Internal Funding Sparks Research Opportunities at Kettering University

These internal research awards are invaluable in that they provide faculty with the necessary resources to generate the required data to compete successfully for external funding.”

Kettering University’s internal funding structure is spurring larger statewide and national research projects that provide opportunities for faculty collaboration and potentially allows undergraduate students to engage in laboratories across campus.

Each year, Kettering awards $30,000 in Internal Research Fellowships to help faculty establish and develop their laboratories and collect preliminary data to catalyze larger research initiatives. In 2016, five projects involving 13 faculty were funded by the Graduate School and Research department.

“At the national level, scholarly merit represents one of the most important factors in deciding which research projects get funded. One effective way to demonstrate scientific merit is with preliminary data,” said Dr. Scott Reeve, Dean of Graduate School and Research. “Thus, these internal research awards are invaluable in that they provide faculty with the necessary resources to generate the required data to compete successfully for external funding.”

The projects have facilitated collaboration between faculty in Applied Biology, Physics, Chemical Engineering and Computer Engineering. The projects range from Dr. Jim Cohen’s examination of mutant variation in apple trees to Dr. Jaerock Kwon’s exploration of touch-enabled virtual rooms to Dr. Michelle Ammerman’s examination of the antibacterial and anti-cancer properties of polyphenolics.

Dr. Susan Farhat, in collaboration with three other faculty members - Dr. Cheryl Samaniego, Dr. Ali Zand and Dr. Mary Gilliam - is attempting to apply plasma surface engineering to biomedical applications.

“The funding we've received from the Internal Research Fellowship has been great for starting new research projects,” said Farhat, a Chemical Engineering professor. “We have been able to hire undergraduates to contribute to the project and have generated the preliminary results necessary to seek out larger grants from external funding sources.”

In addition to the Fellowships, the Provost’s Office provides matching funds for qualifying projects. In 2015-16, the Provost’s Office provided $7,400 in matching funds to five different projects led by Ammerman, Cohen, Dr. Steve Nartker, Dr. Salomon Turgman-Cohen and Dr. Lihua Wang.

“Research is integral to Kettering’s growth strategy, a pivotal part of attracting world-class faculty and students,” said Dr. James Zhang, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Kettering University. “Research informs teaching and allows faculty members to bring cutting edge equipment and knowledge into the classroom.”

Additionally, Dr. Kevin Bai, Electrical Engineering, was awarded the prestigious Rodes Professorship in 2015-16. The award provided Bai with $7,500 in funding which was utilized to expand his research on electric converters. The Professorship also funded a graduate researcher and directly contributed to eight academic research publications.

The Rodes Professorship has two-year term and is awarded annually to Kettering faculty. Past recipients of the awards also include Dr. Farnaz Ghazi-Nezami and Dr. Terri Lynch-Caris in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Gilliam and Farhat in Chemical Engineering; and Dr. Prem Vaishnava in Physics.

“A primary goal for these internal research awards is to make faculty more competitive for external funding,” Reeve said. “Kettering University is dedicated to reinvesting a portion of the external funds received back into the research enterprise. So as the number of external awards received grows, the pool of reinvestment available increases, which allows a greater number of faculty to receive seed money to generate preliminary data.”