Dr. Kay Wijekumar Hosts SUMMIT-Literacy Conference in Brownsville

In her ongoing research with Brownsville ISD, Dr. Kay Wijekumar, Professor in TLAC and Director of  the Center for Urban Schools Partnerships (CUSP) , hosted her SUMMIT Literacy Conference in Brownsville, Texas, at the Lopez Early College High School on September 30, 2017.  Dr. “Kay”, as she is affectionately called by teachers and administrators in the district, invited several CEHD faculty to also present at the conference.   Among the other faculty members speaking were Dr. Michael deMiranda, (TLAC) discussing the the importance of “teachers teaching together”; Dr. Julie Thompson, (EPSY) sharing her research on how best to improve learning for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder; Ms. Andrea Beerwinkle,  Senior Research Associate (TLAC) reviewed the importance of incorporating text structure strategies with textbook instruction.  Dr. Wijekumar’s  research work centers around the use of effective strategies for reading, writing and problem solving.  Also presenting at the day-long conference was Dr. Steve Graham and Dr. Karen Harris of Arizona State University, Dr. Carol McDonald of the University of California, Irvine, and Mr. Javier Garza of Brownsville ISD.  Presenting to an auditorium of over 400  Brownsville ISD teachers, grades K-12, the SUMMIT is another example of CEHD’s mission to translate research into practice.



Research Dean’s Corner

by Dr. Susan Bloomfield

Good News Department:  Our College faculty are a productive group!  I hear frequent updates from your department heads about faculty research activities, publishing in high impact venues and sharing your important findings at national and international meetings.   I recognize that external funding is only part of the story, but it remains the engine for supporting our work and striving for ever greater impact on our schools, our nation’s health (physical and mental), and learning and literacy.  Elsewhere in this CERD newsletter we highlight the many successful extramural applications that have been funded since June, 2017, totaling $17,864,309 of support.   Congratulations to all of you lead PI’s and Co-I’s on these awards!

Special kudos to Dr. Beverly Irby (EAHR and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs), who just received notice that her application to the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher and Leader  Preparation & Professional Development Program has been funded at $4,161,302 for the first of 3 years, for a total of > $13 million over the life of the project.  Her Co-Investigators in EAHR are Drs. Gwendolyn Webb-Hasan, Jean Madsen, Mario Torres, and Karen Smith.   This project builds on a strong national leadership by PI’s in the CEHD in pioneering improved approaches to English language learning in our public schools, with projects totaling over $57 million dollars in extramural funding since 2007.  Lead PI’s for those projects include (in EAHR) Dr. Irby; (in TLAC) Drs. Kay Wijekumar and Robert Capraro; and (in EPSY) Drs. Rafael Lara-Alecio , Shanna Hagan-Burke, Fuhui Tong, Hector Rivera, and Jorge Gonzalez (former EPSY faculty member).

Need some seed money for proof-of-concept data towards that next great idea?  This is the month to apply.  If you are developing a new idea or simply need more data or proof-of-concept to make your next external grant application more competitive, don’t overlook the value of internal funding from our university and our College.  We just released our Request for Applications (RFA) for this year’s round of Catapult seed grants, due November 1; see this link for the RFA and application.  New this year is a category directed to our Centers/Institutes to stimulate more collaborative research efforts and/or affiliate faculty development.

Secondly, the University’s Division of Research offers another seed grant opportunity, called Program to Enhance Scholarly and Creative Activities (PESCA) awards.   This year’s deadline for proposals is October 30, 2017. There is a PESCA Writer’s Workshop scheduled for Wed, Oct 11 from 1:00-3:00 in Room 3147 ILSB.

Earlier this year 4 teams in our College received PESCA awards; these teams were headed by Marielle Engelen (HLKN), Julie Thompson (EPSY), Michael Lemke (HLKN), and Quentin Dixon (TLAC).   Belated congratulations to those investigators!

Revisions to CEHD Policy on F&A (=IDC) Returns, Salary Savings and Course Buyouts:  On October 3, two important revisions to this policy were approved by a vote of the Dean’s Council.  The first is a change that standardized the course buy-out policy across all College departments.  Faculty who have a large enough portion of their FTE salary funded from extramural projects may arrange to ‘buy out’ of courses at the rate of 10% of their 9-month annual base salary (capped at $10,000) per 3-hour course.  A faculty member must still meet department-determined minimum teaching load requirements and, in negotiation with his/her department head, specify the area to which that percentage of their time will be reallocated (e.g., to research/ project administration or to service). Faculty may only use buy-outs to reduce course instruction loads and must continue to fulfill their ongoing service, student advising, and administrative duties. Buy-outs cannot be used to reduce one’s overall work effort or be construed as approval for a full-time research appointment.

