Dear Colleagues,

I always enjoy the beginning of the Fall semester as faculty and students return to campus and the level of academic activity increases dramatically.   I would be less than truthful if I didn’t also mention the excitement associated with a return to athletic events under the capable leadership of Dr. Brophy.   Recently, I had the opportunity to spend time with our new faculty during their orientation to UAH and to talk with them about the mission and functions of the Office of Research and Economic Development.   I must say that I was very impressed by the quality and energy levels of our new faculty and look forward to supporting them as they begin their work here.    I also wanted to take this opportunity to update you on some important accomplishments and some changes that have recently occurred within OVPRED.  

Last year, working in partnership with the Provost, we began a UAH leadership program for faculty and research staff.   From all indications, the program was well received and has continued this year.  Applications were received prior to the end of the Spring 2015 semester and we expect to begin the program under the administration of Dr. Bob Lindquist again early this semester.   If you think you might be interested in next year’s class, please watch for the call for applications later this academic year.    This program offers a unique opportunity to interact with UAH’s leadership team and to network and exchanged ideas with colleagues in the class.   

Last year, we invested over $1.3M in funding for our faculty and research staff through a number of internal grant programs. During this academic year, we will continue some of these programs, but due to budget reductions and reductions in research expenditures, we will need to suspend two popular internal grant programs during AY 2015-2016.   I will re-evaluate our financials next AY with the hope of reinstating them.    This year we will once again announce and fund the Cross-College Faculty Research Program, the Charger Innovation Fund, the UA System Collaborative Research Program, the New Faculty Research Program, and the Industry/University Graduate Student Support Program.    I am suspending the Individual Investigator Distinguished Research (IIDR) program and the Research Infrastructure Fund (RIF) until further notice.  My hope is IIDR and RIF can be replaced by seeking external funding from the wide variety of agencies we work with.   

Our faculty research accomplishments continue to be a source of great pride for UAH and my office.    Some examples include Dr. Richard Miller’s (Physics) presentation of his orbital geochemistry work with respect to the Moon, which was a highlighted at the 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference and  in the news section of SCIENCE.    Dr. Michael Briggs (CSPAR) won an NSF CubeSat award in partnership with Auburn. This is another outstanding opportunity for our graduate and undergraduate students to be deeply engaged in a real space mission that will fly.  Dr. Sarma Rani  (Mechanical Engineering) recently won a PRAC-1 (Petascale Computing Resource Allocations) award from NSF.  This highly competitive award includes a computational allocation of 8.3 Million node-hours and 225 TB of Storage on the Blue Waters supercomputer – the most powerful supercomputer available to researchers today.    Dr. Jatinder “Jeet” Gupta (College of Business) was selected as Fellow of the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS) - the most prestigious award given by this society.   Ms. Gloria Greene (Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs) was elected to a two year term as President of the Society of Research Administrators Southern Section which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Puerto Rico.   Dr. Gary Zank (Department of Space Science and Director of CSPAR) won the highly prestigious Axford Medal - the highest honor given by the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS), an organization equivalent to the American Geophysical Union (AGU).   Dr. Yu Lei  (Chemical Engineering) won the 2015 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Award by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).  These are but a few examples of individual research accomplishments that were called to my attention – I know there are many more at UAH.   I’m always astounded at the productivity of our faculty and research staff and try to never miss an opportunity to highlight their accomplishments.

The UAH research centers have also been busy.   Dr. Tommy Morris has joined us as the new Director of the Center for Cybersecurity Research and Education.   He comes to UAH from Mississippi State with significant experience in industry and academia and a sustained record of accomplishment.    The Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center (RSESC) led an effort that resulted in UAH being selected as part of the winning team for an FAA Center of Excellence for Unmanned Systems.    The Earth System Science Center (ESSC) and RSESC worked together to deliver a lightning imaging instrument to NASA for an upcoming launch to the International Space Station.    Each of the UAH  research centers continues to impress me with their accomplishments at a national and international level – they are a very important part of UAH’s research delivery.   

As I’ve said before, I often hear from you that these letters are appreciated as a means of communication and I do appreciate that feedback.  There are so many wonderful achievements by our faculty, staff, and students that I can easily miss mentioning something.  If that has happened here, please accept my apologies – the fault lies solely with me.   It’s always a pleasure for me to hear from you and I appreciate all that you do for our university.   I look forward to more success and achievement at UAH in the future and wish each of you (no matter what position you hold at UAH) a wonderful Fall semester and a productive year!  Go Chargers.


Yours in Service –

Ray Vaughn