Question #16

How will the Montana University System’s Science and Technology Advisory Committee (MUSSTAC), formerly the EPSCoR Committee, ensure greater transparency and accountability to the MUS on research funding?  The committee’s role is also to serve as advocates for Science and Technology Research and Graduate Education and includes campus members whose role is to lobby for public resources and has few public members.

  • The Montana University System Science and Technology Advisory Committee (MUSSTAC), formed in October 2008, helps the Montana University System focus its research and technology transfer activities on major areas that can support Montana’s economy and serve its citizens.  Fourteen people serve on the committee, and all have been engaged actively in defining core focus areas for research and writing a plan to detail those areas, supporting components, and strategies for moving the plan forward.  The plan, titled Montana Science Serving Montana Citizens, is posted on the MUS website.  (http://mus.edu/research/default.asp

  • In March and April 2009, MUSSTAC members will review and rank pre-proposals from the research campuses for the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research Infrastructure Improvement Program (NSF-EPSCoR RII): Track 1.  The call for pre-proposals (http://mus.edu/research/default.asp) requires MUS faculty to directly address one or more of the focus areas described in the MUS Science and Technology Plan.

  • MUSSTAC members were asked to participate based on their interest and/or active involvement in science and technology, their knowledge of Montana, and their ability to engage in critical review of the academic research and development and technology transfer enterprises.  Two state senators and two state representatives, a member of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (who represents the governor’s office), two business people from successful technology-based firms, a corporate counsel for a large Montana bank, an associate director for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rocky Mountain Laboratories, the vice presidents for research from UM and MSU, the provosts from UM and MSU, and the MUS Deputy Commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs comprise the total membership.

  • MUSSTAC members, by gaining access to and understanding of the MUS research and technology transfer enterprises, can help provide critical review of our programs and our processes.  The nine members who are outside the system bring their unique views of research and technology transfer to the committee, and discussions have been lively with broad and varying views expressed.  As the relatively young committee continues to work together and refine its role, the committee should be able to help MUS researchers communicate more widely and more effectively with all those who have a shared interest in Montana research activities. 
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