Monthly Update – June 2022

Covid-19 cases continue to be tracked and contact traced at USC. As a reminder, if any employee or student has been on campus in the 48 hours prior to symptoms, they should complete the tracing form in MySHR and inform their personal close contacts. Moving into the fall semester, the primary series vaccination plus booster is part of the immunization requirement for incoming students. While masks are not required on campus, they are highly recommended for indoor settings since Los Angeles is categorized by the CDC as medium level category for transmission. 

FACULTY ENGAGEMENT:  

Transformative Agreements signed by USC Libraries: The USC Libraries have signed transformative agreements with five academic publishers (American Chemical Society, Association of Computing Machinery, Cambridge University Press, Karger, and Wiley) that broaden access to USC scholarship. The publishers will make newly published articles by USC authors freely available (if the author chooses to publish as open access) to readers under an open access model. Academic publishers typically charge processing fees to publish open access articles in what are known as hybrid (a mix of paywalled and open access content) or gold (fully open access) journals. Under the agreements, those fees are waived, realizing significant cost savings for USC researchers. For more information, go to libguides.usc.edu/openaccess/transformative or contact Alyssa Resnick. Go to libguides.usc.edu/openaccess to learn more about open access. 

Lobbying – University Relations/Government Relations: [Sent at the request of the USC University Relations office] As professors/researchers, we want to remind you of our political compliance policies and guidelines.  Of particular importance, please note the difference between providing useful information on behalf of the university versus taking a position and asking an official to adopt your position on behalf of the university.  Although professors/researchers may provide information to a legislative body or government official (such as results of research or a model piece of legislation), please note it is considered LOBBYING when a professor takes a position and asks an official to adopt his/her position OR when materials are prepared or consulting/strategy services are provided in connection with legislation on behalf of the university. Thank you for taking the time to review recently updated Political Activity Policy and USC Political Site Visit Policy.  In addition, there are measures that event organizers should put in place to ensure compliance as indicated in our Political FAQs. Please communicate with University Relations/Government Relations if you are participating in potential lobbying activities.  You may direct questions to vpgr@usc.edu

National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity: NCFDD is a professional development resource for working more effectively to meet the multitude of responsibilities expected of a faculty member, while thriving and building professional success. This valued resource is available to ALL faculty, post-docs, graduate students, and staff administrators. You can register for your free Institutional Membership with your usc.edu email address and go to facultydiversity.org/join. If you have any questions, please contact Cheryl Brier

Save the date for Navigating Research & Scholarship at USC: Faculty, staff, postdocs, and PhD and graduate students from all areas are invited to attend on Friday, Aug 26, from 9:15am-3:30pm. Whether you’re new or need a refresher, this Zoom event is an opportunity to learn and ask questions about campus-wide resources available to support your research and scholarly work. Topics will include collaboration and mentorship; communications and promotion; diversity, equity and inclusion; networking, commercialization and copyright; internal and external funding; research integrity and compliance; proposal development and proposal writing; data management; grants management; and financial management. An invitation with the agenda and link to RSVP will be distributed shortly. We look forward to your participation! 

Mentoring and Training Workshops: Are you a faculty or staff who wants to help researchers learn skills that will help them improve their work? The Center for Excellence in Research is currently looking for volunteers to teach a one to two hour-long research workshop via Zoom this fall on topics such as research resources/methods, professional development, grant writing, etc. Any ideas you think would be useful are welcome! Apply here by Friday, July 8.  

Funding Opportunities & Research Support: Office of Research seed grant programs can be found here. For a current list of Limited Submission funding opportunities, click here. Core facilities and shared resources are listed here

We want to promote you! Please add/update the information for your events/talks, centers/institutes, shared resources, funding opportunities, diversity programs, student and postdoc programs, and COVID-19 funding, resources or research to help us make our website an asset for everyone. 

FEDERAL LANDSCAPE UPDATES: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies approved on June 21 by voice vote its fiscal year 2023 funding bill. In total, the bill includes $44.8 billion in regular appropriations, an increase of $6.8 billion – 18 percent – above the FY 2022 enacted level. 

