It is our pleasure to introduce this year’s Research & Discovery magazine. This magazine celebrates the research, scholarship, and creative activity of our faculty and research scientists. We have much to celebrate. Our sponsored research portfolio continues its steady growth—from $143 million in sponsored research expenditures in fiscal year 2007 to $172 million in fiscal year 2008, an increase of over 20 percent. This issue will acquaint you with some of the projects that make up this sponsored research portfolio, as well as with other scholarly achievements of GW’s faculty. You will, for example, read about solar energy and the issues surrounding it, work to prevent and increase survival after motor vehicle crashes, ways in which the U.S. stock market focuses companies on short-term profits rather than long-term interests, the evolution of “hobbits” and their relationship to humans, wide-ranging studies of historical, religious, and political issues in the Middle East, the multifaceted partnership between GW and the Children’s National Medical Center, and explorations by GW undergraduates of rare book manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Donald R. Lehman
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Carol K. Sigelman
Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies and Academic Affairs and Acting Chief Research Officer
It is an especially exciting time for research at The George Washington University because President Steven Knapp has emphasized since he entered the scene in 2007 that moving GW forward as a research university is one of his top priorities. He has demonstrated his commitment in three major ways. First, he announced his plan to hire a vice president for research who will be charged with helping to realize the research goals laid out in the University’s Strategic Plan for Academic Excellence, creating new synergies between medical and nonmedical research, and developing other new initiatives and enhancements. At this writing, we are on the brink of selecting this new leader.
Second, President Knapp committed $5.4 million over three years to address needs expressed to him by members of the research community when he arrived on campus. This funding will allow the hiring of more school research administrators and central support staff to free investigators from the administrative tasks associated with seeking external funding and conducting sponsored research so that they can concentrate on their research. The funding also will be used to grow the University Facilitating Fund, which supports faculty research projects, many of which position recipients to seek funding from external sponsors; increase the Research Enhancement Fund, which provides needed support to particularly excellent and promising centers and institutes; and create a special Startup Fund to help seed new research ventures likely to lead to bigger things. The first wave of this new funding is already having an impact in 2008-09.
Third, the president is moving ahead on study of what it would take to construct a state-of-the-art science and technology building on GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus. In combination with expansion of research groups at the University’s Virginia Campus, the envisioned complex would provide the growing room needed by faculty members in the sciences, engineering, and biomedical sciences and facilitate cross-disciplinary collaborations.
An example of what is ahead is GW’s plan to build on faculty expertise across several disciplines relevant to meeting the nation’s energy needs by creating a basic energy sciences and technology institute at the Virginia Campus. The centerpiece of this initiative is the hiring of three prominent researchers—one in chemistry (recently hired Stuart Licht), one in mechanical and aerospace engineering (Stephen Hsu), and one in physics (to be hired this year). This initiative and other such efforts to build centers of interdisciplinary strength are likely to lead the way in what promises to be a transformative leap forward in GW’s research enterprise in the coming years.
We hope that you enjoy this issue of Research & Discovery and that you will contact us if you want to know more.