Welcome to the 2018 Annual Report from the University of West Florida’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.
As the interim assistant vice president of research administration, it is my pleasure to invite you to explore the following pages that celebrate some of the many research and scholarly accomplishments by UWF faculty, staff and students. These are exciting days at UWF and across the state of Florida as we look to expand our research capabilities by leveraging the strengths of UWF’s geographic, natural and human resources to enhance scholarly activities within and outside the classrooms.
I have been a faculty member, department chairperson and college administrator at UWF since 2005. During that time on our campus, I have seen many changes of academic units, administrative and executive leadership, and even logos. Throughout all of this, UWF has remained dedicated to the importance of supporting our faculty, staff and students who pursue research excellence. We saw that in the creation and expansion of UWF’s Office of Undergraduate Research, its creation of new University centers dedicated to cybersecurity, multidisciplinary studies, and supply chain management excellence (to name a few), and our ongoing support of the grants and contracts that expand UWF’s research capabilities.
What is research at the University of West Florida? Surely, there must be nearly as many answers to this question as there are UWF faculty (138), undergraduates (9,490 and counting), and graduate students (2,800 strong). Research is at the heart of every university and may take the form of innovative teaching in our classrooms and laboratories, focused engagement with our regional and national communities, and student-centered disciplinary engagement by UWF’s dedicated faculty. In the following pages, you will see examples of UWF’s dedication to preserving our unique historical and environmental landscape, while also pushing the boundaries of our academic disciplines. UWF faculty and students are dedicated to expanding knowledge amongst our students and within our global research communities.
Our research effort is demonstrated every day by UWF colleges, departments and instructors utilizing the most current concepts and technologies to bring alive the Argo student experience on campus and (increasingly) online. Many faculty and staff make the extra effort to pursue external funding from federal agencies like the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for Humanities and the National Institutes of Health and others; state agencies like the Florida departments of health and corrections; and a variety of private foundations. Recent efforts have led Argos to destinations ranging from the South Pacific to the Southern Ocean.
External research funding at UWF. The UWF educators who submit the applications and proposals for this external funding do so to bring to UWF new capabilities and technology or to take UWF student and faculty researchers into the field and across the globe. External funding is any revenue source that is not tied to the state of Florida’s direct investment in higher education. It may involve grants or contracts and always requires significant effort from the faculty/staff investigators. In all these efforts, Argo researchers are supported by the professional staff from the UWF Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. They include grant specialists, business managers and other support staff to help guide the manifold processes and procedures that pursue, secure and manage these new funds that provide for new opportunities for students, faculty and staff to explore all the facets of our world.
What’s next for UWF research? The UWF Division of Research and Strategic Innovation works with both our internal academic partners and representatives of industrial, public sector, military and other eternal members of the regional and national community. As such, UWF research requires a dedication to UWF faculty, staff and students, while casting an eye to external partners who provide important context and new opportunities for the UWF research community. We look forward to a dedication to new efforts in research administration and research engagement.
Research administration includes all of our administrative efforts to increase financial support for UWF teaching and research activities by securing eternal funds, but it starts with celebrating and championing the ongoing research that occurs as part of our degree programs, student research at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and all of the scholarly activities performed by our dedicated UWF faculty. A successful grant or contract represents the culmination of a tremendous amount of work. It starts with an idea borne from a professor’s discussion with a colleague or student before that researcher finding ways to integrate that new concept into a lecture or a student thesis project. After which, she will work with RSP staff to identify potential funding mechanisms and spend considerable time writing and revising proposals, responding to sponsor comments and critiques to further revise and re-submit a successful proposal. At UWF, research administration facilitates these processes while celebrating the accompanying accomplishments: thesis defenses; undergraduate research presentations; faculty research seminars and colloquia; and (hopefully) the grant or contract secured to start up again the whole cycle.
Research engagement describes our plans to strategically and intentionally launch efforts that connect UWF student and faculty researchers with non-UWF personnel, places and concepts. Applied research may take the form of an industry partner bringing into a classroom a real-world problem that becomes the subject of an interdisciplinary student research team project or pairing a military or private-sector client with a faculty researcher to investigate solutions to tomorrow’s challenges. No matter the specific form, this research engagement links our academic community with professional partners to expand the impact of UWF research beyond our physical and virtual classrooms and laboratories.
To best capture the efforts and impact of all our staff, the Division of Research and Strategic Innovation will transform the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs into the Office of Research Administration and Engagement for the 2019-20 academic year. You will start seeing changes immediately, and we plan for a full launch by August 2019. We remain dedicated to supporting and expanding the ways that UWF faculty and students pursue excellence via research and scholarly activities, while fostering a connection between academic experts and off-campus partners. In all these efforts, we look forward to working with and supporting UWF research in all of its forms.
Matthew Schwartz, Ph.D.
Interim Assistant Vice President of Research Administration
Director of UWF Office of Research and Sponsored Programs