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     This periodic e-newsletter is designed to provide information about important academic issues including academic initiatives, program updates, resource allocation, research and scholarship, individual and collective achievements, challenges and opportunities.

Student mentorship alive and well in OU research labs

Dr. Amy Banes-Berceli, an OU alum and professor of biology, works with a student in her research lab.
     Dr. Amy Banes-Berceli, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, is researching the complex relationship of certain hormones and their molecular mechanisms to the onset of hypertension and renal and vascular complications in diabetes and hypertension. It's challenging work, but she's far from alone in tackling it.

     Presently, six undergraduate, three master's and two doctoral students are assisting in the research. This academically diverse and mutually beneficial collaboration is something Dr. Banes-Berceli is not only willing to devote extra time to, but enthusiastically endorses as a means of advancing student success and broader interest in the sciences.

     "This is one of the reasons I came here to Oakland – the strong emphasis we put on student research," she explained. "They're very enthusiastic. They're like big sponges, just wanting to soak up everything they can."

     Through her work, Dr. Banes-Berceli has learned that inhibiting an intracellular signaling protein called JAK2 reduces hypertension and other complications tied to diabetes. The question she and her students are now hoping to answer is how and why this effect occurs. The team is in the preliminary phases of the study, but sees tremendous practical benefit to eventually understanding the science at work.

     Student researchers in the lab get full exposure to the research process, from identifying critical questions and designing experiments to discussing research progress with colleagues and writing, publishing and presenting their findings.

     "The whole purpose of this is to have them do the science and talk with their peers about what they're learning," Dr. Banes-Berceli said. "While we teach them every aspect of this process, we're also teaching them to think critically about other people's data so that they can begin to think critically about their own data."

     While she is appreciative for the support she gets through having student researchers assist her, Dr. Banes-Berceli also garners a great deal of professional fulfillment from seeing students grow both in terms of their intellect and professional aspirations.

     "Essentially, I think we're teaching them the survival skills they'll need to become successful scientists," she said. "It's very rewarding to see them get as excited as they do, and I think in the end they'll be better doctors and scientists for it."

GCSR staff striving to find the perfect balance

     As the university looks to name a new Vice Provost for Research, a key criterion in candidate considerations will be the ability to effectively balance the needs of Oakland's principle investigators and the university's obligation to comply with federal regulations and granting agency guidelines.

     "Trying to achieve that balance is very important for anyone in this position," said Dr. Brad Roth, interim vice provost for research. "Ultimately, our primary concern is ensuring that investigators can make the most of the grant opportunities they have."

     Almost all of the university's external and all of its institutional grant funding passes through the Office of Grants, Contracts and Sponsored Research. In short, the office promotes research and scholarship by assisting university faculty in every step of the process – from identifying and pursuing available grants to ensuring successful administration of secured awards.

     Kathryn Wrench, director of grant and contract administration, said she and others in the office communicate available grant opportunities on both an individual and general basis, and each month the office provides investigators with training to use grant opportunity research software. The office also works to promote broader awareness of institutional funding, including the Undergraduate Research Award offered through the Office of the Provost.

     Another service GCSR offers is pre-award counseling. Assistance can be as broadly tailored as grant writing procedure and strategy, and as specifically tailored as clarifying applicable federal regulations and granting agency guidelines. The process also improves communication, which can help with pursuing support from various agencies and departments, finding evaluators and consultants, and reaching out to potential project collaborators. GCSR grant officers assist with project budgets and work to ensure that all administrative, sponsor and institutional requirements are met prior to proposal submission.

     Among services GCSR provides after funding has been allocated are approvals for purchasing supplies and equipment, approval of human resource assignments, effort certification, project- and aggregate-level research reporting and official communication with federal regulators and granting agencies. With the responsibility to oversee training and compliance, officers strive to ensure that applicable requirements are met and supported throughout the project lifecycle.

     Wrench said university investigators should feel free to seek assistance from the office for any aspect of their work, and above all, write grant proposals even if the effort may not be rewarded with funding in every instance.

     "There's a lot of value in seeking the funding, because you get the experience. The more experience you have, the more likely it is that you'll get the grant in the future," she said. "You also build networks and gain insight you might not have otherwise. Simply going through the process is very valuable."

     In a general sense, GCSR works to support investigative work by identifying resources to meet facility, equipment and other research support needs.

     "Our goal is to be as responsive as we can," Dr. Roth explained. "The research we're doing here is valuable on so many levels, and it's very important that we support it in every way we're able."

     To learn more about GSCR and the services it provides, visit, e-mail to or call (248) 370-2552.

Winter 2011



Prospective students explore education and innovation at OU

   The SECS recently welcomed prospective Oakland University students to learn about the academic and research opportunities it offers, as well as a host of resources available to them. 
   Engineering and Computer Science Day is also designed to give students a taste of campus life.
   By exposing students to intriguing projects and activities in science and technology, organizers hoped to show students how they can get involved and engaged in the OU community.

Kudos to faculty standouts

   Congratulations are in order for Dr. Phyllis Rooney, who had a scholarly article she wrote nearly 20 years ago published in a special, commemorative issue of Hypatia, the premier journal in feminist philosophy.
   All faculty and staff involved in the Master of Exercise Science program also deserve acknowledgement, given the outstanding enrollment growth it has garnered.
   Compliments go to Dr. Linda Pavonetti, as well. She recently was elected as the lone American to the 10-member executive committee of the International Board on Books for Young People.

The Registry of Distinction finds another spotlight

   Registry of Distinction article summaries can now be found on the faculty page of the Sails of Success website. To submit news about recent awards, honors, publications, grants and presentations, just click on the Registry of Distinction logo located in the upper right corner of the page.

Office of the Provost

Sails of Success

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     Office of the Provost
205 Wilson Hall
2200 North Squirrel Road
Rochester, MI 48309-4401
(248) 370-2190 | (248) 370-4475 fax