Kansas University faculty will gather today to discuss what's been called the most important part of their academic duties - research.
"I think there are things that the faculty need to hear from each other," said Jim Roberts, vice provost for research. "I want to hear what people have on their minds in terms of research."
It's the inaugural research summit, a gathering that is modeled after KU's annual teaching summit and aims to discuss the hot topics facing faculty.
The event, which runs from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will take place in Wescoe Hall. About 200 faculty and students are expected to participate. About 30 researchers from Kansas University Medical Center are expected.
KU researchers brought in more than $200 million in research awards in fiscal year 2006. KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway has set the goal for KU to become a top 25 research university. And new Provost Richard Lariviere earlier this year reiterated the focus on research, telling professors at September's faculty convocation that research is their first responsibility.
Today's summit focuses on several topics facing KU faculty, including balancing research and other responsibilities, undergraduate research, restricted research, recruitment and mentoring of graduate and post-doctoral students, industrial funding and economic development.
KU faculty must juggle research along with their other teaching and service duties - a workload that some find challenging.
"Any one of those responsibilities in many respects could be a full-time job," said Ruth Ann Atchley, associate professor of psychology, who will help lead talks about balancing research and other academic responsibilities. "A faculty member really has three distinct and demanding jobs. All three, in many respects, require a different set of skills."
Atchley said she hopes faculty will share their stories and strategies for meeting their various responsibilities.
Atchley, president of KU's Faculty Senate, also assisted with planning for the summit. She said the main theme is competitiveness.
"We really have this overarching theme of being competitive in research - nationally and internationally," she said. "We tried to figure out the areas where we could improve and where we could communicate good strategy and best practice. We also looked at areas where there might be challenges."
There will be sessions that offer advice on getting and managing the first grant, entrepreneurship, technology transfer and intellectual property.
Roberts will help lead a discussion on how politics play into research funding.
Although federal funding is relatively flat, he said KU remains competitive. At the National Institutes of Health, for example, the budget doubled from 1998 to 2003, but has since remained relatively level.
"We don't want people to just buy into the notion that if federal funds are flat, therefore we have to be flat," Roberts said. "That's simply not true."