Texas Tech University

Seed Grants program helps focus on the importance of international collaboration and research

The International Research and Development Division (IRDD) of the Texas Tech University Office of International Affairs was formed to assist the development of multi-investigator, multi-disciplinary international projects. In support of this mission, the Grants Administration unit works with faculty to identify and disseminate international research and development grant opportunities, and to help develop and submit large, multi-disciplinary proposals to funding agencies. IRDD also administers the International Research Seed Grants program. The grants provide seed funding allowing faculty to develop new international research collaborations leading to externally-funded projects. Awards are generally limited to $2,000 or less, but up to $5,000 may be available for more ambitious projects with strong academic unit support and cost sharing.

Applications have come from across campus units and disciplines. In 2015, winners includes Dr. Jorge Bravo-Salazar from Biology, Dr. Guillermo Araya from Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo from Human Development and Family Studies, Dr. William Lan from Educational Psychology and Leadership, Dr. Naima Moustaid-Moussa from Nutritional Sciences, Dr. David Lawver from Agricultural Education and Communications, Dr. Mary Murimi from Nutritional Sciences, Dr. Sohyun Park from Landscape Architecture, Dr. David Sand from Physics, and Dr. David Weindorf from Plant and Soil Science.

"The grant allowed me to travel to China and found new partners from Beijing Forestry University," said Dr. William Lan, "where the Chair of the Psychology Department agreed to help me collect data through his connections. Also, he encouraged his students and faculty to learn about my research and participate in the study if possible, which enhanced my original research project where I had only one partner from the Psychology Department at Yanbian University." According to Lan, "the grant benefitted me greatly in my international collaboration. First, it helped me share my research project, including its rationale and procedure with my Chinese colleagues to draw their interest. Second, I had the opportunity to train the graduate students in the Chinese universities in research skills who would assist me in the research project. Third, faculty and graduate students in the Chinese universities, although were easy to participate in the study, were likely to be occupied by their own teaching assignments and research projects. With me visiting them, they devoted more time and energy to the collaboration," according to Dr. Lan

For Dr. Naima Moustaid-Moussa, "this collaboration helped expand the scope to our research with global perspectives. We were able to submit 2 abstracts for a national and international conference, one of them presented by our graduate student and the other by our collaborator in Sri Lanka. We hope to generate additional preliminary data for additional external funding to expand this project. Last but not least these collaborations opened additional opportunities for other collaboration such as study abroad," said Dr. Moustaid-Moussa. The IRDD seed grant was important to Moustaid-Moussa's research, "It helped expand research opportunities and collaborations for me as well as my students, research team, and for my collaborators. Such collaborations also help expand and dissect scientific issues of mutual interest; in this case obesity which is a worldwide epidemic. A TTU graduate student and other TTU faculty are engaged in this collaboration, which will lead to publications, scientific presentations on both sides and contribute to our scientific knowledge," said Moustaid-Moussa.

The Seed Grant has helped increase focus on the importance of international collaboration and research. The International Research and Development Division is in the process of evaluating applications for the 2016 Seed Grants program.