the sub-committee outlined areas of focus that could be LSU’s “strategic areas of excellence” by 2015. The areas identified include coastal and environment, biomedical, energy, computation and digital media, and natural resources. The group will individually identify sub-areas under each of these categories for the final report.

“The way I see it, we’re giving a broad direction for future planning,” Firnberg said.

The group closed the meeting with a discussion on how to enhance cross collaboration among the campuses. Slaughter said that any tools, techniques and technology that the sub-committee can recommend to help further collaboration would be helpful to the reorganization process.
Will Cefalu, associate executive director of scientific affairs/chief scientific officer at Pennington, said that all the campuses have strengths, but it’s important to maintain autonomy.

“I think autonomy is the key to make sure each institution continues to excel,” Cefalu said.

Lee said that it all comes down to communication and that there is no reason why campuses can’t simultaneously be involved in collaboration and still maintain their autonomy.

The Research & Discovery Sub-Committee is reviewing data on current productivity and strengths in research efforts, investigating opportunities for joint research proposals and projects with potential collaboration incentives, and proposing recommendations to improve productivity and accountability and leverage technology transfer opportunities.

The various sub-committees are discussing areas of focus and key priorities and are mapping out work plans by topic areas. Sub-committees are gathering information and crafting recommendations that will be presented to the Transition Advisory Team and ultimately the LSU Board of Supervisors.

Agendas for this and all LSU2015 sub-committee and task force group meetings can be found at http://sites01.lsu.edu/wp/lsu2015/events/. The names of Transition Advisory Sub-Committee members are available at http://sites01.lsu.edu/wp/lsu2015/transition-advisory-team-sub-committees/sub-committees/.

More information on LSU’s reorganization process can be found at http://www.lsu.edu/LSU2015. Information on the site includes meeting schedules, minutes and video and presentations from past meetings. Also, visit LSU’s reorganization Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LSU2015transition.