• May 6, 2015

Iowa State Daily

Faculty does more than students appreciate

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Posted: Monday, December 17, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 12:17 am, Thu Dec 20, 2012.

ISU faculty members perform many more tasks than the obvious class time. Faculty members are constantly busy with research and service work in addition to the time spent in class and preparing for each lecture.

For Ann Smiley-Oyen, associate professor of kinesiology, classroom work is just the tip of the iceberg.

“The majority of students go through the university and graduate, and all they know of what we do is stand in front of the classroom and teach,” Smiley-Oyen said. “We juggle a lot.”

The average time spent on each area of a faculty member’s schedule is 40 percent teaching, 40 percent research, and 20 percent service, although this differs between departments.

“That 40 percent of teaching is usually divided into four classes,” said Smiley-Oyen. “But some people do 30 percent teaching so they can do 50 percent research. You’re always trading off.”

According to Smiley-Oyen, there are numerous, long, phases to research effort. These include designing the process, planning such as collecting software and assigning tasks, etc., recruiting test subjects, testing, analysis, writing the manuscript and then rewriting the manuscript until it is accepted.

“This could easily take three or four years from the point of inception to the point of publication,” Smiley-Oyen said.

To conduct this research, professors need to constantly search for funding. Waiting for federal grants can sometimes take up to six months, Smiley-Oyen said.

Funding the research is just as, if not more, stressful than actually performing experiments, Smiley-Oyen said. Oftentimes, the first grant proposal submission is turned down and given feedback for revision.

Students have often told Smiley-Oyen, “I had no idea how involved it is to conduct research and write everything up.”

Dale Chimenti, professor of aerospace engineering, takes research as an opportunity to teach. For Chimenti, students conduct most of his research.

“Being at Iowa State is challenging, but you want to spend as little possible time on research. How you do that is recruiting only the best students,” Chimenti said. “My students are in top line positions. They do the research for me. That’s the idea.”

Chimenti believes that students and teaching should be the main focus. By introducing lab work as students, it prepares them better for the real world, he said. His students have helped him publish numerous journals and papers, and he has a nearly 400-page book full of their works.

Chimenti was able to mention numerous students by name and boast on their outstanding accomplishments.

“Hire very, very talented people and then get them to work hard for you, neither of which is easy to do. At a university like Iowa State, you have to be selective,” Chimenti said. “I try to do identify the students and invite them to work in my laboratory and get to know them much better.”

Preparing for class occupies much of faculty members' time, as well. Chimenti went as far as to write an additional 12 to 15 chapters because he wanted to make sure the areas were taught effectively, he said.

Smiley-Oyen often does not even use a textbook, but teaches based off of research findings and other professionals' journals.

Faculty members do not have the luxury of a 9-to-5 job and often put in 50 to 80 hours per week, depending on the field.

“I always bring work home with me,” Smiley-Oyen said. “We work into the night. I was here from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday working on a grant proposal.”

Even though the pressures of research, service and tenure requirements constantly loom, ISU faculty are extremely passionate about what they do, Chimenti said.

“Academic reputation is kind of like an oak tree,” Chimenti said. “It takes 200 years to grow, so you better plant the seed now.”

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