The second change was a significant change regarding the timelines to spend down PI IDC returns/salary savings accounts.   PI’s are still encouraged to regularly spend down these accounts in order to avoid high balances accumulating, but there is now a clear mechanism in place to work with your department head to encumber excess funds (>$30,000) for whatever purpose you, the PI, feel is most important. This encumbrance is flexible; if your needs change later on, those monies can easily be directed for a different purpose.

The revised policy statement will be posted on our CERD Website by mid-October.  Please contact your department head or me if you have questions on this.

Qualtrics Survey on CERD Office Functions Results:   At our CERD Open House in late August (and via email), we requested your feedback on how well our office is meeting your expectations.   Forty-seven individuals responded, including 24 faculty and 7 research staff (from those respondents volunteering title/rank).  Thanks much to those of you taking the time to complete this survey and especially to those of you providing commentary.  Here is a short summary of quantitative results:

  • Of those who reported using pre- and post-award services in the CERD Office, 87% and 63% were extremely or somewhat satisfied with those services (respectively).
  • Of those using our pre-award services in the last year, 35% reported using CERD pre-award services more since our expansion in July 2016 than before that time.
  • Of the 10 individuals who reported working with our Outreach Coordinator, 90% were extremely or somewhat satisfied.
  • Only 62% of respondents were aware that our office has its own website and of those using the website, about half (52%) were “neither satisfied nor dissatisfied”, with 43% extremely or somewhat satisfied.

We were happy to hear some “thank-you’s” to specific staff in our office and are also grateful for those candid comments that pointed out where we can improve.  Chief concerns related to issues with research faculty or staff payroll processing, delays in negotiation and set-up of contracts by SRS, handling the inevitable crunch periods of high volume ordering, and last-minute rushes at SRS even when PI’s submit proposals early.  We have already started working on addressing these issues within our CERD office and will continue to meet regularly with pre- and post-award personnel at SRS to explore how we can improve communications and to share PI concerns about their services.  I will also welcome your feedback and comments at any time (sbloom@tamu.edu, 845-4787); I can’t effectively address those concerns I don’t hear about.

New Research Development Officer starts October 23, 2017:  You can read more about Mr. Gabe Rivera, who is filling our second RDO position, elsewhere in this newsletter.  Gabe has over 10 years experience in proposal development at New Mexico State University, including multi-million dollar applications with large teams.  We were impressed by both his budgetary skills and his pro-active approach to proposal development and look forward to welcoming him to our College R&D team.  Gabe will be the primary contact for EAHR and HLKN investigators, and will be working closely with Jesús Palomo to get up to speed on the Aggie systems critical to submitting your proposals.  We will be interviewing candidates this week for a 5th business staff member to solidify our Post-Award team’s capabilities in handling all your business-oriented requests on funded grants and contracts.

