Swarthmore has a sponsored research program that can be considered robust for a small liberal arts college. This project is designed to bring the College's practices up to the level of our R1 partners. This will enable Swarthmore to collaborate more effectively with R1-level institutions, either as a subcontractor or prime grantee. This capacity-building will, in turn, expand our nation's pool of undergraduate researchers - an important pipeline, as Swarthmore is fourth in the country in per capita production of students who go on to achieve a PhD in the natural sciences, engineering, or the social sciences. Furthermore, the sponsored research enhancement proposed here is designed to be replicable at peer institutions;Swarthmore will share information about best practices for (and pitfalls to avoid) in growing from a small- to medium-sized sponsored research program. The project is timely: In December 2011, Swarthmore completed its latest strategic plan, which foregrounds faculty and student research, high-impact learning experiences, community-based learning and research, and creating a more diverse, inclusive campus culture. In the coming years, we expect to hire approximately 25-30 new faculty, as we move from a 5- to 4-course load, with the concurrent expectation that faculty spend increased time on involving students in their own research and mentorship of students'research. Also, over the past decade Swarthmore has pioneered some programs to promote underrepresented minority (URM) participation in STEM research;now, with student enrollment increases planned for the coming decade, the College seeks to redouble those efforts. We also see additional as-yet-untapped potential for sponsored research growth in certain fields (e.g., our emerging neuroscience curriculum;behavioral health research led by faculty in the Economics Department) and will develop explicit sponsored research connections in those areas. Qualified student demand for research opportunities is outstripping the College's ability to provide them: not only laboratory research, but social science research that includes international and local community projects, and Swarthmore faculty (and students) are engaging in increasingly complex and challenging behavioral and social science research. This project seeks to ensure Swarthmore's growth in all these areas is supported by a proactive Sponsored Research Office strengthened by efficient pre-/post-award administration and compliance strategies and tools and backed by clear institutional policies in a campus culture that recognizes the infrastructural needs that make research excellence possible.
Swarthmore College, a small entirely undergraduate liberal arts institution, ranks fifth in the nation in the production of graduates who go on to attain a Ph.D. in a STEM field, and many of these students pursue careers in biomedical and bio behavioral fields. This success is primarily due to the caliber of our faculty and their commitment to their own research and to mentoring the nation's next generation of research scientists. Swarthmore's collaborative team of faculty, staff, and administrators request funding for targeted initiatives to take our sponsored research program to the next level in terms of professionalism, size, and shared best practices, which we will disseminate to our peers at the vanguard of institutions training undergraduates to become independent researchers.