University of Iowa VP for Research Martin Scholtz talks scholarship and service

Recently hired VP for Research Marty Scholtz seeks to promote undergraduate, multidisciplinary, and diverse research on campus.


Ryan Adams

J. Martin Scholtz of the Texas A&M University College of Medicine speaks during the VP for Research candidate forum on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Scholtz is the first candidate in the search.

Katie Ann McCarver, News Editor

Since stepping into the role of University of Iowa Vice President for Research in June, Marty Scholtz said the research and creative activities on campus have exceeded his expectations.

The recently hired UI leader told *The Daily Iowan* Thursday he is committed to showing people off-campus what UI faculty, staff, and students work on at the UI by communicating with collegiate leaders, hosting state lawmakers, and helping to secure funding.

“[What I] want is to do outreach to celebrate the successes of what our outstanding faculty and students do in the lab, and the studios, and in the field, [and] in the library — their scholarship research and creative activities,” Scholtz said.

Scholtz stressed that in order to accomplish these activities, the faculty must secure external support. The Office of the Vice President for Research functions to help them secure that funding while complying with state, federal, and campus regulations.

RELATED: UI names J. Martin Scholtz as new vice president for Research

Although the UI split apart the economic-development function that the Office of the Vice President for Research previously encompassed, Scholtz said it still works closely with UI Chief Innovation Officer Jon Darsee to protect intellectual property produced on campus.

Scholtz said faculty who propose ideas in basic research are acting as entrepreneurs in their own way. If there happens to be a product of this research to be commercialized, his office will guide them through protecting that intellectual property.

Through the efforts of faculty and external support, Scholtz said the UI accumulated a record-breaking $467 million in fiscal 2019 for research — which he emphasized doesn’t include the incoming $115 million grant from NASA, the greatest amount received in the institution’s history.

As state financial support remains flat or decreases, the office aims to gain more federal support, which Scholtz said is what really drives research and scholarship on campus. The Office of the Vice President for Research helps guide faculty to grants and write their proposals.

RELATED: Faculty attend first Vice President for Research forum

While money is important, Scholtz said, there’s more to research and scholarship.

“We also help to support that curiosity-based research,” Scholtz said. “The enthusiasm the faculty have for their scholarship is just contagious on this campus, and it is one of the things that really distinguishes a Research-1 university like the [UI] from other universities.”

UI faculty are “triple-threats,” because they are expected to be outstanding teachers, scholars, and public servants, Scholtz said. Classrooms are enriched if professors are leaders in their fields, he added.

A few months before Scholtz arrived, he said the Iowa Center for Research for Undergraduates merged into the Vice President for Research’s office. He wants to incentivize faculty to get students more involved in research, and is working with the center to handle the logistics of activities such as a faculty member’s summer program for students in the lab.

“The opportunities to do things outside of the classroom are what’s really going to define your university experience,” Scholtz said.

As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, Scholtz stated in his initial candidate forum for his current position that he values multidisciplinary research and its prevalence at the UI. Since beginning in the vice president for research role, Scholtz said he’s observed people in research-development groups, where people come together and cover research areas.

“People from all over campus will come together,” Scholtz said. “… One of the terrific things about the University of Iowa is, if we just bring people together, they start talking and right then the magic happens when you bring people together from different disciplines.”

In alignment with the UI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan, Scholtz also emphasized the importance of diverse teams, which he said provide for better answers.

“A diversity of opinion on how to approach a problem will always provide a better solution to that problem,” Scholtz said.