Yale has made more than $4 million in new investments in core facilities supporting science and engineering research, and also filled two new staff positions to provide additional coordination and support to the cores.
Peter Schiffer, vice provost for research and the Frederick W. Beinecke Professor of Applied Physics, announced the hires last week while updating the Yale community on efforts to support core research facilities on campus that provide access to shared instrumentation.
“Core facilities play a critical role for innovation and interdisciplinary science across the university and are a key component in supporting research and education,” Schiffer said.
Core facilities were identified as a priority by the University Science Strategy Committee (USSC) in 2018. In addition to their role in research, core facilities also play an increasingly prominent role in recruitment and retention of faculty, the review of research proposals, and the university’s educational mission.
In December 2018, the Office of the Provost issued a call for internal proposals to help prioritize investments to upgrade and improve equipment in Yale core facilities. There were 60 applications from 39 core facilities across the university, of which 16 were selected for funding.
The restructuring of facilities activities across the university, also as recommended by the USSC report, includes the hiring of two new directors of research cores who will provide leadership and coordination for core facilities at Yale.
Janie Merkel has been named director of research cores within the School of Medicine and started in her new position Sept. 23. Merkel has an A.B. in biophysical chemistry from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. in molecular biophysics & biochemistry from Yale. She was a postdoctoral fellow with the microbial sequencing team at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR).
Most recently, Merkel has been the director of the Center for Molecular Discovery on Yale’s West Campus. In her new role, she will work closely with each core facility director and staff to help strengthen and improve core research services at the School of Medicine and enhance core facilities broadly.
Ben Myers has been hired as director of research cores under the Provost’s Office and will start his new position on Nov. 1. Myers is currently the director of operations for SHyNE Resource, a Northwestern University site that is a joint initiative of the National Science Foundation and the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure. Myers works with external users and coordinates their activities within SHyNE’s characterization and fabrication core facilities.
Myers received his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Northwestern and holds a B.S. in materials science and engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
At Yale, Myers will work closely with core facility directors on the central campus and help to strengthen and improve research services.
Together, Merkel and Myers will endeavor to integrate and enhance core facilities across Yale’s campuses, improving access and capacity, and allowing future efforts at higher levels of coordination among the cores.
“Continued reinvestment in our research core facilities is important to maintaining Yale’s current research excellence,” said Charles Ahn, the John C. Malone Professor of Applied Physics, faculty director of the university cleanroom and Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering, and chair of the Department of Applied Physics. “It will also be a key driver to move the university forward on the leading edge of exciting new research fields, as outlined in its ambitious University Science Strategy Committee report.”