Associate Provost plans awareness of research

Callie Miller

The newly appointed Associate Provost for Research and Creative Activity has plans to increase the department’s social media presence and campus outreach.

Cheryl Davis, biology professor and the new associate provost, said she wants to promote research and creative activities more on campus. Davis was the interim associate provost from Sept. 1 of last year to Nov. 1 this year when she was officially appointed after an internal search among existing faculty.

In an interview with the Herald during the search for the associate provost position, Provost David Lee explained why the right candidate would be important for the university’s continued success.

“The university has a very strong commitment to research and creative activity,” 

When conducting the search, Lee said he wanted someone who had a good record with research involving students and who works well with diverse constituencies, someone who can articulate an exciting vision for the future.

“We have a lot of internal talent,” Lee said.

Davis said she is focusing on outreach and wants to be more accessible while she is looking for more opportunities to encourage collaboration.

“We’ve been using social media more, and we’ve been doing more news articles and additional press releases,” she said. 

Departments and researchers will be publicizing their work more effectively, but Davis said communication will also be improved within the university as well.

“One thing that I’ve realized is that most faculty know very well what their colleagues in their department do and what kind of research they’re involved with, but they don’t necessarily know what people in other departments in their college are doing, and they certainly don’t know what people are doing in other colleges,” she said.

Davis hopes in doing this it will give the faculty the chance to work together on grants and proposals on things they have similar interests in, even those who don’t work in the same departments.

“I’m really interested in looking for those kinds of opportunities, that untapped potential,” she said. “They can come together and combine their expertise in a really powerful way.”

Her goal is to create awareness about what other professors and students are doing.

“Taking on this position has really opened my eyes to a lot of things I didn’t know were occurring at the university, and it’s been very exciting for that reason,” Davis said.

Her duties include managing the Office of Research and Creative Activity, which includes the Office of Sponsored Programs that oversees grant proposals and deals with contracts and service agreements. This is for faculty and staff who apply for outside funding for their research, public service activities, or educational outreach, Davis said.

ORCA is responsible for the FUSE program that supports students working with a faculty member to do research and scholarly endeavors and for “Posters of the Capital,” in which students make appointments with their state legislators to look at posters they’ve made to give the legislators a chance to support their activities.

ORCA also works in partnership with the Student Research Council to organize a conference each spring that reaches activities across campus.

The Office of Research Integrity is also under ORCA, which is responsible for research that involves human or animal subjects or studies anything that is considered a biohazard, such as microorganisms or dangerous substances.

Activities that relate to intellectual property, such as when students and faculty have an invention or want to get a patent or trademark on a product, fall under ORCA’s responsibilities as well.

With taking on her new position as associate provost, Davis’ own research on Chagas disease has had to be put on a back burner. She is doing mostly surveillance right now while she works to support other students’ and faculties’ research.

“I’ve been a faculty member for 25 years and so to have this opportunity to serve in this capacity, the broader WKU community, I think that’s really exciting,” she said. “Throughout my whole career I’ve been involved in research, research with undergraduates students, and master students. It’s been a big part of my career, so it’s something I care a whole lot about.”

Davis said she wants to “do what I can to help people get the funding that they need to do the work that they dream about doing.”

Reporter Callie Miller can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @callie_miller8.