Strategic Plan

The current Strategic Plan of the Center of Membrane Sciences is described below:

A. Environmental Factors
1. External Environment
a. Factors Facilitating the Work of the Center
(1) Growing attention being given to science and technology. It is clear that funding agencies, such as NSF, DoD, NIH, etc., are becoming more involved in these areas, which are emphases of the Center.
(2) Increased emphasis on multidisciplinary approaches to science and technology. Intersecting problems in science and engineering are extremely complex; the cooperative interaction among scientists and engineers, a distinction of the Center, positions us well to take advantage of this emerging and on-going trend.
(3) Improving industrial environment around Lexington. With Toyota has come ancillary industries, some of which use membrane technology. It is hoped that greater involvement of these firms in the Center will occur. Several companies have visited the Center.
b. Factors Distracting or Hindering the Work of the Center
(1) Although the Center was ranked as tier 1 in the materials area by the Reedy Committee, because no degree programs are located in the Center, resources were not available through the Research Challenge Trust Fund (RCTF).
(2) Retention of active Center Faculty Associates in the University is a major concern for the near term.
(3) Federal budget demands. This means there is increased competition for research funds among other national needs.
2. Internal Environment
a. Strengths
(1) Diversity of Units. The greatest strength of the Center of Membrane Sciences is the strong interaction between experts in biological membranes with those in synthetic membranes. This has been recognized by federal granting agencies and by the North American Membrane Society, as evidenced by grants obtained and being selected to host their 1992 and 2001 National meetings of NAMS. Having faculty of diverse expertise at the University aids in the work of the Center. Presently, there are 23 UK faculty from 11 departments representing 6 colleges who are Faculty Associates of the Center.
(2) Identification of Membrane Sciences as an area for institutional investment. Support by Research for the operation of the Center has been essential and greatly appreciated, although the Center could achieve even more with additional resources.
b. Weaknesses
(1) Confusions about the cumbersomeness of institutional organization.
The present University Sector organization provides yet another potential roadblock to collaborative interactions among faculty of different Sectors. Such collaboration does take place but sometimes with difficulty. In addition, the Sector organization can lead to questions of “turf” that can hinder research interactions.
(2) Lack of common and central space for research by all members of the Center. The NSF reviewers of the original NSF/EPSCoR grant noted this as a weakness. In addition, individual research space is a problem for some Faculty Associates of the Center.
B. Goals and Objectives of the Center of Membrane Sciences
1. The two major goals of the Center are:
a. To increase national/international recognition for membrane research at the University of Kentucky.
b. To produce well-educated and highly-trained Ph.D. students who appreciate the totality of membranes, who can interact well with scientists, engineers, and clinicians in academia, industry, and government, and who project a positive image as a result of their association with the Center.
An additional goal of the Center is, to the extent possible and where appropriate to the nature of the Center, to help the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies Sector and the University to achieve their goals.
2. The objectives to be met in achievement of these goals are:
a. Concerning Increased National/International Recognition of Membrane Research at UK:
(1) To ensure that innovative membrane research continues to be produced in the Center.
b. Concerning the Production of Highly-Trained Ph.D. Students:
(1) To ensure graduate student mastery of the type of membrane system in which he/she is pursuing research (e.g., biological or synthetic), and to ensure significant familiarity with the other type of membrane system and its interface with his/her own membrane system.
C. Enabling Strategies/Intended or Anticipated Outcomes/Results
1. Concerning Increased National/International Recognition of Membrane Research at UK.
a. The Center will increase the number of Faculty Associates of the Center to 20 by 1999. Results: Now numbering 23, this goal has been exceeded.
b. The Faculty Associates of the Center will increase the number of proposals submitted to extramural funding agencies over the next five years. Each Faculty associate will apply for at least one federal grant in this period. Results: In the 8-year period 1992-1999, Faculty Associates of the Center secured grant funding totaling over $36M, indicating success in this area.
c. The Faculty Associates of the Center will increase the number of refereed publications in prestigious journals. Results: Based on our track record for the period of this review [1992-1999], where Center Faculty Associates published 924 papers, the outcome seems obvious.
d. The Faculty Associates of the Center will increase the number of presentations at national/international scientific conferences over the next five years. Results: Similarly, based on our track record for 1992-99, during which approximately 1014presentations were made, we also reached this goal.
e. The Center will remain committed to technology transfer. Results: In addition to the many technology transfer via the scientific publications by Faculty Associates, the Center in 1995 organized and hosted the International Conferences on Biofunctional Membranes. Increased national/international visibility of the Center was provided, building on that earned by the considerable research progress of the Faculty Associates and augmented when the Center organized and hosted the Fifth North American Membrane Society National Meeting in 1992. During the review period a book, Biofunctional Membranes, edited by the director of the UK Center of Membrane Sciences was published by Plenum. The Center will continue this effort in the future: the Center will organize and host the 2001 meeting of the North American Membrane Society. Being selected to do so is recognition of the status in which the Center of Membrane Sciences is held. Further, this meeting continues the Center’s commitment to technology transfer.
f. Assuming sufficient new funding the Center will:
(1) Help identify Departments to hire and jointly fund two faculty positions with joint appointment in the Center. These persons, one for the Lexington Campus and one for the Medical Center Campus, would have research interests in the interface of biological and synthetic membranes. Results: Although requested through appropriate University channels, this has not been realized.
