Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 71.94
Liaison Dennis Cochrane
Submission Date Dec. 19, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Virginia Tech
AC-10: Support for Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Martin Daniel
Associate VP for Research & Innovation
Office of the VP for Research & Innovation
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability? :
Yes

A brief description of the student research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Students participate in sustainability research programs in several colleges both on and off campus. These programs are open to both undergraduate and graduate students with varying levels of support and focus. The following colleges have research opportunities specifically devoted to sustainability programs:
• College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: http://www.research.cals.vt.edu/
• College of Architecture & Urban Studies:
http://www.caus.vt.edu/current-students/research/research-centers.html
• College of Engineering: http://www.eng.vt.edu/research
• College of Natural Resources & Environment (CNRE): http://cnre.vt.edu/
• College of Science: http://www.science.vt.edu/research/index.html

Notable among these programs are:

The Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability: (http://cligs.vt.edu) This center offers graduate education, professional development and research opportunities. Students have an array of opportunities and can receive graduate assistantships. This program also creates further incentives by eliminating the out of state fees to capture a more diverse and international student body.

The Catawba Sustainability Center: (http://www.cpe.vt.edu/sustainable/) This center serves as living laboratory for the research and demonstration of sustainable practices in land management, agriculture, energy production, and economics. This demonstration site enables graduate and undergraduate students space to conduct research in sustainable practices and a local to engage the local community in sustainable practices.

Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS) Doctoral Scholars Program: (http://www.ictas.vt.edu/education/docScholars.php) This program was established to attract and honor exceptional Ph.D. applicants with a Graduate Research Assistantship through the Ph.D. qualifying period. This program is a cooperative effort supported and coordinated primarily by ICTAS, with significant contributions from participating departments, colleges, and the graduate school. Students chosen to participate in this program are considered to be of the highest caliber and are expected to devote their efforts to pursuing research that aligns with the ICTAS pursuit for transformative, interdisciplinary research that supports a sustainable future. ICTAS Doctoral Scholars benefits include full graduate tuition funding, a graduate student stipend award, and associated benefits for the entire period of Ph.D. pursuit to a maximum of 4 years, partial travel support for professional development and external presentations, experience in interdisciplinary research, opportunity for cross pollination, and prestigious designation. This award is an investment in the university intellectual talent, creativity, and productivity, and complements the mission and strategic plan of the university. A number of scholars have worked on sustainability issues in the last three years.

The Clean Energy Challenge provides a cash prize for innovation in clean energy: (https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2015/04/040315-pamplin-unionchallenge.html)
Executive Master of Natural Resources. Virginia Tech’s Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) program in Leadership for Sustainability, part of the College of Natural Resources and Environment, incentivizes graduate students to engage in interdisciplinary research on complex and emergent sustainability challenges facing local communities and global society by providing faculty mentors, financial support, access to clients in the public and private, and other forms of assistance such as preliminary peer review and editorial services. For more information regarding the XMNR program and student capstone projects on sustainability, please see: www.cnre.vt.edu/xmnr.

Sustainable Policy Making and Planning in Europe:(https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2017/09/---virginia-tech-and-university-of-virginia-students-team-up-for.html) provides opportunities for students to learn about sustainable practices in energy, transportation, and water quality.

Sustainable bio-materials degree (https://sbio.vt.edu/students/degrees/sbio-degree/index.html) is one of the most unique programs in the United States that focuses on creating better performing materials with less environmental impact. Graduate students receive funding support through research programs.

The Academy of Food, Health, and Sustainability (https://www.cals.vt.edu/academic-programs/afhs.html) was created within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Virginia Tech to serve as an interdisciplinary hub for scientific education, discovery, and outreach efforts across three of CALS Strategic Plan Priority Areas: Food, Nutrition, and Health; Agricultural Profitability and Environmental Sustainability; and Community Viability.

Joseph L Ware Jr. Advanced Engineering Lab:
The College of Engineering Joseph L Ware Jr. Advanced Engineering Lab is especially noteworthy for it has given the college, the university, and our students’ tremendous opportunities to learn and showcase their technical knowledge in real world engineering applications.

Additionally, many specialized research programs and projects are available. The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation oversees many graduate and undergraduates research initiatives.


Does the institution have a program to encourage faculty from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability topics?:
Yes

A brief description of the faculty research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Four of our institutes, the Biocomplexity Institute (BI), the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS), the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment (ISCE), and the Fralin Life Sciences Institute, incentivize research through investment in faculty projects in sustainability areas. ICTAS in particular is focused on sustainability. Please see the links provided below for additional information about sustainability research at our investment institutes.
• VBI: http://www.bi.vt.edu/
• ICTAS: http://www.ictas.vt.edu/research/index.html
• ISCE: http://www.isce.vt.edu/
• Fralin: http://www.fralin.vt.edu/content/research

In 2016, the university launched a major new initiative to promote inter-disciplinary research through a series of Destination Areas. (http://provost.vt.edu/destination-areas.html).
In 2017, the Global Systems Sciences destination area received support from the university to initiate 4 new inter-disciplinary research programs managed by staff from the Fralin Life Sciences Institute.
(https://fralin.vt.edu/index/Announcements/040417-fralin-rfc.html).
These programs are the cornerstone of Virginia Tech’s efforts to interdisciplinary research focused on world problems.

