First, understand that the Southern Appalachian CESU is a virtual consortium of universities, research associations, and research labs that joined in agreement to provide research, technical assistance and education to the federal partners in the SA-CESU. The federal partners fund the projects. The SA-CESU itself does not fund projects.
While the concept of the SA-CESU is similar to other networks, one of the main objective of the SA-CESU is to simplify the bureaucratic contracting process that - under other agreements - has a tendency to stifle collaboration and discourage participation. The SA-CESU cooperative agreement is the easiest, fastest, and friendliest way to do business with the federal government.
How does someone find out about opportunities with the SA-CESU?
There are three good sources of information:
- This website. Check the News/Events section.
- The SA-CESU Director or the host contact person at the host university (see Non-Federal Partner Directory). The host university coordinates CESU meetings that also provide information about the CESU.
- The federal agency representatives for the SA-CESU (see Federal Partner Directory). The SA-CESU federal representatives can help by either establishing contacts with a federal unit, facilitating discussion, or relaying research needs.
And what if I have a good idea or solution to an agency problem?
Herein lies one of the most significant and innovative features of a Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit. Due to the results-oriented mission of the SA-CESU, a partner can now propose a solution, fill a research void, or supply training or technical assistance without waiting on a Request for Funding (RFP). By establishing solid relationships with SA-CESU federal agency partners, a productive researcher is now able to initiate change and "sell" a good idea if it can meet the resource demand of a federal agency.
The key to tapping into agency funding for SA-CESU projects is to become acquainted with the research needs of a federal agency. This cannot be overstated. Collaboration with a federal agency is the key. Each federal agency has sources of funding for CESU type projects. Before contacting a federal unit with your research idea, be aware that the federal unit will want to know how your idea will address their research needs before they will agree to collaborate with you. That is why it is imperative that you become acquainted with the research needs of a federal agency.
How does a person become involved in a SA-CESU project?
Partners can become more involved by becoming more visible and by actively communicating their interests.
- A good first step is a very detailed faculty webpage. It is very common for the Principal Investigators of SA-CESU projects to be located from a search of a partner website for specific research interests. Insert keywords and professional jargon into the webpage that will facilitate a "hit" from a search.
- Secondly, ensure that your research interests, skills and capabilities are submitted to the SA-CESU Expert Database.
- Third, contact the federal agency representatives and make them aware of your skills and abilities. Ask to be included on mailing lists of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) or related CESU information.
- Fourth, actively communicate interest by contacting agency resource managers and make them aware of your skills and abilities. Tell the resource manager that your organization is part of the SA-CESU.
- Lastly, remember it is not just what you know, but who you know and who knows you. Many projects begin when an agency representative or a resource manager recommends someone he or she knows. Effective networking is crucial!