December 2022 Newsletter

Dear colleagues,

Happy Holidays!

As we approach the new year and finish out the semester, I’d like to take the time to thank and acknowledge the hard work of staff and faculty toward research, innovation and creative scholarship. It has been an exciting second quarter for me as I get to know our University community better and learn about the amazing accomplishments in research, innovation and creative scholarship.

This month’s newsletter highlights Upul Attanayake, professor of civil and construction engineering and director of the Michigan Department of Transportation Center of Excellence for Structural Durability. The center provides services related to transportation and highway structure durability.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family and friends, and I look forward to seeing you next year!


Remzi Seker, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research and Innovation

Meet Our Researchers

Headshot of Updul AttanayakeDr. Upul Attanayake, professor of civil and construction engineering, is director of the Michigan Department of Transportation Center of Excellence for Structural Durability. The center’s vision is to provide critical knowledge and services related to transportation structure research, operations, policy and training. Its mission is to partner with highway agencies, public agencies and consultants to improve the condition and durability of highway structures by extending the service life with minimum maintenance.

Dr. Attanayake states that “the biggest challenges that we have are to make sure that the results are implementable in real-world applications and the implemented results extend the service life of our infrastructure under the long-term exposure to elements.”

Since the center's research includes structural health monitoring, nondestructive testing and assessing the causes of concrete durability, a multi-disciplinary research approach is needed. The research team includes members with backgrounds ranging from civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, statisticians, material scientists, geologists and many others representing academia and consultants.

The present team includes three Ph.D. students, two master's students and three undergraduates with a split of four male and four female students. These students contribute to literature review, advanced analysis, design, and laboratory and field data collection.

Dr. Attanayake works closely with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). He provides support to MDOT for the implementation and evaluation of project findings, provides training and technical assistance that will directly support MDOT in achieving its performance goals of safety, mobility and productivity of the Michigan highway system.

WMed Lunch & Learn: Research and Grant Writing Series continues

The WMed Lunch and Learn: Research and Grant Writing Series continues, with each session beginning at noon. Contact Angela Morris to register.

  • Dec. 19: State of Michigan Grant Funding for Translational Research
  • Jan. 16: Beyond the Narrative: Making Every Grant Attachment Count
  • Feb. 20: WMED Research Academy
  • March: TBD
  • April 10: Community-based Grants
  • May: TBD

Spring 2023 Discovery Acceleration workshops begin in January

Join the Office of Research and Innovation for its Spring 2023 Discovery Acceleration Workshops starting at noon each day. Lunch will be served.

  • Monday, Jan. 30, Sangren Hall, Room 4560, "Research Compliance"
  • Monday, Feb. 20, Schneider Hall, Room 2150, "Export Control"
  • Monday, March 20, Parkview Campus, Floyd Hall, Room 132, "Early Career Funding"

Attention Principal Investigators! National Science Foundation's FastLane submission system will be retired on Jan. 27

FastLane supplemental funding request functionality will remain available in parallel for the preparation and submission of new requests until Friday, Jan 27. After, all proposals and other grant items will be submitted through Please contact your Research Program Officer if you have questions.

Important FastLane proposal preparation and supplemental funding request transition deadlines:

  • Last day to submit new proposals in FastLane is Friday, Jan. 27, by 5 p.m. submitter’s local time. Note that FastLane remains a submission option for only 9% of current funding opportunities as of Oct. 24.

  • Last day to submit new supplemental funding is Friday, Jan. 27, by 5 p.m. submitter’s local time.

  • Last day to submit proposal file dates and budget revisions in FastLane is Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, by 5 p.m. submitter’s local time.

Faculty Research and Creative Activities Award (FRACAA) open for proposals

FRACAA supports faculty in significant research, rigorous scientific inquiry, original artistic activity and inventive technology. FRACAA is a competitive award that is made for up to $15,000, which requires submission of an external funding proposal within 18 months of the end of the project period. The competition is now open in InfoReady, found in the Schedule portion of the webpage. Proposals are due Friday, Feb. 10. If you have questions, please contact Mark Hurwitz or Christine Stamper.

Find more FRACAA information

Prior Approval form updated

The Prior Approval form, used for no-cost extensions, budget revisions, pre-award costs and other grant changes, has been updated. Drop down boxes have replaced listed request approval options as well as grant agency options. The justification box has been enlarged to allow for sufficient justification detail. Signature requirements have been added if the request will also require going back to the awarding agency.

Spring release time for grants

Please make sure Planned Effort forms for spring have been submitted to Grants and Contracts. The Planned Effort form should reflect the period of time the individual is working on the grant. If there are questions about the time frame someone is planning to work, please reach out to us. These forms need to be complete prior to the work being done. If ecrt is confirmed with the release time missing, which includes release time that is cost share, the department may not be able to recover the release time savings.

Please refer to Grants and Contracts website in the forms section. If the forms have not been turned in, the department will be responsible for completing the JES for each pay period missed.

Collaborating with WMed

To continue to foster collaboration in the area of research and proposal development, the Office of Research and Innovation and WMed’s Sponsored Programs Administration office will be working together this year. The hope is to foster more opportunities for researchers to develop interdisciplinary projects. This collaboration will include providing an open invitation to Western faculty, staff and students to participate in WMed's Lunch and Learn Series, which requires you to register through email. No registration is required for Discovery Acceleration Workshops.

Find the schedule for the WMed Lunch and Learn Series. To indicate interest and receive further information on collaborating with WMed, please fill out the Qualtrics survey.

Research compliance updates

The spring semester is a busy time for the WMU Institutional Review Board (WMU IRB), with students hoping to submit human subject research protocols.

Please note, students are not automatically given access to Cayuse, the online IRB protocol management system that must be used to submit research projects to the WMU IRB. Faculty, staff and students may reach out to Julia Mays, associate director research compliance, to request access to Cayuse IRB. Please include the full name and WMU email address for the individuals you wish to add.

Graduate student research and travel awardees announced

The Graduate College has awarded 29 travel grants and 15 research grants to students who applied in the fall 2022 award cycle. View the list of recipients

Data services for researchers from the Libraries

The University Libraries offers data services to help the campus community find and manage research data. Researchers may find that some funding agencies require data management plans or deposits in open-access repositories. The Libraries can help you navigate these requirements.

Our data services include reviewing data management plans, researching secondary data sets and helping researchers curate data for deposit. Set up a consultation with data librarian Daria Orlowska to get started.

Spring Convocation date announced

Please mark your calendars for the third annual virtual Spring Convocation scheduled for Friday, April 21. As the date draws near, we will be sending out more information along with the link for you to attend.

New publication

Whitney DeCamp, "Development of a self-report instrument for measuring online teaching practices and discussion facilitation."

Keep us in the loop

ORI is very interested in hearing about the accomplishments of our faculty in the areas of research and creative activities. For example, we have a wall with copies of journal covers highlighting the work of our faculty, students and staff. If your work has been featured, please print a high-quality 8 ½ x 11-inch copy of the cover, sign it and send it to Remzi Seker or Kelli Bond for inclusion on the wall.  

In addition, we love to hear about awarded fellowships, notable awards outside of the University, honor society memberships and special activities that we can highlight. It's easy for us to know grants, but it's very important for us to highlight all of the achievements at WMU. Don't forget—the Office of the Provost would also like copies of your books!