UNO research grants placed on chopping block


By Josie Loza

When Melanie Trecek-King heard the University Committee on Research’s funding was cut, she was shocked.

The committee learned Sept. 27 that its budget had been cut, and the remaining funds had been frozen.

The mission of the University Committee on Research is to encourage and stimulate campus-wide research efforts. It does this by implementing procedures for the allocation and distribution of available research monies based upon criteria designed by the committee.

Trecek-King, a graduate student in the biology department, received two grants through the committee.

The amounts were under $350, but they paid for many supplies and travel for her study sites.

Trecek-King has been doing research for nearly two years.

Her thesis is titled, “Woody plant communities of the Iowa Loess Hills: Extant composition and expansion from 1859 to 2000.”

She learned about UCR through her professor.

“I thought it was great,” Trecek-King. “It’s funding to students that normally wouldn’t be able to afford.”

John Bartle, chairman of the University Committee on Research, said most of the money the committee gave out was for student and faculty research.

“It’s great to see what students are doing in terms of research,” he said.

The committee was created upon recommendation of the Faculty Senate in 1978. Its purpose is to help faculty or students who have research projects they think could compete nationally.

Many members don’t have the funding to research some of their projects, so the committee awards those projects grants.

Money allocated for students and faculty mini-grants last year alone was $12,397. The total committee budget for this year was $148,809, which was split between semesters.

Bartle was disappointed when he learned of the cuts, but at the same time understood the need for reductions. He said there was no personnel attached to the program, so he could see why its funding was frozen.

As a result of the cuts, the committee decided to not accept research proposals for the Nov. 1 faculty deadline, nor for the monthly student and faculty mini-grant proposals.

Later this semester, the committee will evaluate the situation to see if it is possible to accept proposals for the spring round.

Bartle said the major effect of the cuts would be that some good research won’t get done and some faculty won’t apply for an external grant.

“Research enhances teaching,” Bartle said. “There is no question that I can point to faculty and say their career has been significantly enhanced.

“The university community and the state will miss opportunities to see what these researchers could bring,” Bartle said.

In his experience, Bartle said the best teachers he’s had were those who brought research into their classroom.

“They brought the class life,” he said. “One of the things a university should be all about.”

Without such research, Bartle said, “the investment we make both faculty and students is there for diminished.”

Echoing his thoughts, Trecek-King said there is a loss to the community as a result of that.

“The research is the backbone of the department,” she said. “If that’s not supported, then there will be problems.”


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