Issue Date: July 2, 2012
Research Corporation Mystery Solved
I was delighted to read Robert Lichter’s letter, “Remembering Research Corporation” (C&EN, May 14, page 4). Lichter describes the “unannounced campus visits” of regional directors (RDs) to meet the authors of proposals to Research Corporation (RC) and get a sense of the person and the institution; in the process, Lichter solved a mystery and brought me back to sweet moments related to my own experience with RC.
Until now, I didn’t know about this RC strategy, and this is my story: In July 1984 I submitted a proposal to RC. In the fall, I opened the door of my lab and the visitor told me, “I am Brian Andreen. Can we discuss your proposal to RC?” Andreen was the RD I had contacted while he was in Minnetonka, Minn.; he later moved to Arizona. It was a few minutes after 5 PM, and I was getting ready for the evening polymer class I taught at 5:15. I told my students that I would be a bit late.
He and I had an interesting conversation about my research project, science in general, my institution, and where I wanted to be in the future. I greatly enjoyed the visit, and the happy ending: In March 1985 Andreen wrote me that my proposal was funded to the tune of $9,000. It was the first grant of my career, and it allowed me to start building my lab. A major expense was the acquisition of a state-of-the-art IBM personal computer, 256 kB, priced at $2,135.
The RC grant had a huge impact on my career and was followed by grants from NSF and from other federal agencies, industrial labs, and the American Association of University Women. I stayed in touch with Andreen and reported to him on my research and my science.
Over the years I thought about the unexpected visit: Maybe he was caught in traffic, or maybe I missed a phone call from him or from an assistant. I want to thank Lichter for finally solving the mystery!
The strategy of unannounced visits of RDs with the candidates that Lichter describes reinforces my idea that face-to-face encounters are the best way to do research, to initiate collaborations, and to assess the chances of success.
By Shulamith Schlick
- Chemical & Engineering News
- ISSN 0009-2347
- Copyright © American Chemical Society