OPRS/IRB: OPRS/IRB continues to maintain a 1-week wait time for assignment to an analyst for exempt and expedited applications. We just successfully completed an FDA audit last week and we expect to have a letter to that effect in about 5 months from now. We are also developing a Reliance Team that will handle ceded reviews and single IRB (sIRB) applications. We are piloting the sIRB application process right now and expect to launch it in earnest in July (next month). We will also be hiring another IRB analyst in the 2022-23 academic year, bringing us closer to the national average in terms of IRB staffing. We expect this new position will contribute to our ability to support ceded review and sIRB applications as we expect to see an increase in both in 2022-23 and beyond. 

STEVENS CENTER FOR INNOVATION:  

USC Stevens Center awards 2022 Technology Advancement Grants to 3 USC researchers 

For the sixth consecutive year, USC Stevens Center for Innovation has hosted and awarded Technology Advancement Grants (TAG) to researchers at the University of Southern California. This year’s TAG awards total $300,000 and will fund three projects in diverse fields of life sciences and physical sciences.  

Please join us in congratulating the following 2022 TAG award recipients:  

  • Travis Williams, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences 
  • Project Title: Commercializing Ethanol and Glycerol as Hydrogen Carriers 
  • Sook-Lei Liew, USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy  
  • Project Title: REINVENT: A low-cost, mixed reality neurofeedback system for stroke rehabilitation  
  • Eun Ji Chung, USC Viterbi School of Engineering  
  • Project Title: microRNA-145 Micelles for Mitigating Atherosclerosis 

USC Stevens launched the annual Technology Advancement Grants program in 2016. The TAG program supports early-stage technologies invented at USC through validation or proof-of-concept development. TAG grants help to add value to unlicensed USC-owned technology, thereby increasing the probability of licensing and supporting the commercialization of discoveries created at USC. The Request for Proposals for the next round of the TAG program will be announced in late 2022. 

CONTRACTS & GRANTS: The Department of Contracts and Grants (DCG) is happy to announce Michelle Wilkinson has joined our team supporting the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) and Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT). Michelle comes to us from the Viterbi School of Engineering where she served as an Associate Research Administrator. Her work experience in proposal development and post-award management will have an immediate impact on our commitment to providing quality customer service!  

In addition to the staffing update, we recently distributed a Newsflash detailing updated university fringe benefit rates. The new federal and non-federal fringe benefit rates are effective July 1, 2022 and should be used in all proposals to extramural sponsors. 

DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL RESOURCES: In order to continue fulfilling our mission in bringing excellent animal care to you, we are notifying you that service, quarantine, and animal housing per diem rates will be increasing at a rate of 9% effective July 1, 2022. There have been no rate increases since 2019. These new rates reflect the proportion at which animal husbandry, surgical supplies, facility materials, and personnel effort have increased due to inflation.  Without these materials, supplies, and personnel services, we would not be able to provide you and your staff with the best quality of laboratory animal care. Please see the rate schedule on dar.usc.edu for the housing rates, service charges, and other fees so that you can plan accordingly.  

DAR is aware of the space challenges presented for faculty recruitment and for ongoing projects. To find solutions, the Department is working with the Provost’s Office to investigate how space utilization costs may be applied to animal facility rooms that are not occupied by animals or where per diem is not applicable. DAR promotes experimental space consolidation and collaborative efforts among investigators as exemplified with the maintenance and support of shared procedure rooms in most facilities.  More information will be provided in the coming months.  

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH & SAFETY: Recently, EH&S has received multiple recent reports of “near-misses” that could have resulted in permanent eye damage. Luckily, researchers involved did not suffer any significant lasting effects, however we cannot rely on luck moving forward. Please require researchers in your labs to wear eye protection whenever working in labs and handling any type of liquids. 

USC Environmental Health & Safety recently published a Monkeypox Health Alert in response to the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting that member states (which are not endemic to Monkeypox) have identified confirmed cases of Monkeypox throughout the month of May 2022. The CDC also reported multiple confirmed cases in several U.S. states during the same time frame. 

Furthermore, EH&S is pleased to announce the launch of online training for Shipment of Biohazardous Materials and Dry Ice on Trojan Learn. The training is required for any laboratory personnel tasked with shipping biohazardous materials and dry ice at USC.  

Additionally, USC EH&S Chemical Inventory teams continue to visit labs conducting initial inventory setup using the Risk & Safety Solutions (RSS) application. Soon, labs will also utilize RSS for personnel management, inspections, waste pickup requests, lab hazard assessments and more. Read more about RSS here