Best regards,

Sue Bloomfield

Associate Dean for Research



New Awards since June 1, 2017

Name Agency Title Funding
Larry Dooley (PI) Universidad Panamericana Training & Development Professional Certification Program, Certification in Project Management 19,665
Luis Ponjuan (Co-I); James Brumbelow, Civil Engineering (PI) Texas A&M Agrilife Research – NSF REU Site: Ecohydrology of a Tropical Montane Forest 50,383
Beverly Irby (Co-PI); Sharon Lynn Chu Yew Yee, Visualization (PI) National Science Foundation EXP: To Enact, To Tell, To Write: A Bridge to Expressive Writing through Digital Enactment 26,010
Fred Nafukho (Co-PI); Stanislav Vitha, Microscopy and Imaging Center (PI) Texas A&M Agrilife Research – USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Table to Farm: A Sustainable, Systems-based Approach for a Safer and Healthier Melon Supply Chain in the U.S. 150,381
Beverly Irby (PI); Gwendolyn Webb-Hasan (Co-I); Jean Madsen (Co-I); Mario Torres (Co-I); Karen Smith (Co-I) US Department of Education Accelerated Preparation of Leaders for Underserved Schools (A-PLUS): Building Instructional Capacity to Impact Diverse Learners 13,106,125
Beverly Irby (PI); Mario Torres (Co-PI) US Department of Education Preparing Academic Leaders: Teachers of English Learners Building Instructional Capacity– Project PAL 2,340,857
Kimberley Vannest (PI) Willis ISD – TEA Positive Behavior Support and Intervention Pilot 11,000
Dalun Zhang (PI); Cheryl Grenwelge, Family and Community Health (Co-PI) Texas Workforce Commission WACO amendment 133,152
Julie Thompson (PI); Co-PIs Cynthia Riccio (EPSY) and Jennifer Ganz (EPSY) Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Bridging Community, School, and Parent Connections for Effective Transition to School 499,910
Rafael Lara-Alecio (Co-PI) and Fuhui Tong (Co-PI) US Department of Education Accelerated Preparation of Leaders for Underserved Schools (A-PLUS): Building Instructional Capacity to Impact Diverse Learners 586,476
Rafael Lara-Alecio (Co-PI) and Fuhui Tong (Co-PI) US Department of Education Preparing Academic Leaders: Teachers of English Learners Building Instructional Capacity– Project PAL 226,966
Steve Martin (PI) and Stephen Crouse (Co-PI) City of College Station The City of College Station Fire Department Cardiovascular Health Profiles – 2017 72,690
Heather Clark (PI) Texas A&M University Health Science Center – Office of Attorney General Texas Rape Prevention and Education Program 43,242
Nicolaas Deutz (PI) University of Vermont – NIH Nutrition and Exercise in Critical Illness (The NEXIS Trial): A Randomized Trail of Combined Cycle Ergometry and Amino Acids in the ICU 112,697
Steven Riechman (PI) American Egg Board Nutrition, Vision, and Cognition in Health Study: Egg (IONHealth-Egg) 20,000
John Lawler (PI) NASA-Washington Attenuation of Space Radiation-induced Pro oxidant and Fibrotic Signaling in the Heart by Nutritional and Genetic Interventions: Adventures in Tissue Sharing 150,000
Heather Clark (PI) Episcopal Health Foundation Evaluating Capacity Building Efforts in Southeast Central Rural Texas Counties through Interorganizational Network Analysis 35,993
Nicolaas Deutz (Co-PI); Hans Schuessler, Physics and Astronomy (PI) TAMU College of Science Strategic Transformative Research Program: Assessment of Metabolism with Exhaled Breath Biomarkers 25,000
Whitney Garney (PI) and Idethia Shevon Harvey (Co-PI) Texas Department of State Health Services Department of State Health Services Tobacco Quit Line Evaluation and Outreach Assistance 140,000
Michael de Miranda (PI) Colorado State University-NSF Engineering and Education Partnership: Preparing the Next Generation of Cross-Disciplinary Trained STEM Teachers 47,437
Yeping Li (PI) Hangzhou Municipal Education Bureau A Short-term Advanced Training Program in Texas A&M University for Information Technology Teachers of Hangzhou High Schools in 2017 41,325
R. Malt Joshi (Co-PI) Tsinghua University Initiative Scientific Research Program Growth Mindset-based Early Reading Intervention 20,000
Michael de Miranda (PI) National Academy of Sciences K12 Teacher Credentialing in Engineering in the 50 States 5,000


Pre-Award Updates

New Research Development Officer to Join the CERD Office in October

Gabriel Rivera, an El Paso native earned his B.S in Biology and Master in Business Administration from New Mexico State University (NMSU). He worked at NMSU for almost 20 years, including four years as a student. He started his career as a business development specialist for NMSU’s Physical Science Laboratory; NMSU’s government contracting organization. He was a team member that successfully secured funding to form the nation’s first Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Test Center and NMSU’s largest contract, the operation of NASA’s Columbia Science Balloon Facility.

In 2007, Gabriel was one of the first members that formed NMSU’s Office of Research Development whose mission was to help faculty with proposal support. As a land-grant university, Gabriel worked with NMSU faculty and staff across the state of New Mexico as well as team members from other universities to secure research funding. He specialized in contract and grant-based funding, specifically focusing on NSF, NIH, Department of Education, DOD, and USDA.

Gabriel is a husband to his high-school sweetheart Audrey and father to his son Gabriel (8) and Ella (6).

Gabe’s office will be on the second floor of Heaton. You can email him at cehdpreaward@tamu.edu.



Catapult Seed Grant Program– AY 2018 

The CEHD Research & Development Office is pleased to offer another round of Catapult Grant funding to support the development of multi-disciplinary research-, teaching- or outreach-focused projects that will make a large impact on your discipline, our community and/or our nation. This builds on the day-long conversations about “impact” at our August 2017 College Retreat and, in particular, about how we can measure our impact.

New this year: we are adding an opportunity for our College Centers/Institute to apply for a Catapult award for activities and initiatives that will directly lead to expanding collaborative research productivity of their unit and to involving more junior as well as tenured faculty.

