Event touts sharp growth in campus research community

336 PIs honored during annual Sponsored Research Services reception

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A. Sue Weisler

Winners of the first-ever RIT Start Award were recognized during the annual Principal Investigators Reception on Feb. 16. The competitive award is given to tenure-track faculty who demonstrate research excellence within their first two years on campus.

As additional members of the RIT community join the ranks of principal investigators, a celebration commemorating their achievements has found some additional elbowroom. University Gallery, adjacent to the Vignelli Center for Design Studies, became the venue for the annual Principal Investigators Reception hosted by Sponsored Research Services on Feb. 16.

A record 336 RIT researchers secured funding, serving as either principal or co-principal investigators for active awards in fiscal year 2011. That represents a 12 percent increase in participants from the previous year. Their efforts helped generate $52.5 million in research funding to the university last year.

“RIT has welcomed a number of new tenure-track faculty members in recent years,” states David Bond, director of Sponsored Research Services. “Their contributions have made an immediate impact on our ability to engage in cutting-edge research despite an increasingly competitive landscape.”

Among those receiving special recognition at the event were seven new inductees as PI Millionaires. This designation is awarded to RIT researchers who have been achieved funding of $1 million or more since 2000. This year’s millionaires include:

  • David Axon, College of Science
  • Scott Brown, Chester F. Carlson for Imaging Science
  • Mark Coleman, Golisano Institute for Sustainability
  • Mark Fairchild, College of Science
  • Stefan Preble, Kate Gleason College of Engineering
  • Paul Stiebitz, Golisano Institute for Sustainability
  • Jan van Aardt, Chester F. Carlson for Imaging Science

Sponsored Research Services has recognized 72 millionaires since 2001.

New this year, Sponsored Research initiated the RIT START Awards, short for “strategic acceleration of research for tenure-track faculty.” Eight faculty members were recognized at the event with these competitive awards stemming from research achievements tallied within their first two years at RIT. Recipients include:

  • Gregory Babbit, School of Life Sciences
  • Amanda Bao, College of Applied Science and Technology
  • Elizabeth Cherry, School of Mathematical Sciences
  • Jinwei Gu, Chester F. Carlson for Imaging Science
  • Kara Maki, School of Mathematical Sciences
  • Hinda Mandell, College of Liberal Arts
  • Jessica Pardee, College of Liberal Arts
  • Tywanquila Walker, College of Liberal Arts

Nabil Nasr, associate provost and director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, offered the event’s keynote address. Nasr discussed the recent $13.1 million award from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which supports construction of the new GIS research facility.