Virginia Tech®home

When is research like Jeopardy?

screenshot of zoom call

We all know the Jeopardy game show, where the contestants are provided a brief answer and have to respond with the right question. It seems like it would be easy but….maybe it’s not! In our recent CAIA Projects with Partners event, two interdisciplinary research teams were challenged with questions that we, as researchers, often don’t tackle….or maybe we don’t even know to ask! Most importantly, the questions came from stakeholders who want to know the answers and want to be engaged. The questions drove home the importance of talking with stakeholders early in the proposal development and as we, the researchers, are developing and implementing the preliminary data stage in preparation for the proposal. The questions were insightful, challenging, and technical in ways that expanded the view of the projects. The questions also challenged the teams to look at how they would explore the answers – what other partners might be needed? How would we find that information? When should this action be initiated? These two teams now have the chance to frame their current seed grant research and showcase the interest and evidence from stakeholders to position their next proposal for success.

The external audience also learned from the researcher teams and expressed motivation for future engagement with CAIA and these faculty research teams. For example, Mr. Blaine Lafin, farm manager at Skyline Meadows Farm in Fairfield, VA, writes:

‘From a Farm Manager’s perspective, Alejandro’s team has a very interesting take on how to try to take preventative measures in order to reduce the risk of pest control in crops. I’m very interested to see what results will come from this research study.’

Mr. James Mershon, from C5BDI, a strategic planning and development firm focused on disruptive innovation, shared:

‘Our eyes were certainly opened today to the impacts and outcomes pursuant to mitigating grape downy mildew and red-headed flea beetle intrusion – we are definitely more situationally aware – and of the poignant efforts by you, Dr. Nita (Mizuho) #GoBuckeyes, Dr. Seyyedhasani (Hasan), Dr. Shafian (Sanaz), Dr. Del Pozo (Alejandro), et. Al. to advance the Ag ecosystem – incredible all that is ongoing concurrently throughout the Commonwealth!’

Dr. Tracy Woods, from Microsoft, shared funding opportunities through Microsoft:

‘Such impressive work by both teams! We would love to talk with you further about your research and potentially bringing into the Azure cloud. We’re doing similar work at other institutions! We also are accepting applications currently for our AI for Earth Grants: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ai/ai-for-earth-grants

Mr. Chris Brown Jr, from Lancaster Farms, wrote:

 ‘It is my firm belief that research all too often gets over complicated and loses sight of its simplistic practicality, so I love the fact that you all are asking for industry input.’

Mr. Roy Flanagan, Ag and Natural Resources Extension Agent, endorsed the importance of the research and offered :

‘If the professors could prove the worthiness of these practices, I am sure there would be support (ag business council, farm bureau etc. to lobby legislature) to add sensors for reduction of water usage or pesticide use reduction into the tax credit for precision ag, I know a tax credit is not as attractive as grants.  If already proven then we just need to mount an effort  https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title58.1/chapter3/section58.1-337/’

Our own CAIA Affiliate Faculty member, Chreston Miller, a computer scientist and machine learning expert at Newman Library, shared:

‘I liked hearing about the funded projects to know what research is going on by CAIA faculty. It is a great way to identify common interests and potential future collaborators. Especially since these projects were funded, it helps others see what kind of research the funding entities are interested in.’

We hope you will join us for the next CAIA Projects with Partners event on November 16, 2021, 1:00-2:30. Perhaps you will learn the right questions!