Islander Advisory Group CPIRA Elevates Campus Research Environment

By Luisa Buttler, Savannah Spears | Published: August 22, 2019

Islander Advisory Group CPIRA Elevates Campus Research Environment

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Innovative research, creating unique learning opportunities, and serving the needs of the Coastal Bend community are all objectives of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. In an effort to improve innovative research, the Council of Principal Investigators and Research Administrators (CPIRA) is an interdisciplinary advisory group who serves as a conduit between administration and the Island University’s research community. Established in 2013, CPIRA was designed to create a unified voice for the Islander researchers. 

CPIRA representatives include Principal Investigators, Co-Principal Investigators, and Research Administrators. The current chair is Dr. Phyllis Robertson, Program Coordinator and Associate Professor of Special Education. Vice-Chair, Dr. Sarah Scott, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and Public Administration, will assume leadership responsibilities in September. CPIRA’s Coordinator is Erin Hill, Research Specialist for the Center for Coastal Studies.

“We pride ourselves on improving the University’s research environment by increasing awareness of students, faculty, and staff needs,” said Robertson. “We work with others on campus to develop solutions to address the unique issues our researchers face.”

CPIRA has addressed these needs with early initiatives such as establishing a Principal Investigator eligibility policy, creating procedures for a post-doctoral research associates, and working with administration on a hazardous waste disposal protocol. CPIRA has also actively advocated for increasing support for graduate students to enhance recruitment and retention of the most qualified candidates.

Recently, CPIRA has worked to enhance communication with the campus research community through development of the ResearchNews listserv, increase awareness of facilities needs within the research community, and provide input on research rules and procedures, including the recently published Facilities and Administrative Costs of Extramural Grants. The Council, in collaboration with Dr. Ahmed Mahdy and the Division of Research and Innovation, has developed a “Roles & Responsibilities Matrix” that identifies specific duties that should be assumed by various individuals and campus offices involved in conducting sponsored research.  They also collaborate to identify and address professional development needs of those in the research community.

“CPIRA is dedicated to working with the administration to achieve the goal of being nationally recognized and competitive in research, other sponsored activities and teaching,” Robertson said.  “The Tier 2 designation represents one such national recognition of the University’s productivity in the awarding of research/scholarly doctoral degrees along with enhanced research activity and expenditures.”

CPIRA holds monthly meetings that are open to the campus community. The group also plans to host a research forum in fall 2019. The forum will explore opportunities for increasing innovation and making a strong regional impact.  Under Scott’s term, they will also add a comment box to the CPIRA website as a convenient means of soliciting feedback from the research community.

Visit the CPIRA website or contact your CPIRA representative for more information.