Top of Mind: This Is Your Research Office

Cynthia Sagers
Cynthia Sagers

RESEARCH IS INTEGRAL TO THE UNIVERSITY MISSION, to any university’s mission, to the very idea of a university. It crosses all colleges, all departments, all disciplines.

That’s why the Research Office at Oregon State is laser-focused on growing the university’s research enterprise. And because that enterprise depends so heavily on you — our faculty, post-docs, grad students and undergraduate researchers — we’re committed to supporting you in every way possible.

In my new role as OSU’s vice president for research, I’m asking a lot of questions — questions about infrastructure, about space, about emerging technologies. What more can we do to make your lives better, your work more productive and satisfying? I’m puzzling about how to accommodate all those urgent needs within a fixed budget. Should we be talking about increasing efficiencies? Increasing services? Maybe. It’s too soon to know for sure. But I expect to have answers soon, once I get my feet on the ground and really understand how the office works.

Despite the super-restrictive budgets coming out of the federal agencies, Oregon State’s research revenue last year was phenomenal. The record-setting $308.9 million total for 2014 – 15 made it “a banner year” in the words of interim VP for Research Ron Adams. It’s amazing. Understanding how you’re doing so well in these challenging times is another of my immediate priorities.

I’m motivated to be an administrator, rather than continuing my life as a researcher, because I believe in the foundational importance of research to human well-being and in the critical need to convey that message broadly to the public and policymakers. Discovery, innovation and invention arise from basic research. The iPad, the iPhone — it all arose from fundamental questions about how things work.

I think it’s our nature as humans to wonder. How do things work? What is our place here? How did we get to be this way? We can find believable, repeatable answers to those questions through research. The scientific method goes a long, long way toward answering these enduring questions of human culture and existence.

We in the Research Office are at your service as you pursue the answers to these fundamental questions. We have your back.

Cynthia Sagers is Vice President for Research at Oregon State University