We write to tell you of the outcome of our review of the joint appointment proposals we received in May. We received a total of 14 proposals from across all three campuses and including all main campus and medical center schools. All of the proposals were compelling and reflected the intellectual creativity and interests of our faculty. It was clear that Georgetown is more than ready to engage in and grow interdisciplinary research and teaching through joint appointments of faculty members.
The committee--made up of the EVPs, school senior leaders, and Deans--met several times for discussion of the proposals. We were committed to identifying five proposals to fund. The decisions were challenging in the face of such thoughtfully constructed proposals.
Through this initiative, we aim to recruit extraordinary senior faculty members who will bring national attention to our effort to increase interdisciplinary research and teaching, in general, and in the interdisciplinary areas in which we are searching this year, in particular.
As noted in the call for proposals, joint appointments between campuses/schools were favored over joint appointments between units within the same school. Similarly, joint appointments between units with well-defined teaching/research synergies and those with jointly-offered courses benefiting students in both units were favored over others. Finally, joint appointments entailing association with an existing interdisciplinary research effort at Georgetown were ranked highly.
Following these guidelines and with the additional interest to spread these appointments broadly across the schools and units, we selected the following proposals for funding. You will note the list is comprised of six appointments, which we were able to support owing to the availability of an endowment to expand the funding pool.
Cross-campus Joint Searches
1. Department of Biology, Georgetown College and Department of Pathology, GU Medical Center: Stem Cell Biology
The biology of stem cells is an exciting new research frontier that offers new insights and opportunities for understanding many basic processes, including aging, cancer and embryonic development. Indeed, the applications of stem cell biology to medicine are multifold and include uses for the prognosis, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, the treatment of age-related diseases, the treatment of genetically inherited diseases, and the regeneration of diseased or damaged tissues.
2. Department of Computer Science, Georgetown College and Georgetown Law: Information Privacy
Matters concerning data, privacy, and policy are also central concerns that need systematic attention. Commercial collection of massive data sets, together with governments’ desire to obtain and use these data, raise serious concerns about both the privacy of the people represented in the data set as well as how these data may nonetheless be put to public purpose. The combination of legal scholars and computer scientists would be a strong one in this realm. Those on the policy side could specify how they wanted to use or share the data; the computer scientists could devise systems to allow it to happen, but provide strong guarantees that the data was not being used in other ways.
Cross-school Joint Searches
3. Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Department of Psychology, Georgetown College, with involvement of the Department of Neuroscience: Cognitive Aging
The world is facing a demographic shift often called the “gray tsunami.” Due to increasing longevity, declining fertility rates, and population-control policies, the percent of the population over the age of 65 is increasing dramatically. Cognitive Aging is an umbrella term for the subfield within Aging that focuses on the individual’s mental factors in the context of aging. These include affective and cognitive processes, their brain bases, genetic and environmental influences, and effects on outcomes for adaptive functioning.
4. McCourt School of Public Policy and Department of Computer Science, Georgetown College: Data Analytics Policy
To enable sound data-based decision making ability, society needs leaders trained in both policy and data analysis. This is a disjoint set of skills that have historically appeared in separate programs - public policy and computer science. Recognizing the need for these interdisciplinary leaders, however, academic programs are beginning to appear that address the training needs for individuals who have a passion for this area. These programs include both aspects of policy analysis and data science.
5. McDonough School of Business and School of Foreign Service: International Business
To build on the recent joint master’s degree in International Business and Policy, this joint appointment would bring in a faculty member with a strong research agenda in the economic, strategic and political drivers of success for private sector and public sector organizations.
6. McDonough School of Business and Department of Computer Science, Georgetown College: Business Analytics
A hire in the area of Business Analytics would bring a strong research agenda in Operations Research and Management, Business Information Systems, Business Analytics, Statistics, Econometrics, or other business related field. Possible areas of interest could include: utilizing large-scale data with data mining and machine learning to optimize business operations, algorithmic design for mathematical economics, mechanism design, optimization, game theory, or risk mitigation and analysis in complex networked systems such as business supply chains.
We were very encouraged by the enthusiastic response of our faculty for this initiative. We hope these are but the start of many conversations about growing interdisciplinary research and teaching at Georgetown.
Bob Groves, Provost Ed Healton, Executive Vice President, Medical Center Bill Treanor, Executive Vice President and Dean, Law Center