All CEHD faculty are encouraged to consider how our new Human Clinical Research Facility (HCRF) might be able to support your research questions.   From something as simple as collecting one blood sample from your subjects to more involved health/physiology outcomes, this facility can offer highly trained clinical research staff ready to help with your project.  Their services are affordable and can be wrapped into a Catapult proposal budget; all CEHD faculty get a 25% discount on the cost of every service offered.  Contact HCRF Executive Director Rick Kreider (rbkreider@tamu.edu) for more detailed information; view this link for an overview of the facility and its services.


  1. The Lead PI must hold a faculty appointment in the College; the majority of co-investigators will be College faculty but, if needed, expertise can be recruited from outside our College (within TAMU). Research professors of any rank will be eligible to serve as co-investigators or serve as lead PI, but only if they are not 100% supported currently on external funding as of January 15, 2018 (start date of these projects) and for the 17-month duration of the project
  2. Any lead PI currently holding a Catapult grant that is not yet completed is not eligible to apply as a lead PI on this round, but may serve as a Co-I on another PI’s Catapult application. If the lead PI has held a Transforming Lives or Catapult seed grant in the past, a final report must be on file to be eligible for this round of Catapult applications.
  3. No one CEHD faculty member may be listed as an investigator/collaborator on more than two Catapult AY 2018 applications (whatever the role).
  4. Only current Center/Institute Directors or their Associate Directors may apply for the Center-focused grants.


  • November 1, 2017: Deadline for submission (by 5 pm); send to whollis@tamu.edu
  • November 30, 2017: Selected proposals announced
  • January 15, 2018: Awards activated pending IRB/IACUC approvals (as required)
  • January 15, 2019: Interim reporting due (<1 page)
  • June 15, 2019: End of project
  • June 30, 2019: Final report due

Award Limits and Budget Information

Research, teaching, or outreach teams may request up to $30,000; a total of $270,000 is allocated to this funding mechanism. Allowed costs: support for students (incl. tuition), supplies, travel, consultant, participant costs;  faculty salary support may NOT be included.  Center/Institute Directors may request up to $5,000; a total of $30,000 is allocated to this effort.  Center-support budgets should reflect expenses directly related to promoting collaborative and/or multi-disciplinary research efforts and development of PI’s, especially junior faculty, affiliated with the Center.

Project Period

Catapult grants are for a maximum of 17 months. Remaining funds will be returned to the College within five days of the end of the grant period: June 15, 2019. Under rare and extenuating circumstances, a six-month, no-cost extension may be granted.

Evaluation Criteria

Faculty members in the CEHD Council of PI’s will review the research- and Center-focused proposals, and faculty members of the CEHD Faculty Advisory Council will review outreach/teaching-focused proposals based on the following criteria.

  1. Evidence that this work will lead to impact and influence in the disciplinary area, or on our local community, the state of Texas or the nation—what important next steps does this project enable?  Measurable outcomes demonstrating impact must be included.
  2. Feasibility of project within allotted time frame and budget
  3. Project team:  expertise, inclusion of multiple disciplines
  1. Priority in final selection will be given to Lead PI’s who have not yet received external research/contract funding and to PI’s who have not yet received a Catapult grant.
  2. [For Center-focused applications only:] likelihood that proposed activities/initiatives will stimulate increased faculty engagement (must include junior faculty) with this Center leading to, e.g., competitive external funding applications.


Those who receive a Catapult grant for FY 2018 will submit an interim report on January 15, 2019, and a final report on June 30, 2019, to Windy Hollis Turner, CERD Assistant Director, at whollis@tamu.edu.


Proposals should include the following and be submitted in ONE PDF:

  • Cover page with project information
  • Executive Summary (≤250 words)
  • Body of proposal (≤3 pages maximum)
    • Rationale/Background
    • Specific Aims/Objectives
    • Project Activities/Study Design
    • Impact of this work and how you will measure it – does it lead to a larger/more effective service project, an external grant application (specify agency and proposed date of submission), expanded activities of your Center/Institute?
  • Budget with justification details; specify responsibilities of each investigator
  • Biosketches of Project Team Members (≤2 pg each)

Click Here for Catapult RFA

Click Her for Catapult Application

Deadline:  5:00 pm CST on November 1, 2017.  No late submissions will be accepted.

Did you know you can affiliate a Center/Institute with your proposal?

