Sponsored Research is Focus of New HMC Office

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In order to provide direct support to departments and faculty through corporate partnerships (Clinic) and government grants, Harvey Mudd College has created the Office of Sponsored Research and Projects. Colleen Coxe, former senior director of corporate relations, will lead the new office as assistant vice president for sponsored research and projects. She will work closely with Nicole Wallens, associate director and Kelly Barker, assistant director.

Creating an office that focuses on sponsored research within the Office of Academic Affairs will better serve the faculty as they seek funding for their research, says Lisa Sullivan, vice president and R. Michael Shanahan Dean of the Faculty. “The National Science Foundation is a major source of support, and the grants process for government agencies is quite different from private foundations.”

Sponsored research was previously overseen by the director of foundation relations (within advancement), who will now focus on supporting college-wide efforts to engage private funders (i.e., Gates, Ford, Lilly, Mellon) as well as supporting faculty whose work aligns with such funders. HMC faculty members were awarded $2,572,735 during academic year 2021–2022, mostly in multi-year grants. NSF continues to be a major source of funding for faculty research, and the hope is to diversify that funding.

The office centralizes support for faculty funding to encompass funding from corporate and government sources. When AVP Coxe began working at HMC in 2018, her focus was on developing corporate relationships to support the Clinic Program, a pioneering academic collaboration with industry to engage juniors and seniors in solving real-world, technical challenges. Previously, she served in employer and alumni relations at Bates College, as well as other positions in industry and higher education. In 2019, she received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to travel to Germany as part of the U.S.-Germany International Education Administrators Program.

Colleen CoxeThe sponsored research and projects office will continue the work of cultivating Clinic sponsors and supporting the Clinic Program. “We hope to increase opportunities to include Clinic in grant proposals,” says Coxe. “Clinic can be a great way for faculty to pursue a specific aspect of their research during the academic year, particularly when it is collaborative with industry or a national lab. We currently have one funded grant and one submitted proposal that include Clinic projects. Like all Clinic projects, these projects have external partners that provide a liaison for the student team to provide technical expertise.”

Nicole WallensAssociate Director Wallens, new to HMC this year, was previously executive director of a community-based nonprofit in Los Angeles, where she built a 501c3 organization from a grassroots volunteer program. She also created the organization’s communications and operations infrastructure. She holds a doctorate in Italian Renaissance art history from Rutgers University, where she served as a project management coach, supporting graduate students and professors to increase research and publication productivity.

Assistant Director Barker has worked at HMC for 14 years, including supporting the associate dean for research and experiential learning and the summer research program. She moved from advancement to academic affairs with corporate relations in 2011 and has helped build an infrastructure to support the Clinic Program’s rapid growth during the past decade.