First faculty research awards to be announced next week

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Vice President for Research Leo Chalupa will recognize young and distinguished faculty at the first-ever faculty research awards this week.

GW’s research office is giving out faculty research awards for the first time next week.

Vice President for Research Leo Chalupa said in an email that the first faculty research awards will recognize distinguished and younger faculty for their research contributions or for those who show potential. The awards are just the latest example of how officials have prioritized research at GW over the last several years.

Researchers will receive their awards during the annual faculty honors ceremony on April 20. Officials have not announced the winners yet.

Chalupa said he will present a distinguished researcher award, a distinguished scholar award, two early career researcher awards and an early career scholar award.

The distinguished research award will be presented to researchers in the fields of engineering and science, and the distinguished scholar award is given to those in fields that produce creative work in the arts and humanities. Each winner will receive $5,000.

“With the expansion of the University’s research mission, it seemed appropriate to recognize the breadth of research accomplishments among GW’s faculty,” Chalupa said.

The GW community nominated researchers for the awards, and the nominees were reviewed and ranked by the Research Leadership Council, a committee of research deans, Chalupa added.

GW has prioritized research in recent years. In an effort to incentivize research last year, the University decided to give schools back 27 percent of the money the federal government awards as bonus funding for research.

Twelve of GW’s 14 peer schools offer institutional faculty research awards.

Michele Schwietz, the associate dean for research at George Mason University, said their university funds faculty research and development awards, which are designed to help faculty initiate new programs of research and enhance existing ones.

“Recognizing faculty with a grant such as this one provides critical resources so they can advance their scholarship and teaching, and it also may lead to other opportunities,” Schweitz said.

She said awarding researchers demonstrates that officials value their work.

“This type of award program sends a very important message that research, scholarship and creative works are valued and supported by the university,” Schweitz said. “I’m sure that the benefits both immediate and long-term to faculty and to students at GWU will be many.”

Valerie Hu, a professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine and an autism researcher, said awarding researchers can boost the school’s research profile.

“If faculty are doing great work, it helps the university in terms of getting recognition that such high quality research is being done,” Hu said. “It is a natural thing that many schools will consider because it does help with their reputation.”

She said the recognition is also a good way to learn about other researchers’ projects.

“Too often, research is done almost in a vacuum,” Hu said. “Your close colleagues will know what you are doing, but no one else in the university community knows what is going on.”

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