From Dr. Grace Baranek, Associate Chair for Research

This letter is especially difficult for me to write, knowing it is my last in the role of Associate Chair for Research in our department. I look back with awe and admiration for what we’ve accomplished as a team in building the DAHS Office of Research (DAHS-OOR).

At a departmental retreat a few years ago, we set out a strategic plan with four research initiatives, and it’s time to see how we’ve measured up. First and foremost, we invested in our greatest resource, our faculty, to support their programs of research and bolster successes in grant funding through increased infrastructure, more efficient administrative systems, and a grant reinvestment fund for successful teams. Secondly, we established our four interdisciplinary foci including:

(a) children, families and development,

(b) aging, rehabilitation and participation,

(c) community health, education, and wellness, and

(d) tools, technology & methodology.

I hope that the “centerfold model” in this newsletter caught your eye – this research model depicts these interdisciplinary strengths as a department, and is the culmination of two years of thought and hard work by the Research Advisory Committee. It features the translational processes through which AHS researchers generate knowledge, prepare scientists, and build evidence-based interventions that impact health, well-being and social-participation for our clients and communities. (FYI, it’s newly launched on the DAHS research webpage tagging all active research projects in order to showcase our strengths and broad reach.) Third, we have fostered a culture of interdisciplinarity as reflected in the dynamic discussions among faculty and students during our monthly research forum series. The innovative research methods modular courses are in their second year and are taught by interdisciplinary faculty across three PhD programs. These courses have had vast successes with interdisciplinary grants and scholarly projects locally, nationally, and globally.

Finally, we have been working to build capacity for research, training the highest caliber of students and post-docs to be the next generation of career scientists and leaders in AHS research, and supporting junior and mid-career faculty through mentoring committees and the establishment of three new awards to recognize faculty achievements and innovations. Before this semester ends, we will also have launched a new student research travel fund, and we are generating ideas for ways to support faculty leaves to pursue creative works or embark on new areas of scholarship.

I am eternally grateful to the founding and current members of the Research Advisory Committee, aka “Grace’s Aces,” who have dedicated their precious time and expertise in support of our common vision. They have been steadfast and loyal, despite numerous shortcomings in resources and my leadership style. I extend my sincere thanks to our stellar staff, particularly Patricia Kinneer, Jennifer Daniel, and John Bulluck, who have shouldered so much “behind the scenes” on a day-to-day basis. I am also grateful to my colleagues and students, without whom this job would be meaningless. Last, but not least, I want to acknowledge Dr. Stephen Hooper, current Associate Dean/Chair, and his predecessor Dr. Lee McLean, for affording me the incredible opportunity to serve as your Associate Chair for Research for the past seven years, and for dedicating the resources and mentoring to make it work. I look forward to opportunities for ongoing collaborations coast-to-coast, and wish all of you the very best in the years ahead. 

-Dr. Grace Baranek

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