Story written by Jacob Bennett at CSUN Today.
California State University, Northridge faculty are engaged in an incredible range of research and scholarship, advancing their fields, bringing external funding to their research and providing students with powerful opportunities to do work outside the classroom.
CSUN honored the faculty and staff who serve as the lead researchers on funded projects — called principal investigators (PI) — at the 2018 Principal Investigators Recognition Event on May 10 at the Orange Grove Bistro.
The event recognized 204 PIs and 370 sponsored projects across a wide spectrum of disciplines. In 2017, 501 undergraduate and graduate students were employed by externally funded grants and contracts, amounting to $1.98 million paid to CSUN students. An additional $2.98 million was distributed as scholarships and financial assistance stipends to 560 students.
The grants came from private companies, government agencies and nationally known organizations, including the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation. Research and project areas included examinations of grandparents serving as parents, experiments with Salmonella bacteria to selectively kill tumor cells, and programs to assist victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.
“You should take pride in what you are doing to expand your disciplines and fields, adding to the body of knowledge and scholarship, which is an important role of an academic institution,” said CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison. “You are all truly doing innovative, groundbreaking work, and it is exciting to be at ground zero in so many interesting areas of inquiry and fields of research.”
Harrison thanked the professors, faculty, Research and Sponsored Programs and The University Corporation, who came together to put on the event and celebrate the research and achievements of CSUN’s PIs.
Sheree Schrager, managing director of Research and Sponsored Programs, also recognized managers of academic resources, supportive administration officials, University Advancement staff members who connect faculty with philanthropic funding, college grants officers and CSUN’s central grants officer. But she kept the spotlight on PIs.
“It’s difficult to explain just how hard that work is if you haven’t done it — the questions that keep you up at night, the writing and revising, and revising again, on top of your already-packed workload. The months of effort that sometimes just come down to whether you get the happy reviewer or the cranky reviewer that day,” said Schrager. “And that’s before you even get the award and have to deal with the awesome, terrifying responsibility of doing all those lofty things you claimed you would!”
Edith Chen, professor of Asian American studies and PI, displayed her research team’s poster on a project funded by the National Institutes of Health to study the relationship between assimilation, acculturation, socioeconomic status and diabetes prevalence in Asian American populations. The interdisciplinary research project involves CSUN’s Department of Asian American studies, Department of Health Sciences and the Los Angeles community-based organization Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement. The project, Chen said, is an example of how one successful university research project can lead to another: Funding was secured using pilot project data from a prior National Institutes of Health BUILD PODER grant.
Chen said she appreciated that the university took time to acknowledge research projects, and that the event was a great opportunity to take a break from teaching and research to see what faculty members from other departments are doing.
“It’s nice to look at the various research projects coming from so many different parts of campus,” Chen said. “Knowing the amount of work that goes into writing a grant, it’s hats off to fellow PIs who were able to get a grant to further their research.”