Three’s company: UM Dearborn faculty joins the MCubed research community

June 2, 2016

When Campus Director for Research Administration John Cristiano attended a one-day symposium on the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor campus, he encountered more than 200 innovative research ideas.

When Campus Director for Research Administration John Cristiano attended a one-day symposium on the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor campus, he encountered more than 200 innovative research ideas. He saw emerging collaborations as faculty discussed each other’s work.  And he listened to faculty and students deliver TED-type talks.

It was the public introduction to MCubed, a first-of-its-kind research program that distributes real-time seed funding to trios of faculty from at least two different campus units.

“There was so much energy and excitement around these research ideas—I wanted UM-Dearborn to be a part of that,” he said of the 2013 event. “I learned that MCubed was a great way to get people to collaborate together with a low barrier to entry. The length of time from when an idea is generated to getting funding is greatly reduced because of how the processes are. I knew the research model would be a good fit for our faculty too.”

Cristiano was right.

UM-Dearborn joined the virtual MCubed community in 2016 and faculty participated in the MCubed 2.0 cubing event in April.

To date, 27 faculty members are participating in nine research project cubes. And more are to be announced within the next month. MCubed 2.0 projects run through Dec. 31, 2017.

“A lot of new faculty members are eager to be involved and are coming from an environment where research was a big part of their education,” he said. “We want to offer forward-thinking opportunities to not only encourage their research, but also help create cross-discipline collaborations. MCubed is the right program at the right time for our faculty.”

Cristiano said MCubed is an unconventional, but well-thought-out funding process.

The UM-Dearborn Office of Research and Sponsored Programs provided the base funding for all colleges to participate and individual colleges chose to invest additional resources. MCubed does not have a formal review process to make decisions on projects that are selected for funding but relies on faculty engagement and interest to vet the research proposals.

“MCubed is a marketplace of ideas, and those ideas are reviewed by the community of Ann Arbor and Dearborn faculty,” he said. “Faculty members will only engage with projects that they think are interesting and worthwhile and where they have ideas and the expertise to contribute. Similarly, as the owner of a project idea, a faculty member can decide who has an interesting approach or expertise that they want to include as part of their cube. It’s not the traditional process for selecting proposals to be funded. But I’d argue that it’s really the ultimate in peer review.”

Provost Kate Davy said the MCubed process offers an avenue for intellectual collaborations for researchers who may not otherwise connect—which provides an opportunity for creative solutions.

“Those best suited to address problems and seize opportunities are teams of faculty who hail from diverse backgrounds and bring with them the confidence to embrace breadth and build partnerships across other fields,” Davy said.

In addition to the research aspect, Cristiano said he’s pleased with the involvement from faculty and staff from both campuses. And he’s looking forward to what the MCubed 2.0 partnership brings.

“Given that MCubed involves intellectual property, technology, finance and many other aspects of campus infrastructure, it’s been complex to add another campus to the MCubed system,” said Mark Burns, T.C. Chang professor of engineering and director of MCubed. “But it has been hugely rewarding to collaborate with Dearborn leaders to bring the talent, energy, and creativity of their faculty to bear on interdisciplinary research challenges.”

“There was a deep, university-wide commitment to including UM-Dearborn in MCubed 2.0., from President Mark Schlissel to the MCubed Leadership team (Mark Burns and Valerie Johnson) to the Senior Officers at UM-Dearborn” Cristiano said. “Everyone worked diligently to bring MCubed to our campus community.”

Congratulations to the following funded MCubed projects that involve U-M Dearborn faculty, some of which are also cross-campus collaborations:

Metal nanoshell synthesis by in situ generation of metal seeds on silica nanoparticle cores
Krisanu Bandyopadhyay CASL, Natural Sciences (LSA: Natural Sciences)
Ben Li, CECS, Mechanical Engineering (Engineering)
Kalyan Kondapalli, CASL, Natural Sciences (LSA: Natural Sciences)
Additional Faculty Collaborator: Gargi Ghosh, CECS, Mechanical Engineering

Unobtrusive pressure monitoring system to enhance brace wear compliance in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
Omid Dehzangi, CECS, Computer & Information Science (Engineering)
G. Ying Li Ann Arbor Medical School, Orthopaedic Surgery (Medicine)
William Grosky, CECS, Computer & Information Science (Engineering)

Engineering microenvironments to regulate mesenchymal stem cell secretome
Gargi Ghosh, CECS, Mechanical Engineering (Engineering)
Gary Luker Ann Arbor Medical School, Radiology (Medicine)
Joerg Lahann Ann Arbor College of Engineering, Chemical Engineering (Engineering)

Coding Instruction for Students with Disabilities
David Ryan Hill, CEHHS, Education (Education)
Stein Brunvand, CEHHS, Education (Education)
Mahesh Agarwal CASL, Math & Statistics (LSA:NaturalSciences)

Automotive applications of augmented reality glasses
Samir Rawashdeh, CECS, Electrical & Computer Engineering (Engineering)
Jun He, COB, Management Studies (Business)
Philipp Rauschnabel,COB, Management Studies (Business)
Additional Faculty Collaborator: Young Kyun Ro, COB, Management Studies

Food insecurity and the role of food pantries on college campuses
Natalie R Sampson, CEHHS, Health & Human Services (Public Health)
Harmony Reppond, CASL, Behavioral Sciences (LSA:SocialSciences)
Karen Antoinette Thomas-Brown, CEHHS, Education (Education)
Additional Faculty Collaborator: Carmel Price, CASL, Behavioral Sciences

Virtual test bed for connected and automated vehicles
Jie Shen, CECS, Computer & Information Science (Engineering)
Kiumi Akingbehin, CECS, Computer & Information Science (Engineering)
Yulia Hristova, CASL, Math & Statistics (LSA:NaturalSciences)

Socio-cyber-physical framework of future retail electricity market
Wencong Su, CECS, Electrical & Computer Engineering (Engineering)
Mengqi Wang, CECS, Electrical & Computer Engineering (Engineering)
Yi-Su Chen, COB, Management Studies (Business) 

Organizational recruitment websites, diversity messages, and the development of psychological contracts
Marie Waung, CASL, Behavioral Sciences (LSA:SocialSciences)
Joy E Beatty, COB, Management Studies (Business)
Jung Hyun Lee, COB, Management Studies (Business)

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