Research News

PIERS to further excellence in research and scholarship

A set of initiatives, collectively now referred to as PIERS, The Provost’s Initiatives to Enhance Research and Scholarship, will build off of existing practices and identify new approaches aimed at elevating Vanderbilt University’s international research profile and continuing to enhance the university’s competitiveness for research funding, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente announced today. PIERS is part of the Action phase of the Academic Strategic Plan.

“This is a transformative time for our research enterprise and we must continually evolve our support practices and resources to meet the needs of faculty and to make known the amazing discoveries taking place at Vanderbilt,” Wente said. “PIERS encompasses a set of initiatives, projects and efforts designed to elevate the university’s research profile globally and build upon our strength and investments in trans-institutional research. Our goal is to support a research environment that drives leaders and sponsors to consider Vanderbilt first when they seek to address the critical challenges of science and society through research, scholarship and public engagement.”

The initial set of PIERS efforts include:

  • Vanderbilt University Research Council: This recently announced council appointed by the provost will provide critical consultative input to advance all PIERS efforts. The VURC will also seek to identify and leverage current strengths and programs with a special emphasis on facilitating collaborations amongst all the faculty;
  • Leveraged Proposal Organization and Development, or LPOD: The program will provide a new service that provides support for faculty-led projects to move forward with the development of competitive proposals for prestigious external funding opportunities, while also enabling relationship-building activities with sponsors;
  • Vanderbilt IT and Research IT Collaboration: These efforts will be informed by the recommendations of a faculty advisory committee on research IT, and special projects will be advanced in consultation with VUIT and representatives from the academic units. Areas of focus will include basic research IT and advanced research core services;
  • Enhanced Common Resources: The initiatives will expand upon Vanderbilt’s relationships with federal agencies and foundations through coordinated efforts with the Office of Federal Relations and the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations; foster public-private partnerships for research through alliances with industry and regional entities such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory; advance pathways from discovery to invention and impact;
  • Website Reorganization and Design: The Research @ Vanderbilt website has been redesigned to better direct faculty, students and staff to resources and to better promote the ground-breaking discoveries and scholarship taking place. The site is currently in a soft-launch stage and undergoing continued updates and refinements. Feedback is welcome; and
  • Administrative Improvements: PIERS is designed to bring transparency, openness and streamlining to all research operations and processes including those for research cores, various forms of internal “seed” funding, and research administrative functions.

The initiative’s overall motto will be “shape opportunity; seize opportunity,” reflecting its interlinked goals of shaping the national research dialogue and seizing opportunities to support research and scholarship in an increasingly competitive international environment

Vice Provost for Research Padma Raghavan will work with Provost Wente to oversee PIERS’ implementation. “PIERS is designed to leverage our strengths, to explore new opportunities, and to provide direct support to our faculty for innovative, interdisciplinary research that aligns with the pillars of the Academic Strategic Plan,” Raghavan said. “These initiatives collectively further our efforts to position Vanderbilt as a leader in key thematic areas of research and scholarship and enhance our ability to attract and retain the very best faculty from across the nation and around the world.”