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Doing Research 2023

January 2023

Is your work export controlled?

The Office for Research provides expert resources and guidance for those navigating complex, but crucial, regulatory environments
The Office for Research dedicates resources to help the Northwestern community navigate export control regulations. Faculty, staff and students are responsible for complying with federal export control regulations. Violation consequences can be severe, including criminal and civil penalties. Red flags that your activity may be export controlled, include, but are not limited to:
  • Agreement or contracts with a publication or foreign person restrictions
  • Equipment has an end-user agreement restricting use, or  is labeled export-controlled or ITAR
  • Shipment is going outside the U.S., or you are hand-carrying an item abroad
  • Activities or work (even virtually) with individuals or entities in heavily sanctioned or embargoed countries

The Export Controls and International Compliance team can assist you. Please contact ECIC Sr. Director Amy Weber for guidance.

OR DEI Council and Advocate Award winners announced

Efforts continue office-wide focus on enhancing workplace for all

The Office for Research (OR) was pleased to introduce its DEI Council during a December Town Hall. The Council will help advance OR’s commitment and actions around diversity, equity and inclusion, with members strengthening workplace culture through dialogue and initiatives that foster an environment where all are encouraged to contribute their best. Members of the Council are: Dawn Bradley (VPR Office); Jim Bruning(Research Analytics); Jessica Catania (IACUC); Beth Irwin (IRB Office); Avril Xinyi Liu (Sponsored Research); Tera Moskal (Research IT); Amy Weber (Export Controls/Compliance; Katie Wright (IRB Office); and Lora A. Zygman (Sponsored Research). OR DEI Director Aisha Ghori Ozaki and VPR Milan Mrksichalso announced the inaugural winners of the office’s DEI Advocate Award, a distinction that, among other things, recognizes those who “demonstrate courage and bravery to advance DEI in OR.” Individual winners were Edeth Engel (IRB Office) and Jessica Catania (IACUC). Members of the IRB Fair Work Group also won the award for their collective efforts. Learn more.

CERES testing and learning opportunities

The next phase of the CERES Implementation, end-to-end testing, will take place mid-January through February. Our testers will play an important role in ensuring CERES is ready for the wider Northwestern community prior to the April go-live date.  Visit the Sponsored Research Administration Transformation Program  to find the latest CERES updates as well as access CERES FAQs, faculty resources, and overviews of the CERES components.

Entrepreneurial fellows program launched

The Querrey InQbation Lab is excited to announce the launch of the Entrepreneurial Fellows (EFs) Program, a new yearlong program aimed to educate and train the next generation of entrepreneurs. The EF Program offers recent PhD and MBA graduates the chance to partner with faculty and advance NU innovations towards commercial-ization. With mentorship and programming, the EFs will undertake development and commercialization plans aimed at launching an early-stage company.  The InQbation Lab will provide EFs with a salary, benefits and a stipend for supplies and travel. Faculty and students can learn more.   

New reporting aims for integration, excellence

Effective Dec. 1, 2022, Research Safety and the IBC now report to AVP Crista Brawley. The move is intended to support streamlined and optimized oversight of Northwestern’s research safety program as well as better align Northwestern’s research regulatory oversight committees. The University’s commitment to research excellence has long been paired with its sustained and robust dedication to keeping NU’s research community and facilities safe, and Brawley has brought exceptional insights, energy and nearly two decades of higher education leadership experience to her role since joining NU in Dec. 2021. She and colleagues in Research Safety, including Executive Director Michael Blayney, have been focused on recent projects such as the IBC’s new system roll-out (eIBC), alignment between the regulatory bodies (IACUC, IRB, and IBC), and partnering with the Lurie Cancer Center to offer joint support. Brawley is excited about continuing to promote excellence in research. 

Tips for timely IRB Office approvals

The IRB office shares three tips to help you gain IRB approval in a timely manner.  1. All projects must use the current IRB templates.  Download them from the Protocol Templates and Forms and Consent Templates webpages. 2. Know in advance what you are trying to submit – Human research determination, data/specimen analysis, or research activities involving human research. See the IRB Resources and Guidance Page. 3. Respond to all clarifications accurately and in full. Communicate with the PI or PI Proxy to help ensure they submit in eIRB+ promptly.   

Minogue named interim INVO director

Effective immediately, Andrea Minogue will serve as interim director of INVO during Northwestern’s search for the office’s new executive director. Minogue has been a member of the INVO senior leadership team since 2018, serving as senior director of finance and administration. In that role, she has been responsible for INVO’s financial management strategy as well as contributing to the development and implementation of the organization’s strategic goals throughout the university.  

New class of porous metal nanomolecules

Researchers from Northwestern's International Institute of Nanotechnology have made a significant advance in the way they produce exotic open-framework superlattices made of hollow metal nanoparticles. Using tiny hollow particles and modifying them with appropriate sequences of DNA, the team found it could synthesize open-channel superlattices with pores ranging from 10 to 1,000 nanometers — sizes that have been difficult to access until now.  The new class of materials will aid in catalysis, chemical sensing and more.

Chemistry of Life Processes/Feinberg workshop targets unmet clinical needs

Fostering team science among Northwestern’s basic scientists and clinicians to address unmet clinical needs was the impetus behind the inaugural Convergence Workshop hosted by Chemistry of Life Processes Institute and the Feinberg School of Medicine. Rex Chisholm, associate vice president for research, provided welcoming remarks.  Explore the story and video.

Advancing quantum science, workforce DEI

Northwestern’s Jens Koch (physics and astronomy) recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with some of the foremost scientists and engineers working in quantum information science and technology. He attended the White House National Quantum Initiative Centers Summit, representing the Superconducting Quantum Materials and Systems Center (SQMS), for which he is deputy director. The center, a collaboration with Fermilab, is one of many important efforts at the University that harness Northwestern’s cross-disciplinary strengths in quantum research. “We dedicated a lot of time to discussing the necessity of developing a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce, in addition to talking about science,” said Koch, an expert in quantum electronics and superconducting quantum circuits. Learn more.

CSB hosts Synthetic Biology Research Day 

The Center for Synthetic Biology (CSB) recently hosted its first Synthetic Biology Research Day at SQBRC on NU’s Chicago campus. Nearly 50 students, postdocs, staff and faculty attended the event, bringing together synthetic biologists from across the University. The day began with an interactive data visualization workshop, part of CSB’s Research Design and Communication workshop series, which familiarized attendees with the evolution of the scientific figure over the last 150 years, introduced a design-build-test-learn process to visualizing data and provided tips and tools to enhance figure-making skills. Following the workshop, research talks showcased exciting synthetic biology research underway at NU. Attendees learned about new methods to evaluate protein stability, innovative ways of barcoding cells to evaluate disease and using gut bacteria and biofilms to sense and respond to illnesses. Learn more about the Workshop Series or view photos from the event.