Virginia Tech’s Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) program in Leadership for Sustainability, part of the College of Natural Resources and Environment, incentivizes faculty to engage in interdisciplinary research on complex and emergent sustainability challenges facing local communities and global society by providing financial support for graduate students, faculty development funds, access to clients in the public and private sectors, and other forms of assistance such as preliminary peer review and editorial services. For more information regarding the XMNR program and student capstone projects on sustainability, please see: www.cnre.vt.edu/xmnr. The Global Sustainability Initiative, see http://gsi.cnre.vt.edu/ is a closely related initiative that encourages students to participate in international sustainability research and service learning projects.


Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:
Yes

A brief description of the institution’s support for interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

The Virginia Tech Guidelines for Promotion and Tenure 2017-18 (and prior years) includes a section addressing interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary research: “For faculty who present significant interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary and collaborative teaching, research, outreach, or extension as part of the record, the dossier should include one evaluation letter form the director, coordinator, or leader of the interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary program. (page 5, paragraph F).

The annual promotion and tenure memorandum from Thanassis Rikakis, Executive Vice President and Provost, dated May 31, 2017, includes instructions about inter/transdisciplinary work: “Our growing focus on collaborative research and cluster hiring requires instruction to the external reviewers about the expectations of faculty members who are engaged in these efforts. Identifying a faculty member as a member of a cluster hire sends the message that successful accomplishments will undoubtedly include scholarly work that is published with a number of co-authors and in journals that cross disciplinary boundaries. Such inter/transdisciplinary journals may be newer and have less overall impact than more established disciplinary journals; however, these interdisciplinary journals may be the highest profile outlets for this kind of work. Colleges and departments should work with destination area stakeholder committees (or interdisciplinary program committees) to establish nationally benchmarked lists of appropriate transdisciplinary scholarship outlets for faculty involved in the destination area clusters or other Virginia Tech interdisciplinary clusters. The department head and department committee should address in their letters the appropriateness of the outlets in which the candidate has published or presented work. Overall, the department letter to external reviewers for collaborative appointments should highlight for reviewers the nature of these collaborative inter/transdisciplinary appointments and the expectations associated with these positions. Virginia Tech values interdisciplinary and has policies and practices to encourage and value this work in the promotion and tenure process.”

For additional information and promotion guidelines from the Office of the Provost regarding Promotion and Tenure, please see: https://provost.vt.edu/faculty_affairs/promotion_tenure.html

Virginia Tech has launched a new initiative, Destination Areas, associated with its Beyond Boundaries strategic plan which is designed to enhance our transdisciplinary research and education. Additional information can be found at: http://provost.vt.edu/destination-areas.html

We will focus on six areas: Adaptive Brain and Behavior, Creativity and Innovation, Data and Decisions, Global Systems Science, Intelligent Infrastructure for Human Center Communities, and Integrated Security. Faculty from across all eight colleges have been involved in setting the transdisciplinary research and education priorities for Destination Areas. Cluster hiring will be implemented during 2017-18 to build stronger faculty collaborative teams. Thus, the university has strong initiatives promoting transdisciplinary research.

Jack W. Finney, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, finney@vt.edu, (540) 231-6122


Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:
Yes

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

University Libraries offer guides on research methods and sustainability topics, including:

Research Methods
http://guides.lib.vt.edu/researchmethods

Sustainable biomaterials (wood science)
http://guides.lib.vt.edu/subject-guides/wood/wood

Sustainable biomaterials (forest products)
http://guides.lib.vt.edu/subject-guides/wood/forest

A search for “sustainability” in University Libraries LibGuides platform retrieves 66 course guides and subject guides that reference sustainability topics in areas such as Horticulture, Landscape Architecture, Biological Systems Engineering, and Environmental Sciences. http://guides.lib.vt.edu/srch.php?q=sustainability

Instructors can seamlessly embed LibGuides in courses managed in the University’s Canvas Learning Management System (LMS).

Several librarians also support the research, collection development, and instructional needs for sustainability programs across the University:
Kyrille Goldbeck DeBose, Head of Veterinary Medicine Library,
Inga Haugen, College Librarian for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Interim College Librarian for the College of Natural Resources and Environment
Virginia (Ginny) Pannabecker, Associate Director for Research Collaboration and Engagement.
Patrick Tomlin, Director for Learning Environments.
Larry Thompson, College Librarian for the College of Engineering.

In Fall 2017, University Libraries launched an open access Learning Object Repository, Odyssey https://odyssey.lib.vt.edu, which can serve as a platform for publishing and preserving sustainability elearning objects.

Virginia Tech's governance system includes the Energy and Sustainability Committee which is currently charged with providing advice to the University Administration on broad policy issues relating to the university's pursuit of environmental quality through action, education, and engagement to address current needs without compromising the capacity and needs of future generations. The Energy and Sustainability Committee has 19 members. Edward Lener, Associate Director, Collection Management, Library Services, is one of our faculty members. The Energy and Sustainability Committee reports to the Commission on University Support which further reports to the University Council.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Student Sustainability Research Incentives: Martin Daniel, Associate Vice President for Research Operations, Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, danielmp@vt.edu, (540) 231-6077

Faculty Sustainability Research Incentives: Martin Daniel, Associate Vice President for Research Operations, Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, danielmp@vt.edu, (540) 231-6077

Recognition of Inter-, Trans-, Multi-Disciplinary Research: Jack Finney, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, finney@vt.edu, (540) 231-6122

Library Support: Julie Griffin, Associate Dean for Research and Informatics, University Libraries, julieg@vt.edu, (540) 231-7193

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.