GT FIRE Sparks Innovation Among Faculty

Apr 4, 2011 | Atlanta, GA

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Amelia Pavlik
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Inspiring innovation in research and education is at the heart of Georgia Tech’s strategic plan, which is why the Offices of the Executive Vice President for Research and the Provost have created the Georgia Tech Fund for Innovation in Research and Education (GT FIRE).

“The program is off to a great start,” said Rafael L. Bras, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “The submitted proposals mesh well with our strategic plan, and that was our hope.”

The program has two purposes. The first aims to facilitate planning for large extramural proposals — those that are of strategic value to the Institute and have more than $500,000 in direct costs per year. The second provides support for feasibility studies of transformative ideas in research and/or education.

“Innovation in research is critical for us to lead and set the science, technology and policy agenda for the United States and the world,” said Steve Cross, executive vice president for research. “I am happy to support GT FIRE in stimulating faculty thinking and creativity.”

Funding of up to $4,000 per group is available on an ongoing basis for large extramural proposals and can be requested for costs associated with workshops, meetings, retreats and limited travel.

Funding of up to $40,000 for up to two years is available for transformative research and education proposals for costs associated with feasibility studies.

Two proposals have received funding to assist in planning for extramural grants including one from Ken Sandhage, on behalf of the Materials Council, for a workshop titled, “The Future of Materials Characterization at Georgia Tech,” and another from Bojan Petrovic, Glenn Sjoden and Farzad Rahnema of the School of Mechanical Engineering to facilitate planning for a $7.5 million, multidiscipline, multi-institution, Tech-led Department of Energy Integrated Research Project research proposal.    

Out of an initial 42 submitted transformative proposals, the following three research-related ideas and four education-related ideas were selected for funding:

For Research

  • Determinants of ‘Innocence:’ Modeling Exoneration Via Innocence Project Data, Kobi Abayomi, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Development of Aptamers for Gene Targeting, Francesca Storici, School of Biology
  • Epigenomic Divergence between Primates and Evolution of Human Disease, Soojin Yi, School of Biology

For Education

  • Educating a Biotechnology Policy and Security Workforce, Margaret Kosal, School of International Affairs, and Robert Butera, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Advancing Science Process Skill Development through Inquiry-based Biology Laboratory Classes, Cara Gormally and Joseph Montoya, School of Biology  
  • Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Design Minor, David Rosen, School of Mechanical Engineering
  • Technology Commercialization and Innovation in the Global Economy, Marie Thursby, College of Management

Submissions were reviewed by a committee consisting of faculty members from across campus, with Ravi Bellamkonda, associate vice president for research, and Ray Vito, vice provost for graduate and undergraduate studies, leading the group.  

“The GT FIRE program is the first of many initiatives on campus to foster and stimulate innovation,” Vito said. “There were more worthy ideas than we could support. But our offices will work to support these programs in other ways.”

To apply, contact Monique Tavares.     

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