If you are submitting a proposal the Lead Organization will always be your department, but you can also list a Center/Institute under the Lead Organization.   The majority of the centers in CEHD have a center designation/abbreviation.  CERD is in the process of updating or establishing these designations for each center.  Please let your CERD pre award person or your SRS pre award contact know when you would like to affiliate a proposal to a center.

Researchers you may have noticed when you log into Maestro that it has a new look.  This new look is a result of feedback received from faculty/researchers.  You can toggle back to the old Maestro screens by selecting the M (Maestro) at the far right of the header.  This enhanced portal has many exciting navigation features.  To learn more about these new features please see link to Videos and Documentation as well as Classes that are offered at the bottom of the Dashboard page.

Considering an application to the NIH?  Read this!  

  A hot topic of conversation among NIH-funded PI’s and many university presidents is the pending expansion in the NIH’s definition of  “clinical trial”, due to take effect January 25, 2018.  This is important to anyone considering NIH for funding, since projects including an intervention (broadly defined) that has a health outcome (including cognitive behaviors) might now be subject to the clinical trials definition.  Our Interim VPR, Karen Butler-Purry, forwarded a letter recently sent from 4 major associations representing AAU and land-grant public universities and medical schools that vigorously protests this expanded definition of clinical trials.  This letter eloquently outlines the negative consequences for researchers, sponsored research offices and universities.  That letter is linked below.


Internal Competitions You Should Know About!

PESCA: Deadline October 30, 2017

Arts & Humanities Fellows Program:  Deadline January 8, 2018

CONACYT  (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia):  Deadline October 23, 2017


Post Award Updates

FY 2018 Payroll

Fall 2017 / Spring 2018 payroll entries have been completed; however, if you are a PI or Co-PI on a newly setup research account, or have questions about your effort, please feel free to contact the designated post-award representative (listed below).

Did You Know – New Research Hires

New staff hires paid from research accounts (4xxxxx-xxxxx) are administered by the CERD post-award team.  The hiring process can take several weeks and sometimes a couple months to complete and involves many payroll documents and several levels of approval.  If you are interested in hiring new staff, please plan accordingly and provide information to the CERD post-award team as soon as possible.  Pay range and proposed duties are the first information needed, we can then assist with finding the correct title and helping create the job posting.

More information on Research Titles is available on the Division of Research website found at http://vpr.tamu.edu/business-services/staffing

As for graduate assistants (GARs) and student workers, hiring these individuals does not require a formal search, but the CERD post-award assists in placing these individual on payroll.  Required information to hire GARs and student workers includes name, email address, pay rate, start and end date of employment, account number, UIN (if available), and tuition amount (if GAR).


The Post-Award Team

Clayton Holle, Business Administrator (EPSY) – Post-Award Manager

Adriana Burnett,  Business Coordinator (TLAC/HLKN)

Pamela Parks, Business Coordinator (HLKN)

Mary Seifert, Business Coordinator (EAHR/EPSY)



Outreach Coordinator Updates

The fall semester has already been busy with lots of work out in the local community as well as down in Houston.  In September, Laura Ruebush, Research Associate at  The Center for Translational Research in Aging and Longevity and Amy Jurica Hinnant, Outreach Coordinator attended a local Rotary club meeting where they offered nutritional information about the importance of protein in the diets of seniors as well as provided information about the opportunities for people to participate in the various studies currently happening at CTRAL.  The meeting provided an opportunity to reach out to members of the organization as a community service as well as seek potential participants for research. Other outreach presentations during the past month have taken place in Calvert and Navasota at the local senior citizen centers with Dr. Shevonne Harvey as she continues her study in understanding the geographic affects and social supports  in self-management behaviors among African Americans with type-2 diabetes.

A little further down the road in Houston,  Amy and  new faculty member Dr. Carly Gilson, visited the transition programs of the special education department of Spring Branch ISD.  Coming from Vanderbilt, Dr. Gilson, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology,  has been in College Station just a few months but is already getting out into schools.  Her research interests include employment-related social skills for adolescents and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as supporting individuals and families through school-to-work transitions.  While in Spring Branch ISD, Dr. Gilson was able to meet and brainstorm with Mrs. Ann Conkling, Special Education Coordinator of the district’s Work Based Learning programs including APT (Achieving Positive Transition) and TOPS (Transitioning Onward Promotes Success). Plans to provide professional development to faculty and staff as well as possible research opportunities were discussed.    Pictured below are Dr. Gilson, Mrs. Conkling and APT student Crystal Garza.  The partnership with SBISD is a direct result of the recent MOU signed between The Center on Disability and Development, led by Dr. Dalun Zhang and Spring Branch ISD  facilitated by the CERD office.