Grants To Fund Mobile Computer Lab and Gap Year Program

Suzanne Gollery and Andy Rost Receive $20,000 in Pilot Grants for SNC Science Department

Erin Wilson, Reporter

Despite the bad news of recent budget cuts at SNC, science professors Andy Rost and Suzanne Gollery managed to score $20,000 in pilot grants for their department through the Nevada INBRE program established by the the National Institute of Health (NIH), a federal agency that funds mostly bio-medical research. The INBRE program, or Idea Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, grants money to faculty at Nevada colleges who write the most compelling research proposals.

“The INBRE program is designed to bring money to the state for research. The program has reached the part of the grant where they can work with undergraduate schools like ours,” Rost said.

The NIH developed this program so that underfunded states like Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico and Arkansas to give them additional opportunities to write proposals for grants that support science research.

“Nevada qualifies for INBRE funding because we are in the bottom 50 percent of states ranked according to how many grants are submitted to the NIH, the federal organization tasked with supervising and funding medical research supported with U.S. tax dollars,” Gollery said.

An important funding mechanism within the program is the pilot grants, which support a variety of small-scale projects.

“There was an opportunity to write some proposals for the pilot grant project, so Suzanne Gollery submitted one and I submitted one,” Rost said.

Gollery’s proposal was to create a gap-year program to allow recently graduated science students to continue their research before starting graduate programs or starting full-time work. The students she had in mind for the initial gap-year program were Mike Schmidt, who graduated in May 2016, and Richard Evangelista, who will graduate in May 2017.

“I pitched the idea that it was innovative to have recent graduates with BS in science degrees be able to continue their senior research in a gap year,” Gollery said. “It is a rare medical research project that is completed in a single semester, or even a single year. I proposed that this would help Rich’s and Mike’s applications for graduate programs and help keep them in careers involving science research.”

Gollery said that Evangelista really wanted to be able to continue his research, but he and Schmidt “had met their degree requirements and SNC budgets are too tight to have recent alumni continue spending money on research.” She saw the INBRE pilot grant program as a way to get these funds without impacting SNC’s bottom line.

Although Rost had mentored Evangelista and Schmidt in their senior project research, Gollery agreed to write the proposal because the INBRE program only accepts one proposal per faculty member. Rost was already writing another proposal.

“It’s for a mobile computer lab where we would have a bunch of brand-new, state-of-the-art laptops loaded with software. They’ll all be the same, so if we do anything that involves computation, we could facilitate that. They would be stored in a mobile desk, charged up and ready to go,” Rost said.

While teaching science classes, Rost saw that his students came with various levels of computer skills and abilities, poor quality laptops, and laptops with old software. This would often turn his lesson plans into “daily battles with technology,” he said.

SNC didn’t have the funding for a mobile computer lab, so Rost applied for the INBRE grant money. He said that the new computers will make his classes run much more smoothly and provide a better learning experience for students.

“In class, I could say ‘Does everyone see the icon in the lower left?’ and everyone would know where that is. We’re trying to standardize everything,” Rost said.

For Gollery and Rost to receive their pilot grants, their first step was to submit a summary of their ideas with a cover letter. The INBRE pilot grant committee reviewed the summaries and chose the best candidates to proceed in completing the full grant application. After passing the first round of the process, the professors attended a mandatory workshop arranged by the INBRE administrator and Dr. Josh Baker, University of Nevada Medical School professor and chair of the INBRE grant committee, to learn about what to include in their applications.

Gollery and Rost submitted their proposals in February 2017 and will receive their INBRE funds in about a month.

“What I like about grant [writing] is that it’s entrepreneurial, and it keeps me engaged in my field. I’ve had a great time writing this proposal. It’s a lot of work, but it’s really satisfying and stimulating, and for us it has been really rewarding,” Rost said.

Steve Ellsworth, Diane Severance, and Christina Frederick also contributed in setting up the relationship between SNC and the INBRE program.