In January 2017, Vice Provost for Research Simin Meydani launched an inclusive, university-wide strategic planning effort that has resulted in important new insights for research and scholarship (R&S) at Tufts. Beginning this summer, there will be exciting opportunities for our research community to get involved.
Vice Provost for Research Meydani began her work by assembling a 24-member steering committee comprised of faculty, staff, and students. Their goal was to identify R&S priorities that build on Tufts’ core strengths and seek opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration in order to create innovative solutions to pressing societal and global challenges. They also aimed to identify and address structural impediments to success in all areas of research at Tufts.
The first phase of planning included extensive input from both internal and external stakeholders, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, research collaborators, funders, thought leaders, and other sources. Through one-on-one interviews, focus groups, surveys, online feedback, and other research methods, the steering committee gathered valuable feedback on research priorities as well as on areas that enable successful research and scholarship, including resources, policies, services and the ability to collaborate across disciplines.
Four cross-cutting working groups were formed with members of the Tufts community to develop proposals for improving these areas: 1) core facilities; 2) global engagement and impact; 3) commercialization and industry; and 4) resources, barriers, and facilitators to research and scholarship.
In addition, by combining the results of the initial research with an externally validated set of “grand challenges” as a guide, the steering committee identified five thematic priority research areas that Tufts is uniquely qualified to address over the next five to ten years. These areas include: Climate, Food, Water & Energy; Comparative Global Humanities; Equitable Society; Living Technology; and One Health.
These are all areas that align with and complement Tufts’ 10-year strategic plan (T10) and those of the schools, build on Tufts’ existing strengths, have the potential for leading-edge innovation, provide avenues for cross-disciplinary collaboration within and outside Tufts, and most important, have the potential to make a profound and positive difference to large numbers of people and societies.
Over the past several months, working groups for each of the five thematic priority areas were formed and twelve research proposals were developed. Eight of the most actionable proposals were approved to receive funding per annual review for up to three years. The first four, or Phase I, proposals to receive funding will be: Center for Integrated Management of Antimicrobial Resistance (CIMAR); Culture, History, and Translation; Healthy Aging; and Laboratory for Living Devices (LLD). The Phase II proposals will be: Climate and Energy; Equity in Health, Wealth, and Politics; Food and Water Nexus; and Global Obesity Collaborative.
In the coming weeks, the members of the RSSP Implementation Support Team in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research will be meeting with the thematic working groups and other members of the research community to develop a project plan with a preliminary budget and milestones. In the fall, they will be hosting and facilitating stakeholder retreats to mobilize participation from the broader Tufts research community.
To learn more about the R&S strategic planning process and implementation phase, visit the Research and Scholarship Strategic Plan website. To find out how you can get involved, email Augusta Rohrbach, director of strategic initiatives in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.
We look forward to working with the broader Tufts research and scholarship community on these exciting opportunities as they develop.
Anthony P. Monaco
Deborah T. Kochevar
Senior Vice President and Provost, ad interim