• Listening Tour

    By Karin Scarpinato
    Thursday, Sept. 28

    It’s been a busy few days. On Friday, I held a Town Hall meeting to update the university community of progress and updates from the Office of Research. This meeting was recorded and can be accessed through our website. We are solidifying the “tracks” within the four research thrusts and will look into networking events to form research teams soon. Also last week, KSU had good representation at the Health Connect South Conference, which included several interesting panel discussions from healthcare specialists. We made some potential connections that may benefit the “One Health” research thrust.

    On the international platform, we started discussions with some of the Japanese companies headquartered in our region. Workforce development is the primary driver, but we are looking into expansion into research.

    This week I started expanding my “Listening Tour” to external stakeholders, including some of our trustees. These initial meetings were informative and indicated the strong support we have from our trustees.

    We are continuing our “Research On-boarding” for faculty new to KSU, which allows them to tell our staff about our research, so we can best provide support.

    Internally, we are continuing to work on improvements to our processes and procedures.

      • Another busy week as we are working toward defining KSU Research and its strengths. As mentioned previously, we have identified four very broad research thrusts.

        We are now inviting you to provide feedback on what research strengths could make up a “track” within each thrust. To provide this input, please scroll down on this page and click on the respective box. There will be areas/initiatives/interests that horizontally integrate all four thrusts — let us know what these might be. There will be research areas that may end up not “fitting” into these areas — please be assured that any research project will be supported at the same level. Focus areas define those areas upon which we might be able to build teams in pursuit of larger funding opportunities, which is in part what drives this effort.

        With Rachel Kinney’s arrival as the new Executive Director for Sponsored Programs, we have begun to make improvements to our processes that I hope will be noticeable shortly.

        Look out for a number of programming and seed funding opportunities that have been or will shortly been announced, as our new Interim Director of Research Development & Strategic Initiatives, Dr. Heather Abbott-Lyon, works on establishing support programs for you, our researchers.

        With Dr. Tyler Reinagel moving under the VP for External Affairs, we have worked on restructuring the new “Innovation & Commercialization” unit. I am very pleased to announce that Dr. Chris Cornelison has accepted the position of Interim AVP for Innovation & Commercialization. A formal internal call for applications for this position will follow, with the plan to have the position permanently filled by January 1.

        We are currently looking toward establishing our programming within the Innovation & Commercialization area, with a mid- to longer-term goal to expand the reach of our business incubator, HatchBridge. More to come on this soon.

      • As we are entering the second phase of my Listening Tour, we have identified four interdisciplinary research clusters: Emerging Technologies, Green Communities, The Human Condition, Innovative Creativity. These are very broad areas, and we will be spending the next few weeks of the Listening Tour determining research tracks under each of these themes that makes sense at KSU. There are also a number of horizontally integrated areas, such as undergraduate research, commercialization and AI, that intersect with all of these areas.

        Please know that, while we are identifying areas that KSU Research has particular strengths in, we will continue supporting any type of research, regardless of its fit with these themes. The themes were identified as part of the Listening Tour and will primarily be used for external communication and team-based funding opportunities.

        As always, you can meet with me personally to provide input, participate in one of the group/faculty meetings or participate in one of the VPR breakfasts that are now scheduled, to provide your input. We will also be adding an online opportunity to provide input on the research tracks. In support of these interdisciplinary research themes, we have been working on guidelines for a number of internal funding mechanisms that will be launched shortly.

        Please look out for resources from Research Development & Strategic Initiatives (RDSI) that our interim Director, Dr. Heather Abbott-Lyon, is launching that will be helpful in setting up a research portfolio, finding funding, writing grants and performing research.

        I look forward to continuing to connect with you in multiple ways and value your input as we are moving forward with shaping KSU Research with Relevance.

        — Karin

      • This week we welcomed our new Executive Director for Sponsored Projects, Rachel Kinney, to our office. She previously worked at Wake Forest Medical Center and is most recently coming from High Point University. Under her guidance, we are in the process of improving processes and procedures to streamline and improve our operations and support of research. Please help welcoming her to KSU. We are also in the process of making internal funding available in a few different ways that will support research projects. Please look out for more information on this shortly. This week, the sign-up for the "Brown Bag Breakfasts with the VPR" started. There will be eight breakfasts this semester. Be sure to sign up for one of them!

        Based on what I have heard so far during my "Listening Tour," we have drafted four very broad, overarching research focus areas. We will be publishing these shortly and asking for everyone's feedback as we are developing tracks and leadership for each one of these, based on KSU research expertise. More to come on this shortly, as well.

        — Karin

      • My "Listening Tour" is in full swing with the start of the semester. Meet with me 1:1, at one of the Brown-Bag Breakfasts or at department/college meetings to discuss the future of KSU Research. Or provide your anonymous feedback on our virtual platform. Based on what we have heard so far, we are starting to develop a sense for focus areas that may define KSU Research. These will clearly be centered on the integration of research into our educational mission and workforce development, as well as problem-solving for our region. Internally, we are continuing to make improvements to our processes.

        Rachel Kinney will be joining us on Monday as the new Executive Director for Sponsored Programs. With two other grant coordinators filling open positions in September, we will have a full team here to support you. Heather Abbott-Lyon, Interim Director for Research Development and Strategic Initiatives, is preparing a number of events and workshops, so be sure to check out our Calendar of Events, which will be updated as more information on the individual events becomes available.

