Texas Tech University
Scholarly Messenger
Major Faculty Awards Highlight Excellence, Help University Achieve Goal
By Sally Logue Post

Three Texas Tech faculty members have received National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Awards.
Brian Ancell, associate professor in the Department of Geosciences; Amir-Hamed Mohsenian-Rad, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Siva Vanapalli, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering will receive funds to further their individual research.

The Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is one of the NSF’s most prestigious awards and is given to junior faculty who exemplify the integration of excellent teaching while producing outstanding research.

“The NSF CAREER Awards are extremely competitive,” said Guy Bailey, Texas Tech president. “These awards provide foundational support to help a young faculty member launch his or her research career. For a university to have three recipients in a single year is outstanding.”

“Such awards have the potential to affect an individual’s career in an extremely positive way,” said Bob Smith, Texas Tech Provost. “We know that the success of these three also will reflect very favorably on Texas Tech.”

Faculty Award Significance
This is the second time that Texas Tech has had three faculty members win the CAREER Award in the same year. A total of 15 faculty members have won the honor at the university.
“Less than five percent of those applying for CAREER Awards are selected,” said Taylor Eighmy, senior vice president for research. “To have three Texas Tech faculty members achieve this honor this year speaks volumes about the talent of our faculty.”

The CAREER Award also is one of several major faculty awards that will help Texas Tech achieve its goal of reaching Association of American University (AAU)-like status.

“AAU universities have several criteria in common, including a sizeable number of nationally recognized awards,” said Eighmy. “Career awards are one of the honors that help us achieve that benchmark.”

Proposal Development Program
Faculty members often apply multiple times for major national awards before achieving success. To help negotiate the process, the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) hosted the NSF CAREER Forum for junior faculty in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, the forum was expanded to include other agencies supporting junior investigator research and scholarship awards.

The forum has featured panels of Texas Tech faculty who received the CAREER award on their first try, those who took multiple applications to receive the award and panels of Texas Tech faculty members who have previously served as NSF program directors. Program officers at NSF also have attended the forum.

“The forum is aligned with a nine-month Proposal Development Program designed to help faculty members take an idea and develop it into a successful proposal,” said Michael San Francisco, associate vice president for research (faculty development). “The OVPR, in collaboration with departments and colleges, supports travel to agencies for faculty who participate in this program so that they can build relationships with funding agencies.”

A new Proposal Development Program will begin in September and is open to all faculty in all disciplines.

“This will be out third year for the Proposal Development Program,” said San Francisco. “Its success is largely due to the support and experience of many of our senior and junior faculty who serve on panels, as coaches and proposal reviewers.”

The university has chosen to offer financial incentives to faculty who receive an award on a list of 47 approved by the university. Receiving one of the approved awards means a permanent $5,000 increase in annual salary and up to $25,000 in one time living expense allocation, if applicable.