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Fall semester buzzing with research, eco dev activity

October is a time when students, faculty and staff hit their stride, and the fall semester is buzzing with activity. It is one of my favorite times of the year. On Oct. 3, C Spire revealed that it will build a $20-million data center in the Thad Cochran Research Park, and I was pleased to be a part of the announcement. The research park is one of our state’s crown jewels, and I anticipate it playing an even greater role in future economic development activities as we develop the Phase II expansion. Please let me share a few of the other things that we have been working on recently.


David Shaw is vice president for research and economic development at Mississippi State University.

AAHRPP certifies university’s human subjects research protections
In mid-September, we learned that the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs had fully certified Mississippi State -- the first university in the state to attain this highly-sought endorsement. The multi-year process to achieve accreditation required extensive planning and preparation by faculty and staff that culminated in a site visit over the summer. Please join me in thanking IRB Officer Jodi Roberts for coordinating this effort, the Office of Research Compliance (ORC) team, and our researchers who participated in the process.

It is worth noting that training is a key component of MSU’s human research protection program, and on Oct. 29, ORC will host an IRB refresher course. For additional details or to register, visit https://ssl2.msstate.edu/orc/workshops/login.php

On another Office of Research Compliance note, Nicole Morse is the new compliance administrator.

Brown to lead Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory
By now, you have probably read [ http://www.research.msstate.edu/rresources/news.php?id=2765 ] that Ashli Brown is the new director of the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory, a state agency that is housed on our campus in Hand Chemical Lab Building. Previously, she served as the MSCL's director of research and agriculture forensics. We are excited about Dr. Brown taking the helm of the MSCL and serving as State Chemist. I am confident that she will do a great job, and look forward to her formal confirmation by the Mississippi Senate.

Moffatt to serve as research ethics consultant for students
Enhancing research opportunities for our undergraduate and graduate students is a very important priority for Mississippi State, and we are taking a number of steps to support our faculty and student researchers in their endeavors. Recently, the university selected Bart Moffatt, assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, to serve as the new research ethics consultant for students. In this role, he is available to interact with any undergraduate or graduate student with questions about research ethics.  Students may do so anonymously by using this email address: ethicsconsult@research.msstate.edu  -- or they may interact directly with him by contacting him at brm157@msstate.edu and setting up a consultation. Please share this information with your students.

Major NIH grant
We are very excited about a $10-million grant from the National Institutes of Health that will further research focusing on diseases that affect animal and human health. The unique nature of the grant establishes a mentoring program for a core group of researchers. In addition to principal investigator Stephen Pruett, the head of MSU-CVM’s basic sciences department, MSU researchers in this group include Janet Donaldson, associate professor in biological sciences; Mariola Edelman, assistant research professor with the Institute of Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology; Bindu Nanduri and Keun Seok Seo, both MSU-CVM assistant professors in basic sciences; and Henry Wan, an MSU-CVM associate professor. Over the course of the five-year grant, the researchers will work on projects that promote a greater understanding of animal and human health. Winning this NIH grant is a significant accomplishment for our institution, and I commend everyone involved for the tremendous effort.

Kudos and congratulations
Every month, I look forward to sharing success stories about our faculty and staff with you. Here are a few of them that have crossed my desk recently:

* Congratulations to the College of Veterinary Medicine’s David Smith for being appointed to the U.S. Agriculture Secretary's Advisory Committee on Animal Health. Dr. Smith, who is the first Dr. P. Mikell and Mary Cheek Hall Davis Endowed Professor of Beef Cattle Health and Reproduction at MSU, will serve on the national committee through August 2014. He and other committee members will lead dialogue on livestock economies and public health concerns.

* Daniel G. Peterson, director of the Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology and a professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at Mississippi State, has taken on leadership roles in two prominent plant biology societies. Dr. Peterson has been elected to the steering committee of the International Cotton Genome Initiative and has been asked to serve on the American Society for Plant Biologist’s Science Policy Committee.

* The Korea Institute of Industrial Technology, known as KITECH, has appointed Roger King, director of the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems and Giles Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at MSU, to its international advisory board, which has a focus on the industrialization of advanced technologies. Board members include eminent scientists and engineers from around the world.

Dr. Smith, Dr. Peterson and Dr. King are excellent examples of how our outstanding faculty members are playing important leadership roles in their respective fields.

Final words
As you might imagine, funding is a very important focus for us these days. With the current uncertainty in Washington, we are working to mitigate any impacts on the university’s research and economic development initiatives. External funding from grants and contracts is critical to these efforts, and I applaud all of you who are writing proposals and developing contacts with funding agencies. If my office can be of any assistance, please let us know. As always, thank you for taking the time to read this month’s letter. Please feel free to contact me at dshaw@research.msstate.edu with your questions or suggestions.

Go Dawgs!

— David


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