September 2022 Newsletter

Dear colleagues,

I want to begin my inaugural newsletter by thanking everyone for the warm and hospitable welcome I received in joining the Western community. My transition has been met with friendly faces, thorough planning, willingness to collaborate and support. I was impressed and pleased to witness the level of energy and desire to serve our students and the larger WMU community better.

I am excited to be working with you to produce research and creative scholarship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students; we can do this through increasing our involvement with government, industry, businesses and nonprofit organizations. My focus always has been and will remain on supporting our students, both undergraduate and graduate, with special attention to undergraduate students. If you haven’t looked at the Student Funding Sources page in a while, please do so now; many opportunities are available.

Below we are highlighting one of our researchers, Amy Bocko, associate professor of University Libraries, whose current research focuses on digitizing, archiving and safeguarding the history of the Kalamazoo community.

I would also like to welcome a new staff member: Courtney Michalka; she is one of our latest research program officers to join the WMU team.

I am looking forward to working with every one of you on our journey of collective enrichment.


Remzi Seker, Ph.D.

Vice President for Research and Innovation


Meet our researchers


Amy Bocko

Headshot of Amy Bocko

My current research focuses on growing collaborations with local cultural-heritage and community-focused organizations to support accessible digitization; create online archival collections; and safeguard the important history, stories and materials of the Kalamazoo community. This goes hand in hand with my interest in digital storytelling and how we can use the materials we’re digitizing and collecting to create dynamic and engaging narratives using open-source software. One of elements I love the most about what I do is that by its very nature it’s multidisciplinary. When it comes to my work on campus, I get to collaborate with a wide variety of talented colleagues across the University. Some of my most recent projects have come from collaborations with faculty in occupational therapy, comparative religion and communications.

One of my goals is to create online archival collections that reflect the diversity and activism that can be found in Kalamazoo.  By creating partnerships with outside organizations and communities and using the tools we have at our disposal in WMU Libraries, I look to create collaborative digital projects and collections that preserve the voices and ownership of the stories, materials and histories of our partners. In support of this goal, I’ve been working on building a “lending library" with easy-to-follow, detailed guides for digitization equipment needed for collection building: scanning photos, recording oral histories, photographing 3D objects, etc. As I continue this work, I plan to create new paid opportunities for student researchers to work closely on these projects with me and our partners.

Upcoming events

Research and Travel, Virtual Grant Application Workshop

Wednesday, Sept. 28

Supporting Arts and Humanities Projects speaker series begins

Friday, Sept. 30

"Meet Technology, Innovation and Partnerships” workshop

Monday, Oct. 24

“Open Access Publishing" workshop

Monday, Nov. 7


Welcome a new staff member

We would like to extend a warm welcome to ORI’s newest research program officer, Courtney Michalka. Courtney comes to the Office of Research and Innovation after working 10 years within the Van Buren County Court system. Please visit our website for a list of Courtney’s constituents . We are very excited to have Courtney join our team.


Summer ecrt confirmation period opening soon 

The summer ecrt pre-review period, May 15 to Aug. 14, 2022, opened Sept. 13. Pre-review will need to be completed prior to the opening of confirmation, scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 27. Please refer to Grants and Contracts ecrt information for step-by-step instructions. Before clicking the pre-review button, please make sure all payroll, direct or cost share for the project is reflected and accurate. If not, please contact Grants and Contracts.


Fall release time for grants

Please make sure Planned Effort forms for fall 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, the department may not be able to recover the release-time savings.

Please refer to the 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 WMU 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.


NSF 2023 MRI funding opportunity

Applications for the NSF MRI internal competition will be accepted until Monday, Oct. 3, at 5 p.m. Submit your application in InfoReady by accessing this link in the limited submission on our website.


Focus on lifting up arts and humanities faculty, attend and be inspired by your colleagues and our guests

The Supporting Arts and Humanities Projects speaker series is aimed at faculty and other researchers in those broad areas of inquiry who want to know how to obtain internal and external funding for their projects but don't know where to start. Featuring experts from outside the University and from WMU, the series is for faculty at any level who need inspiration and concrete advice on how to prepare, present and compete for project grant support. For more information and to register, which is not required but appreciated, visit the website.

Next event is “How (and Why) to Apply for Grants and Fellowships in the Humanities,” presented by Dr. Marilynn Richtarik, professor of English at Georgia State University, on Friday, Sept. 30, from noon to 1:30 p.m.  Please RSVP. Lunch will be provided.


Funding opportunities available  from Graduate College 

This week the Graduate College will be emailing graduate students a list of external funding opportunities for the fall semester. Here is a sampling of some programs that have an upcoming deadline:

•American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Mellon Dissertation Fellowship, due Wednesday, Sept. 28

•Claude and Nancy Phillips International and Area Studies Scholarship, due Saturday, Oct. 1


Graduate student research and travel, virtual conference grants available

The Graduate College offers two funding opportunities that support graduate student scholarly activity: the Graduate Student Research Grant and the Graduate Student Travel/Virtual Grant . Applications for both are due Thursday, Oct. 27. There are two award cycles for the 2022-23 academic year, one each in fall and spring. Please encourage graduate students to register to attend the Research and Travel/Virtual Grant Application Workshop to learn more about these grants and how to submit a successful application on Wednesday, Sept. 28, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in Walwood Hall, East Campus. Find workshop details.


Discover funding opportunities in the Foundation Directory

Looking for funding opportunities? You can now access the Foundation Directory courtesy of the Office of Research and Innovation and University Libraries. Search the directory for more information about funding agencies, grants and other opportunities to support your research goals.


Join Discovery Acceleration workshops 

Hosted by the Office of Research and Innovation, each fall Discovery Acceleration workshop begins at noon.

•Monday, Oct. 24, Mark Hurwitz leads “Meet TIP-Technology, Innovation and Partnerships.” WebEx link

•Monday, Nov. 7, Michele Behr leads “Open Access Publishing.”


Spring Convocation date set

Please mark your calendars, the third annual virtual Spring Convocation is scheduled for Friday, April 14. As the date draws near, we will be sending out more information along with the link for you to attend.


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—Interim Provost Chris Cheatham would also like copies of your books!