UNM faculty learn how to make a good proposal great with better broader impacts

UNM Faculty Research Support Officer Stephanie Tofighi hands out her development worksheets at Advance at UNM workshop on Friday Sept. 27, 2019. Photo by Marina Bernal / Advance at UNM.

UNM faculty working on research proposals recently learned to improve the broader impacts of their research in a workshop hosted by Advance at UNM.

Workshop speakers included Stephanie Tofighi, a faculty research support officer with the UNM Faculty Research Development Office, Anthony Salvagno, an X Studio programs manager for Explora X Studio, and Mitchell Whittier, STEM-NM manager at Explora Science Center.

Tofighi said scientific research can have impacts beyond academia. These broader impact zones can include economy, public policy, society and environment, teaching and learning, and more. 

Whittier, who works with STEM NM, said there are many ways to encourage K-12 kids to pursue STEM.

“It’s all about producing a community that values STEM and education. It’s going to take a village,” he said.

STEM-NM Manager at Explora Science Center Mitchell Whittier speaks to UNM faculty at Friday’s workshop. Photo by Marina Bernal / Advance at UNM.

Salvagno said there is a lengthy process involved with proposing broader impacts. 

“This is bigger than just one institution,” Salvagno said. He said the process of collaborating with the UNM Faculty Research Development Office and Explora for broader impacts involves (1) having stakeholders meet to discuss research and needs (2) identifying existing programs that fit, or designing new programs (3) co-developing the Broader Impacts narrative and budget for both FRDO and Explora (4) further discussing program needs and execution. He also passed out a “menu” from explora that described their services for UNM faculty. This menu included Broader Impacts Project Development, Exhibit Development, Outreach Development, Program Placement, Partner Pairing, and Science Communication Fellowship.

Whittier emphasized the importance of planning projects from the end and not the beginning. 

“Start with: what do I want these learners to walk away with? What are the outcomes?” he said.

UNM faculty attend Friday’s workshop. Photo by Marina Bernal / Advance at UNM.

Whittier passed out a worksheet to the faculty, asking them about their research and their current broader impacts plans. 

After giving the faculty a few minutes to discuss their broader impacts with others, the presenters closed by encouraging them to plan their broader impacts by collaborating with FRDO.

“Broader impacts are a way to extend yourself beyond your academic silos. Keep in mind today: you are not alone,” Tofighi said.