(2) Be in the top 20 of public Universities. Results: The Center of Membrane Sciences actually is already in the top 20. Further, the Center enjoys a national and international reputation for biological and synthetic membrane research, especially for research at the interface of these two types of membranes. For example, numerous Faculty Associates have given invited presentations at national and international conferences.
(3) Enhance international cooperation and technology transfer by organizing and hosting the North American Membrane Society National Meeting in 2001. Results: As noted above, the Center has been selected to organize and host this meeting.
(4) Contribute to technology transfer by producing a book on membranes by 2002. Results: Plans to accomplish this are being developed.
(5) With the assistance of the VP of Research develop an External Advisory Committee. The Committee composed of outstanding academic, government, and industrial membrane scientists will critique the progress of the Center and advise on new trends in membrane research. Results: Progress has been slow here due to a lack of resources.
(6) Distribute to UK, other academic institutions, and industrial contacts a new one-page flyer describing the research and programmatic capabilities and programs of the Center. Results: This has been accomplished, and a new flyer is under development.
(7) The Center will produce a newsletter to be sent to academic and industrial membrane scientists and engineers and to federal funding agencies. The newsletter will highlight research and educational programmatic accomplishments of the Center. Results: We provided one newsletter in 1996 and the most recent newsletter was produced in the fall of 1999.
2. Concerning the production of Highly-Trained Ph.D. Students:
a. With sufficient new funding for the Center, the Faculty Associates of the Center will team-teach multidisciplinary courses in Membrane Sciences that give graduate students an in-depth overview of the structure, function, fabrication, and application of biological and synthetic membranes and their hybrids. Approval for these courses will be sought over a five-year period. When all such courses are in place, a certificate indicating that the student had successfully completed these courses will be awarded by the Center. Results: This has not been accomplished due to a lack of resources to provide release time for faculty teaching.
b. The number of Ph.D. and M.S. degrees awarded to students working under the aegis of Faculty Associates of the Center will increase by one-third over the next five years. Results: Based on our performance during the current review period (1992-99), in which 182 Ph.D. and M.S. degrees were conferred based on research supervision by Center Faculty Associates, we more than reached this goal. Although the Center has been highly successful in this area, one way to increase this number is by submission of training grants to federal agencies. This has been an unmet goal that will be rectified early in the new millennium. During this review period, the director was honored to be a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. The $10,000 grant associated with this award, together with the help of the directors’ past graduate students, the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, and the RCTF match program, has enabled a permanent endowment totaling $50K to be established to assist graduate student investment in Membrane Sciences.
c. With new resources, the Center will implement a RA program in Membrane Sciences. Such a program, competitively based on the progress of Faculty Associates, would provide two RAs to Departments, one RA for the Medical Center Campus and one RA for the Lexington Campus. Results: No university or federal resources were secured to achieve this objective, although attempts at MRSEC and STC proposals to NSF were made.
D. Relation of the Center’s Goals and Objectives to Those of the VP of Research's Area and those of Institution:
1. Linkage to University Strategic Plan
To a great extent the proposed program for faculty hiring and new RAs seed grants form a linkage with each of the following goals of the University Strategic Plan.
a. The University will strengthen its commitment to scholarship and academic excellence.
b. The University will strengthen the development of human resources.
2. Linkage to VP of Research's Strategic Plan
The proposed programs are highly consistent with several goals, objectives, and enabling strategies in the VP of Research's Strategic Plan. The proposed programs will lead to increased scholarship, teaching, and technological advancement. With the addition of RAs, human resources will be developed further. And by strengthening ties between the Center and various Departments, by allocating resources over both the Lexington Campus and Medical Center Sectors and by aggressively seeking highly qualified individuals from traditionally under-represented groups, the proposed programs will help UK become “one community”. Specific linkages to the VP of Research's Strategic Plan include:
a. Contribute resources from the VP of Research to unit, college, sector, and University efforts to recruit and retain nationally competitive research faculty and staff.
b. Enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain the highest caliber of graduate students.
c. Provide excellent multidisciplinary academic and research programs.
d. Emphasize a sense of University community, which entails integrity, openness, and trust.
E. Assessment Process
The assessment of the effectiveness of the Center of Membrane Sciences currently is conducted in a two-fold manner: (A) annual compilation of faculty achievements; (B) follow-up survey of graduates associated with the Center. Each type of assessment will provide information that will be shared with the Faculty Associates of the Center, and where appropriate, modifications of the Center’s plans and programs will be formulated.
1. The annual compilation and review of faculty achievement will be based on the CV’s. Data will be measured against expected outcomes.
2. The graduate students who were granted departmentally-based degrees through the units of the Faculty Associates will be surveyed post graduation to learn their views of the education/research/training they received through activities of the Center. The survey instrument is like that below. The Faculty Associates will address difficulties/barriers in the Center that are apparent from the surveys and, if found to be appropriate, corrected.
3. With institutional resources, an External Advisory committee will be appointed to provide advice on the progress and plans of the research and programmatic functions of the Center. The membership will consist, nominally, of one academic member with expertise in membranes, and one member from the membrane-using industry. On a regular basis, probably every two years, the Committee would perform site visits to the Center, which, in conjunction with written assessments provided by the Center, will form the basis of their periodic review. Critiques provided by the committee will be used to improve the research and programmatic functions of the Center.