RIGE developing new research core facilities to support innovation at the UO

RIGE Research Core Facilities (RRCFs) are organized to support the research and innovation activities of University of Oregon faculty, staff and students in a manner that comports with federal, state and university policies. For over a year, RIGE has been working to formalize and systematize the organization and operation of extant research core facilities, and provide a mechanism for the development of new core facilities.

The process of reviewing policies at other universities, incorporating federal and state regulatory directives and considering the UO context for such facilities has yielded a draft Guidance for RIGE Research Core Facilities document. The report recognizes that faculty research success is often dependent on access to specialized facilities that provide access to a particular type of research capacity, (e.g., equipment, material, data acquisition, data analysis, consultation or expertise, and/or other service). The document also recognizes that graduate students take advantage of access to these tools and capacities by receiving specific training in their use and application, in conducting projects both independently and with their faculty mentors, and in pursuing later job opportunities. Additionally, small and large business entities, in many business sectors in Oregon and across the country, look to the UO to provide access to cutting edge equipment and expertise to expand capacity, to build synergies and partnerships with faculty, and to reduce their investment burden.

For a number of reasons (outlined below), it is not feasible for high tech research tools and equipment or expertise to be devoted to a single user or project:

  1. First, the cost typically outstrips a single faculty start-up package, research grant or industry contract.
  2. Second, accessing and applying the equipment to specific research problems requires specialized expertise that many users do not possess.
  3. Finally, technology is advancing so rapidly, systematic, coordinated efforts need to be made in an ongoing manner to assure continued university access to the most modern equipment and expertise.

Research Core Facilities provide services for a fee to multiple researchers and groups and are governed by federal, state and university service center policies. In some cases, their business model includes external, fee-paying clients

The Center for Advanced Materials Characterization in Oregon (CAMCOR) pioneered this approach as the first research core facility of its kind at the University of Oregon, providing cutting edge physical science tools and expertise to internal faculty/staff/student and external entity users to enable outstanding research and innovation.

Other examples of research core facilities include:

The Research Core Facility organizational structure is a known as a competitive advantage for successfully obtaining large scale instrumentation and center grants. In recognition of the widespread user need for access to research core facilities in many disciplines that span across the campus, RIGE, in partnership with units, has initiated an effort to enhance the support for, and systematic organization of, these specialized core research facilities. The purpose of the guidelines document is to provide guidance that sets out the common structure for the RIGE Research Core Facilities and states the shared expectations of the various stakeholders involved in their use, operation, and management, to advance excellence in research, innovation and graduate education.

The process for developing such guidance, which is still ongoing includes RIGE staff meeting with individuals and groups including but not limited to the Research Advisory Board, the facility staff members, the facility directors, user groups and administrators in the VPFA office who are responsibility for the university’s overall service center policy, under which core research facilities fall.  The document is drafted to consider the UO’s rich institutional culture, adopt practices from successful models at other institutions and to conform to federal, state and university regulation and policy.  The process of finalizing the guidance framework and implementation of processes and procedures will continue in 2014.