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Cartwright takes part in AAU research panel

Alex Cartwright at AAU panel in DC

Alexander Cartwright took part in a panel discussion on the growing role of universities in driving regional economic development sponsored by the AAU in Washington, D.C. Photo: Courtesy of the AAU

By JOHN DELLACONTRADA

Published July 10, 2014

UB’s Alexander N. Cartwright and nine other senior research officers from major U.S. universities gathered in Washington, D.C., yesterday for a panel discussion on science, economic development and U.S. global competitiveness.

The two-hour discussion, hosted by the Association of American Universities (AAU) and The Science Coalition, focused on the growing role of universities in driving regional economic development and included pointed discussion of how cuts to federal research funding impact a research university’s ability to solve society’s big problems.

Science journalists from Nature, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Boston Globe, Science, Huffington Post and others participated in the discussion, titled “All Things Research.”

“Universities play a role in solving really hard, really big, long-term problems; we’re not bound by anything but funding,” said Harvard University’s Richard McCullough, vice provost for research.    

Several of the research officers pointed out that funding from industry and state government becomes more important in the face of cuts to federal research funding.

“At the University at Buffalo, we’re fortunate to have formed a partnership with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is investing in university research because he understands the powerful role universities play in innovation and economic development,” said Cartwright, vice president for research and economic development.

Industry funding is essential for support of applied research, the panelists said, but federal funding is needed to support basic research, which feeds the pipeline toward applied research, technology transfer and commercialization of research.

Panelists were from UB, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, University of California, San Diego, University of Rochester, Texas A&M University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Boston University, The Ohio State University and the University of Notre Dame.

The discussion began with each research officer giving a brief description of exciting research underway at their respective institutions. Cartwright spoke about the work of UB material scientists and the new genomic medicine initiative launched in the spring.

Other discussion topics included:

  • The need to invest in research infrastructure as part of a long-term strategy for research productivity.
  • The “innovation deficit” — difference between what the U.S. invests in research and what is needed to maintain U.S. leadership in science.
  • Competition with overseas universities for recruitment of the brightest faculty and students.
  • The potential effect of research funding cuts on the careers of junior faculty.
  • How research universities improve a region’s quality of life.