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Bethany R. Johns, Ph.D.
Director, Research Policy

Ny'lyjah Cain
Senior Associate, STEM Education & Research Policy

COR Awards

Beginning in the summer of 2021, the APLU Council on Research (COR) is initiating a slate of annual awards.  For the inaugural year of the program, two awards have been selected. The COR Executive Committee is considering expanding this number in successive years, based on a broader slate recommended by the COR Awards and Recognitions Committee. 

The 2021 COR Awards are:

  • Research Response to a Community in Crisis Award to recognize a university that has demonstrated flexibility and responsiveness by rapidly and effectively applying the university’s research expertise to meet community needs in a time of crisis. 
  • Leave the Ladder Down Mentoring Award to recognize an individual who has played a key role in mentoring and preparing junior colleagues to themselves become research leaders, VPRs/VCRs, provosts, and/or presidents at research universities.

Awardees were recognized today during COR’s virtual Summer Meeting on Jul 1, 2021. Representatives from each award will also present at the 2021 APLU Annual Meeting. 


APLU's Council on Research Honors UC Davis & University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for Research Response to Community Response and Dr. Alicia Knoedler for Leave the Ladder Down Mentoring Award

Washington, DC – Recognizing extraordinary efforts to address challenges in their communities through research, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named the University of California, Davis and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign inaugural winners of the COR Research Response to a Community in Crisis Award

The APLU Council on Research (COR) created the new award to recognize universities that have demonstrated flexibility and responsiveness by rapidly and effectively applying the university’s research expertise to meet community needs in a time of crisis. COR convenes senior research officers on campuses around common issues they face in their roles.Nominees for the award had to demonstrate creativity, replicability, scalability, impact, and value to be eligible for the award. UC Davis and UIUC did such an outstanding job that COR selected them both. 

This year, COR also created the Leave the Ladder Down Mentoring Award recognizing an outstanding individual who has played a key role in mentoring and preparing junior colleagues to become research leaders such as vice presidents of research, vice chancellor of research, provosts or presidents at research universities. Dr. Alicia Knoedler, who was the Vice President for Research and Innovation at Miami University at the time of the award, was named the winner for her tireless efforts to mentor individuals and establish national leadership programs. Dr. Knoedler is now the Head of the Office of Integrative Activities and the National Science Foundation. 


Research Response to Community Crisis Award Winners 

UC Davis convened its faculty, students, and staff and the City of Davis for its Healthy Davis Together campaign. The joint project had a simple goal: preventing the spread of COVID-19 and facilitating a coordinated and gradual return to regular community activities, including reintegration of UC Davis students into the Davis community. The project uniquely integrated epidemiologic infectious disease control measures with health behavior change strategies and extended its reach to improve the health and wellbeing of the entire community, beyond the campus boundaries. Healthy Davis Together recognized the interconnected nature of university and city life, and used a holistic approach combining science, education and business strategies. 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers developed the SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell program. Faculty and staff from chemistry, physics, biology, epidemiology, microbiology, computer engineering, industrial engineering, data science, and medicine came together to develop the program around a novel saliva-to-RT-qPCR testing method. This interdisciplinary program combined the saliva test with sophisticated modeling and epidemiology, information technologies, and a keen understanding of the social and behavioral aspects of a campus community to enable a safe return to on-campus operations in Fall 2020 while keeping surrounding community members safe. The team partnered with the local public health district on protocols and processes for swift contact tracing. 


Leave the Ladder Down Mentoring Award 

Dr. Knoelder was nominated for her work with COR, where she was largely responsible for re-inventing COR workshops aimed at developing future and new vice presidents for research. Thanks to her leadership, the workshops became more interactive and focused on teaching and building an engaging community. Her efforts helped substantially increase participation among associate vice presidents of research (VPRs). Dr. Knoelder also championed and co-led the COR Leadership Fellows Program, which launched in 2018. The program helps prepare participants for senior research officer roles. In three cohorts, 23 professionals have gone through the program and at least three participants have gone on to become VPRs. 

“She is innovative, selfless, and making a true impact,” said Jason R. Carter, Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education at Montana State University in his recommendation letter. “I was in one of the inaugural classes of the COR fellow program in 2018, and that experience was instrumental in helping me in securing my current position.”