March 28, 2017
Throughout the reporting year, the Indirect Costs Program helped Laurier to maintain and improve facilities and equipment across programs and campuses.
For example, funds from the Indirect Costs Program were used to renovate two labs. These labs support research in microbial ecology and wetland ecology. In fact, they have facilitated the clustering of researchers with similar interests, promoting research partnerships. Research labs are vital to our natural scientists, allowing for analysis of field research activities and controlled experimentation. Having these labs provides valuable training opportunities for students at all levels. The Indirect Costs Program has enabled us to attract and retain exceptional researchers and students because of increased physical capacity.
In the Faculty of Arts, the Indirect Costs Program funds were used to subsidize critical technical support in relation to the installation and calibration of instruments to support Geography researchers. This technical support ensures that researchers are able to conduct field research with accuracy and ensure data integrity. Without the support of the Indirect Costs Program, researchers would be at a great disadvantage and risk losing crucial time and data. Ensuring that such technical support is available means that we can attract and retain outstanding researchers and students.
In the School of Business and Economics, the Indirect Costs Program funds were used to coordinate and install the Epson BrightLink Pro smart board system. Installing this system required complex wiring upgrades and project management. The BrightLink Pro smart board maximizes productivity and interactivity for our researchers. The addition of this system promotes remote collaboration allowing our researchers to partner more effectively.
The Indirect Cost grant remains invaluable for providing operating costs such as utilities and technical services. As research space expands and costs of labour increase, the grant helps ensure that research facilities are adequately maintained, especially given the higher cost of maintaining research space.
The Indirect Costs Program allowed us to add valuable resources to our library collection. Some examples are as follows:
In addition, the Indirect Costs Program supports scholarly communication through our institutional repository, Scholars Commons @ Laurier. The repository contains electronic theses and dissertations; open access faculty publications; several journals; and digitized archival collections. It supports the library’s scholarly communication program, which includes a strong program of outreach around author rights and open access, as well as close collaboration with the WLU Press around new publishing modes and opportunities. Such activities are increasingly becoming a requirement for funding agencies.
As the Laurier Library develops more services to support researchers, it becomes increasingly important to engage specific expertise in support of research endeavours. The library established a Library Research Graduate Assistantship Program that offers Laurier graduate students the opportunity to collaborate with librarians in order to enrich their educational experience and to contribute to and gain further expertise in their field of study. This program is intended to deepen students' research skills and give them the opportunity to acquire leadership experience and interpersonal effectiveness. Collegial collaborations and mentoring relationships with librarian advisors lead to joint publications and other valuable professional activities and experience. Without the support of the Indirect Costs Program, this initiative would not be possible.
Overall, the Indirect Costs Program covers 19.5% of the library's acquisitions and operating budget.
The Office of Research Services expanded in 2013/14, largely because of funds available through the Indirect Cost Program. Two new research facilitators were hired – one in the humanities and one in the social sciences. Both facilitators have PhDs in relevant fields. As a result, the amount of external funding received has increased. This additional support benefits SSHRC- and CIHR-eligible faculty who now receive the crucial one-on-one expert attention and support they require to navigate funding applications, requirements and outcomes. We continue to benefit from the Indirect Costs Program in order to fund a research facilitator in the natural sciences. The incumbent works directly with NSERC-eligible faculty and her expertise has consistently ensured increased funding levels. The increased funding has impacted the number of highly qualified personnel that Laurier researchers are able to hire and train.
In addition, these funds help us to maintain our knowledge mobilization officer position. The incumbent performs a number of roles, from working with faculty members and community organizations to developing community-based research proposals and promoting research results through Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools. She also assists with the knowledge mobilization plans on all relevant grant applications, thus ensuring our researchers understand the importance of reaching out to stakeholders. Through the expertise of this position, we have been active in the ResearchImpact network. Membership in ResearchImpact allows us to extend the reach of our research as well as contribute to best practice models for the knowledge mobilization community.
As our research capacity increases, the manager of research finance ensures that all contracts and programs adhere to relevant guidelines. This position also oversees all relevant reporting and money management. Without the Indirect Costs Program, our ability to manage the financial and reporting requirements would be greatly diminished, thereby negatively affecting our researchers.
As a small comprehensive university, Laurier would not be able to attain research excellence without the Indirect Costs Program. We appreciate and effectively use these funds in order to support research endeavours at every level. Our capacity for exceptional research administration is growing in order to match our increasing research outputs, in large part due to the Indirect Costs Program.
Personnel is the major cost driver in this area. At Laurier, three individuals work in the area of research compliance, overseeing research with humans and animals.
The research compliance officer ensures that all research is conducted in accordance with Tri-Council guidelines. He provides direct support to the Research Ethics Board (REB) and liaises with the Biosafety Committee to ensure certifications are in place before funds are released. In previous years, part of the research compliance officer's duties included research grant application support. Thanks to the Indirect Costs Program, we were able to dedicate his job full-time to compliance, as necessitated by the increased number of ethics applications. Without this change, research would be held up while waiting for REB review and approval.
The Indirect Cost Program also supports the salary of the ethics coordinator in the Department of Psychology, who assists with all human ethics applications from that department. This position helps ensure that research in psychology is in compliance with both the Tri-Council Policy Statement and research standards in the various streams of psychology.
With the support of the Indirect Costs Program, we were able to hire and support an administrator to perform all clerical and administrative tasks related to the running of the Animal Care Committee. This position also supports the research compliance officer.
In addition, the Indirect Costs Program helps pay annual maintenance on the electronic database used to facilitate review and approval of REB projects. We have implemented an online portal that allows faculty and students to expedite their applications. The database facilitates annual reviews, modification requests, and the timely closure of files.
Finally, the Indirect Costs Program helped with the costs incurred to bring several labs into HVAC compliance after a review by the Animal Care Committee. These funds also offset the cost of animal facilities’ staff.
The Indirect Costs Program supports our university-industry liaison officers (UILOs), who strategically link researchers with industry. Our UILOs work with researchers on industrial partnerships and the commercialization of results. Because of this year's Indirect Costs Program funding, we were able to support two invention disclosures (one from Biology and one from Mathematics), for which patent applications have been filed. Both UILOs played a critical role in crafting the patent applications in partnership with researchers, thereby reducing patent costs.
Our UILOs also actively supported five additional patent applications. One of Laurier’s most promising patent applications, in the area of advanced processing of industrial chemical waste, has entered the national phase in over 10 countries. It has also prompted a new relationship with an Ontario-based waste recovery company. This new partnership required a significant amount of the UILOs' time and resulted in an partnership agreement.
Having a Laurier representative play a bridging role between industry and faculty members is vital to creating partnerships with the private sector. Our UILOs act as industrial contract officers and, as such, they are involved in drafting, reviewing and negotiating partnership agreements for joint research projects. This reporting year, our UILOs facilitated over 20 partnership agreements with industry.
In addition, our UILOs review research agreements with various levels of government. This reporting year, for example, they facilitated two agreements with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources (Dept. of Biology), one agreement with the Alzheimer Society of Canada (Dept. of Kinesiology), and one with the Kitchener Centre for Family Medicine (Faculty of Social Work).
Without the Indirect Costs Program, such patents, partnerships and agreements would not have been possible. Such successes help Laurier attract and retain high-quality researchers.
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