In his role as Associate Vice President for Research from 2013-2019, Jones played the role of “voice of the active researcher” on the team of the Executive Vice President for Research (Steve Cross, 2013-2018; Chaouki Abdallah 2018-2019). As part of this role, he has led a number of strategic and tactical projects pertaining to interdisciplinary research Institute-wide. A summary of key activities and accomplishments is given below.
- Jones restructured the GT approach to advertising, vetting, and selecting nominees for “Limited Submissions” opportunities, in conjunction with Susan Roche. The goals were to (i) increase the lead time and more effectively communicate limited submissions opportunities to faculty across the Institute, thereby improving the quality of GT submissions to external opportunities and increasing our success rate, and (ii) increase the transparency of the decision-making process leading to selection of specific proposals or nominees for such opportunities.
- The Georgia Tech Research Advisory Committee (GTRAC), a committee of faculty acting as resources and referees in the limited submissions review process, was assembled and launched. Comprised of tenure-track and research faculty based on nominations from Chairs and Associate Deans, these faculty ensure and effective and fair peer review process. Representation on GTRAC is based on faculty count, including representatives from all schools within CoE, CoS, CoC, and with members representing CoA and IAC as well.
- Teamed with Susan Roche and Gail Spatt in the EVPR Office in implementing a new webpage along with a commercial software package to advertise, again far in advance of deadlines, and manage Limited Submissions competitions. This approach, coupled with an opt-in biweekly emailing list, provides researchers with up to date information on both internal and external research opportunities.
- Iteratively evolved the Packard Foundation Fellowship selection process to improve success rate. GT’s last win in the Packard Foundation Fellowship was in 2009, whereas peer schools have winners more often. Implementing the standard limited submissions GTRAC process from 2014-2015, GT again did not have any faculty selected as fellows. Consulting with former winners and researchers across campus, for the 2016 process the process was changed. GT subsequently nominated back-to-back winners, in William Ratcliff and Annabelle Singer (2017).
- Working with faculty, staff and administrators, Jones helped define how Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IRIs) would shape and define the GT research ecosystem. Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IRIs) were launched by EVPR Steve Cross starting in 2010, with a goal of providing Institute-wide management of critical interdisciplinary research topics. As a new organization construct on campus, the goals and objectives of these organizations, from an EVPR perspective, had to be defined and communicated across the Institute.
- Jones launched and co-chaired the IRI Working Group with Steve DeWeerth (ADR CoE) and Lora Weiss (Chief Scientist, GTRI) from 2014-2016. The IRI Working Group defined the scope of activities and expectations for contributions to Institute research activity (see below *). Specifically, the group (i) defined the roles of IRIs, (ii) defined the expected contributions of IRIs to leadership and management of campus research, and explicitly defined the differences between IRIs and Centers. The Working Group also defined initial framework for a new interdisciplinary research organization, the Interdisciplinary Research Center (IRC). In 2017, Jones worked with the IRI Directors to refine and tighten the definition of and expectations of IRIs, commonly referred to as IRI 2.0.*An Interdisciplinary Research Institute (IRI) is a horizontal reporting unit to the EVPR that serves as Georgia Tech’s steward for one or more bold visions for proactive leadership addressing societal grand challenges. It champions these visions to potential sponsors and key external stakeholders. It is not a branded, or even permanent unit per se, but complements and grows the external resources available to the vertical reporting unit schools/units by serving as a horizontal systems integrator for the IRI focus area, facilitating interdisciplinary research and transition to use by academic, research, and extension. Generally, it represents a specific strategic technology thematic area of interest to multiple colleges, GTRI, and EI2. IRIs often support multiple faculty-led centers, labs, and groups and may provide shared support related to research space, equipment, and administrative services. The leadership style of an IRI director is one that requires balancing between that of an Enabler (working in the background, supporting faculty groups to achieve IRI strategic goals) and Vision Definer and Owner (serving as external face for GT in strategic area). Other leadership attributes of IRI directors include Integrator (making sum bigger than individual parts), Faculty Champion/Servant (promoting faculty and growing the resources and thought leadership platforms available to them), and Process Leadership (developing processes/shared support models to benefit constituent group).
- Jones created and launched a formal IRI Review process, whereby each IRI is comprehensively reviewed by representatives of the faculty they were chartered to serve. Occurring once every 5 years, the two day review process allows each IRI to present their strategic directions, activities and accomplishments to a panel of faculty and outside experts in the topical domain area. The IRIs are assessed against 10 key IRI objectives through interactive presentation and discussion. In parallel, campus leadership and the faculty served by the IRI that are not on the review panel assess the effectiveness of the organization via an online review process. We seek to review two IRIs each year: 2015 GTMI, IPaT; 2016 IBB; 2017 IEN, IMat; 2018 SEI;
- New IRCs funded for three year terms to seed new collaborative research activities, building teams poised to compete for future externally funded research centers. Five proposals were selected for funding:
(i) Science & Technology of Advanced Materials & Interfaces (STAMI)
(ii) Center for Machine Learning (ML)
(iii) Center for Research into Novel Computing Hierarchies (CRNCH)
(iv) The Heat Lab
(v) Integrative Cancer Research Center (ICRC)
- Designed and implemented a multi-year, multi-stage team development process targeting NSF STC and ERC Center competitions. Process was implemented with the NSF RFP: 15-589.
- Team-building proposal preparation workshops held in 2014 and 2015
- Internal red team reviews of pre-proposals conducted
- GT submitted 15 ERC pre-proposals to NSF in Fall 2015. NSF received ~120 pre-proposals
- NSF invited two GT-led teams and two teams in which GT was a junior partner to submit full proposals, in spring 2016.
- Two GT-led teams and one team with secondary GT role selected among final 7 teams. GT plays a major role in 3/7 finalists.
- Identified and contracted with an external consultant to provide coaching to two GT-led teams for full proposal, site visit and reverse site visit stages.
- GT-led team, CMAT, selected as a new 2017 ERC.
- This is the first GT-led ERC since 1997.