        Today, the Research Deans will be visiting the Field Station to brainstorm on its continued use within a growing research portfolio. Along with this theme, a networking event on "Green Communities" will be held in November. I hope to see you at one of our events, workshops or in a 1:1 meeting soon.

        — Karin

      • Welcome to an exciting new year here at KSU! Whether it's the First-Year Scholars Program, the PI Academy or any of our other research support programs, be sure to explore and select the support that is right for you.

        On my end, I finished another busy week. The highlight of which was an invitation to be a panelist at the UIDP Innovation Ecosystems Workshop in Atlanta where the discussion centered on preparedness for some of the larger funding opportunities that are centered on innovation, such as the NSF Engines and the EDA Tech Hub programs.

        Closer to home, I am continuing my "Listening Tour" with 1:1 faculty meetings (feel free to sign up by emailing Heather Hedgepeth at and working on improving our research support structure. Moving forward, be sure to look for an announcement for the "Brown Bag Breakfast with the VPR," a bi-weekly, informal way to meet with me. We will also begin hosting workshops to plan the strategic direction for KSU Research. More information on how to sign up for these is coming soon.

        — Karin

      • As we are finishing up this "Leadership Week," we are focusing on how every unit in our institution can work together to reach our institutional goals. For research, this means that we will be or are reaching out to many other units across campus to determine how we can collaborate. 
        Closer to home, we have created a Calendar of Events that now highlights networking events, bringing together researchers on interdisciplinary themes. Be sure to sign up for any topic that might interest you.

        We are also looking into purchasing a software program to manage upcoming seed funding programs, as well as limited submissions. Look out for more information to come shortly.

        — Karin

      • This week is Leadership week at which strategy and new regulations are discussed. In the meantime, the Research Listening Tour continues. If you have input on strengths and challenges, thoughts on future research directions or would just like to meet me, please schedule a meeting with Heather Hedgepeth. If you prefer the anonymous, digital platform, it is accessible here. We will be starting "Breakfast with the VPR" sessions at the end of this month. Look out for information on how to sign up coming shortly. 

        — Karin

      • I started my week out with a meeting with CCSE leadership to discuss opportunities and challenges. A tour of the science building on the Kennesaw campus displayed the fabulous research space and resources we have available here. As I am listening to opinions on opportunities to grow KSU research, a few themes are emerging. Once everyone has had an opportunity to voice their thoughts, we will follow up with workshops to discuss these themes further. Some of these workshops are starting to be scheduled, with the first one being a discussion on our Field Station.

        Internally, we are working on a "Calendar of Events" to better inform all of you on programming offered through our office. Look out for more information coming out shortly. Mid-August I will begin "Brown Bag Lunches with the VPR," an opportunity to join me for lunch (bring/purchase your own) and discussions. Look out for more information on this topic, as well.

        — Karin

      • As I am continuing to meet with Deans and faculty, please remember that you can also leave your thoughts on research directions for KSU on our virtual platform.

        While I am currently primarily focused on obtaining information from internal stakeholders, and setting up our support team and infrastructure properly, I am starting to venture into potential external partnerships, which could be with corporations, healthcare providers, community members and/or other universities. Let me know your suggestions for potential partners! Lastly, if you are an active researcher, look out for an invitation for "Coffee with the VPR" to celebrate your research contribution.

        — Karin

      • Internally, I am pleased to announce that Rachel Kinney has accepted our offer to become KSU's new Executive Director for Sponsored Programs. Upon her arrival, we will full-force look into process improvements. We continue to search for a full-time Director for Research Development and Strategic Initiatives. If you should have an interest or know of anyone who does, please contact me.

        I am continuing to make my "rounds" to our colleges. On Monday, I had an opportunity to visit HatchBridge, our new business incubator. If you have not seen it yet, please visit. The space provides great opportunities for early start-up companies and support as they develop their business plans and pitches. Yesterday, I had an opportunity to visit the Field Station, which is a fabulous resource that I am hoping to build out strategically as one of our foundations to grow KSU research.

        — Karin

      • I started my listening tour and have been meeting with some of our deans, with whom I will continue to meet. We are all starting to receive feedback on our "Jamboards," which is our digital platform where suggestions on opportunities and challenges can be left anonymously. I hope to talk with many of you about the research opportunities that we have here at KSU soon.

        — Karin

      • As the new Vice President for Research, I would like to hear from our community what opportunities we should be pursuing and what challenges we should be addressing. While the beginning of the semester is still a few weeks away, we started a “listening tour” last week that will provide you with an opportunity to voice your opinion. You can schedule an in-person meeting, a visit to your department or leave your thoughts on a virtual platform. I look forward to hearing from you and will update progress on this blog.

        — Karin

    Research Focus Areas

    KSU Research will be an anchor to our region, equipping it with a skilled workforce and essential knowledge to cultivate a secure, sustainable environment and foster community well-being.


    Providing a dynamic infrastructure that addresses the requirements of expanding research and scholarship, fostering cross-disciplinary partnerships, engaging with external collaborators to advance our community.


    Click each box to provide input on KSU's strengths in tracks/research focus areas under that specific umbrella.

    Brown-Bag Breakfast with the VPR

    Listening Tour Timeline

    Listening Tour Timeline