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FY 2021 ORSP Annual Report

Message from the Director

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Promoting a Vibrant Intellectual Community

While higher education is dealing with significant declines in student enrollment and the continuing pandemic, Ferris State University is not alone. Despite the many challenges in FY21, FSU achieved record-breaking success in grant awards and scholarly activity.

Tom Dowling, Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects

Thomas Dowling, PharmD, PhD
Director, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

Within academic affairs, there were 26 new grants awarded totaling $6.46 Million from federal, state, and private sources including the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), US Department of Defense and US Department of Education. These grants support faculty and student projects in STEM education, cybersecurity, COVID wastewater testing, rural opioid use crisis, and discovery of new drugs to treat cancer. An additional $1 Million in grants were awarded for 14 proposals from other units including KCAD, Student Affairs, Diversity & Inclusion, and Auxiliary Enterprises. Receiving nearly $8 Million in total new grants is particularly noteworthy given the highly competitive environment for grant funding in higher education.

As a primarily undergraduate institution, FSU’s commitment to student success is based on independence, critical thinking, discovery, and quest for new knowledge. Student-centered faculty mentoring relationships developed at Ferris, including the Student Summer Research Fellowship (SRF) program, enable student success beyond the classroom. Many of our SRF mentees have gone on to pursue post-graduate and PhD programs at prestigious institutions such as Princeton University, Baylor College of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, and the Van Andel Institute.

Our Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a valuable resource for faculty and students that are conducting research and creative projects that address real-world problems in the classroom, our communities, and beyond. The IRB plays a critical role across campus to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of those participating as subjects in research.

Scrolling through our milestones highlighted in the FY21 ORSP Annual Report below, you’ll see that it's the PEOPLE at Ferris that are creating a vibrant intellectual community. From our dedicated faculty, staff, and students to the individuals behind the scenes—their commitment to discovery of new knowledge and moving Ferris Forward — are living out the mission of our innovative founders Helen and Woodbridge N. Ferris.


FY 2021 Key Impacts


Increase in Funding Awarded over FY20

$6.5 Million

Total Grant Dollars Awarded in FY21


Applications for Funding Submitted


Award Highlights

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FY21 OSRP Results

Total Grant Dollars Awarded by Year (Academic Affairs)

Funding Awarded by College / Unit

Total Grants Awarded: 26

Total Amount Awarded: $6,462,666

Grant Submissions by Sponsor Type

Total Applications Submitted: 49

Total Amount Requested: $14,728,498

View List of All FY21 Grants


Message from the IRB

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The Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Ferris carries out the vital role of ensuring our faculty and students conduct quality human subjects research that complies with the highest ethical standards. This task is guided by Federal Regulations, University policies, and by the University’s core values—collaboration, diversity, ethical community, excellence, learning, and opportunity.

The IRB committee is comprised of a diverse group of volunteer faculty and staff from the various colleges within the University, as well as a community member. Each member brings a unique background and set of qualifications to ensure a diversity of viewpoints during the review process. Simply put, the work of research compliance would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of this group. The committee meets regularly to address IRB issues, develop policies and procedures, and review study applications. All applications undergo a screening review conducted by the Research Integrity & Compliance Officer, Maureen Wawsczyk, with further assignment based on review category.

Associate Provost Mandy Seiferlein, Provost Bobby Fleischman, Dr. Greg Wellman, ORSP Director Thomas Dowling, Associate Provost Leonard Johnson.

Left to Right: Associate Provost Mandy Seiferlein, Provost Bobby Fleischman, Dr. Greg Wellman, ORSP Director Thomas Dowling, Associate Provost Leonard Johnson.

In FY21, the IRB processed 309 total actions including 135 new applications, of which nearly 50% were student research projects. The IRB also worked extensively with IRBs at other institutions to create site reliance agreements, including Mercy Health Regional IRB, Metro Health IRB, Munson Medical Center IRB, Sparrow IRB, Spectrum Health System IRB and Western Michigan University IRB (WMED). These agreements help to streamline the reviews for projects involving our faculty and students at external sites.

Emergence from the COVID pandemic in 2021 brought an increase in need for educational programming offered virtually. Monthly professional development sessions, facilitated by Maureen Wawsczyk, are now offered to address compliance, IRB policies and procedures, and to answer questions from our faculty and students.

On one final note, as the newly elected Chair in 2021, I would like to thank the previous Chair, Greg Wellman, for his 6 years as IRB Chair and 9 years of overall service to the IRB. Dr. Wellman was instrumental in transitioning from a paper-based to electronic IRB system (Cayuse) and navigating research through the COVID pandemic. He was recently honored for his IRB service, and I want to personally extend my thanks once again for his hard work and dedication to the committee.



FY21 IRB Results

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IRB Actions by Fiscal Year

IRB Applications Submitted by College or Unit - FY21

Total Applications Submitted: 135

AA = Academic Affairs, CASE = College of Arts, Sciences and Education, CET = College of Engineering Technology, CHP = College of Health Professions, CLS = Hispanic/Latino Cultural Center, COB = College of Business, DCCL = Doctorate of Community College Leadership, FLITE = Ferris Library for Information, Technology and Education, KCAD = Kendall College of Art and Design, MCO = Michigan College of Optometry, PHR = College of Pharmacy, RSS = Retention & Student Success