Q&A with Stuart Marcovitch, new Associate Dean for Research

Posted on May 20, 2024

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On May 1, Dr. Stuart Marcovitch became the interim Associate Dean for Research in the College of Arts of Sciences. A Professor of Psychology, Dr. Marcovitch has been at UNCG for 20 years. He co-directs the D.U.C.K Lab (Development and Understanding of Children’s Knowledge), where his research focuses on how children learn to control their behavior in challenging circumstances. He has served as head of the Department of Psychology for 9 years and recently completed a 6-year appointment as the editor-in-chief of the journal Cognitive Development. He is currently the president of the Jean Piaget Society. Dr. Marcovitch received his PhD and MA, both in Psychology, from the University of Toronto, and his BSc in Mathematics from McGill University.

What are the key responsibilities of an Associate Dean for Research? 
It is my job to do what I can to facilitate research in the college. I work with administration to ensure that faculty and students have opportunities to carry out high quality, innovative research that is making a difference. I help faculty secure resources for their research activities, and make sure that they are able to disseminate their findings in ways that are consistent with their discipline. I also get to work directly with Dean Adamson and the other Associate Deans in representing the College to the university.  

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in this position?  
The current plan is for me to only spend a year in this position, and I hope to maintain and improve upon current initiatives that we provide to College faculty. In my career, I had periods where I had strong external funding that covered my research expenses, and periods where I did not and had to rely on local resources to conduct my work. As I am sensitive to both scenarios, I hope to be able to assist faculty wherever they may be in their research process. 

How does a strong research program benefit the College?  
I was drawn to UNCG for our teacher/scholar model. As active researchers in the field, we can bring an additional perspective to the classroom based on our experiences – I often challenge my students as to how they would design studies that will answer their questions, and I can legitimately discuss with them the feasibility and limitations of their ideas. This leads to advances in their critical thinking. Further, by having active research faculty, mentored research experience allows our students to participate in cutting edge research that will likely be published in peer reviewed journals or other prominent outlets. This clearly separates us form other universities with similar tuition costs. Finally, strong research programs attract strong faculty. 

Do you have any advice for faculty members seeking to grow their research portfolio? 
There are many research profiles and the way to increase your productivity or breadth can depend on your personality. Some of us are better collaborators and can work in large teams of researchers, while others among us work better when we have primary control over our research endeavors. Some of our research requires vast expenses, while others can be done relatively inexpensively. Some of us have reasonable time built into our workplans to conduct research, while others are more limited in the time they can devote. But no matter what your current situation is, it can improve with planning and persistence. Our office can offer some help with resources and can also set researchers up with other faculty for possible collaboration or for friendly advice. 

You’ve been a department head. How can department heads support the research enterprise? 
The department heads set their budget priorities and, based on constraints, must decide how research fits in. One area where heads can be effective is with class scheduling – sometimes all a faculty member needs to engage in research activity is a block of protected time. Department heads can also help by passing on opportunities that they hear about to the faculty. Finally, as an Associate Dean I have more contact with heads than the rest of the faculty, so alert heads can make sure that I am aware of the needs and barriers of their faculty. 

What is one CAS Office of Research program or service you would highlight?  
The P3 program is the jewel of the College’s Office of Research. Faculty can get up to $3,000 to assist in research activities that are intended to lead to an application for external funding. This helps faculty by providing seed money and helps their applications as external agencies look highly upon internal awards when making their funding decisions. 

Are there new supports you hope to put in place? 
We are working on creating SIRF (Seeding Innovative Research Fund) awards. These will be $700 awards for faculty who need a small infusion of money to promote their research. Unlike the P3 program, there is no expectation that this will lead to external funding applications (although it would be great if it could, and this could be used as a supplement to a P3 award).  This award also will be open to all full-time faculty, permitting PTF and AP faculty to use it (including for travel). We hope to launch the program in August, so faculty should be on the lookout then. 

What advice do you have for someone applying for external funding?  
Simple – talk to Chad. He knows a lot about the process of applying for external funding, and what he doesn’t know he will find out. Truly an invaluable resource to the College! 

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