Export Control Violations Lead to UT-Knoxville Prof's Conviction

by Tom Lombardo, Ph.D.

ORSP Director of Research Integrity and Compliance

According to the Associated Press, retired UT Knoxville professor and plasma physics expert J. Reece Roth was found guilty of export control law violations on Wednesday, September 3, 2008. He faces up to 160 years in prison and more than $1.5 million in fines.

The case is remarkable because it is the first conviction of a professor for not keeping sensitive technical information from foreign research assistants. Giving export controlled information to foreign nationals without first obtaining a license is illegal – unless the information falls under the “fundamental research exclusion.” Very little research at The University of Mississippi falls under export control (EC) laws, because either the information (or equipment) is not covered by the EC regulations or the research contract does not include restrictions on use of the data and the research can be considered “fundamental research” (defined below).

The Undersecretary of Defense very recently reaffirmed National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 189, “National Policy on the Transfer of Scientific, Technical, and Engineering Information.” Adopted in 1985, the policy makes clear that the products of “fundamental research” must go unrestricted. The Undersecretary stated in his June 26 memo sent to all agencies: “The Department of Defense fully supports free scientific exchanges and dissemination of research results to the maximum extent possible.”

In the Roth case, Patrick Rowan, U.S. acting assistant attorney general for national security, said “The illegal export of such sensitive data represents a very real threat to our national security, particularly when we know that foreign governments are actively seeking this information for their military development….This case should serve as a warning to anyone who knowingly discloses restricted U.S. military data to foreign nationals.”

Foreign nationals who are permanent residents (i.e., possess ‘green cards’) are equivalent to U.S. citizens under EC law: no restrictions apply.

Illustrating how ignorance of laws can lead to such severe punishment, Roth testified that he didn't believe he broke the law because the research had yet to produce anything tangible. He was very wrong.

According to NSDD 189:

“‘Fundamental research’ means basic and applied research in science and engineering, the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary or national security reasons.”

This means what is routinely taught in classes across the country and what is presented at conferences that are open to all professionals from all countries is not restricted. Most restrictions originate from research contracts. The ORSP carefully scrutinizes contracts for clauses that prevent applying the fundamental research exclusion and makes every attempt to get sponsors to remove them so that research data can flow freely – as it should.

There are other ways investigators can go astray of the EC laws besides sharing information with their foreign national students or postdocs here. Roth was also accused of taking sensitive technical information on his laptop for a lecture tour in China. Federal agents seized his computer at the airport upon his return. Laptops are unrestricted to most countries if you will bring them back and keep them under your control while abroad, but some data and all encrypted files and data encryption software are restricted. Also, presenting export controlled technical information that does not meet the fundamental research exclusion to other countries violates EC law.

If you are uncertain whether your research falls under EC laws, please review the Export Control pages on the ORSP website and/or contact Dr. Tom Lombardo, Director of Research Integrity and Compliance, at 662-915-5458 or pytwl@olemiss.edu .

UM Research Funding News

Proposal and Award Activity

UM faculty and staff submitted 30 external funding proposals and received 40 external funding awards during August 2008. For a complete listing, see the August 2008 Report page.

Faculty Travel Support

In August a total of $1,900 was awarded by the ORSP to help support research-related travel. Examples of research purposes for which faculty have recently received support include:

  • Travel to sabbatical research location for project on development of international research center
  • Conduct research on historical artifacts in museums overseas, plan new book project, and investigate funding opportunities
  • Attend short course/workshop to learn new methods for research analysis
  • Conduct manuscript research in archival library
  • Consult documents in a private library collection
  • Plan future exhibitions and conferences with collaborators while at conference

The Faculty Travel Support guidelines, application, and FAQ are found on the ORSP Internal Support page.

Speaking of COS

Search Wizard is a Real Time Saver

Are you familiar with the Search Wizard for COS Funding Opportunities? This tool guides you in setting up your Funding Opportunities search, with a five-step process that prompts you to fill out some of the most commonly used search fields. The Search Wizard offers the ease-of-use of the Simple Search, which is appealing to those unaccustomed to online databases. At the same time, it allows you to create a complex, targeted search that combines numerous criteria. Try out the Search Wizard to construct targeted searches without the detailed search form. You'll find a link to the Search Wizard to the right of the text box on the main COS Funding Opportunities page.

Bits & Pieces

Revised UM Transmittal Sheet Now in Use

The UM Transmittal Sheet for Sponsored Projects, the internal routing/approval form required for all external funding proposals, has been updated with expanded information and guidance on responding to its questions regarding financial conflict of interest. The updated form is now available on the ORSP's new website (see link above) and its use is required for all current and future proposals for external funding. Previous versions of the transmittal form should be discarded.

ORSP Unveils New Website Design

For much of this year ORSP staff have been working behind the scenes to re-create the ORSP website in a new visual configuration with improved functionality. Most of the original site's major sections have been carried over (with a few name updates) and are accessible via navigation buttons at the top of each page. The primary difference experienced users will notice is the menu tree down the left side of the screen. Each major section has its own menu tree, which allows the user to see all section contents and navigate quickly to the desired page. To change sections, click on one of the navigation buttons in the top banner. Other new features include:

  • an accumulating News column with an RSS feed
  • quick-link menus on the Welcome page (home page) targeting different types of users
  • a link at the bottom of each page to open a “printer-friendly” version
  • related downloadable forms gathered together with explanatory text
  • manuals and guides in a new easy-to-navigate web format with option to print pages

We hope users will be patient as we work out any unanticipated problems and fine-tune the site to serve campus needs — links are provided at the bottom of each menu to send suggestions and feedback.

A Few Program Announcements and Deadlines

Harvard University Grants for Public Health Research on Gambling Disorders

Deadline October 1

The Harvard University Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders seeks to support research in the social and behavioral sciences, epidemiology, public health and related fields that will lead to improved prevention and interventions for disordered gambling. Although the institute welcomes a wide variety of topics, applicants are encouraged to consider the following priority areas:

  1. Interventions for disordered gambling
  2. Prevention and responsible gaming practices
  3. Gambling among vulnerable and special needs populations
  4. The proximal determinants that can influence the transition from recreational to disordered gambling

Call for User Proposals: The Molecular Foundry

Deadline October 13

The Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a national nanoscience user facility, is accepting requests for no cost access to its instruments, techniques and skilled staff from scientists seeking to enhance their own research projects. The mission of the Molecular Foundry is to provide researchers from academic, government and industrial laboratories around the world access to instruments, materials, technical expertise and training in nanoscience. The Molecular Foundry hosts six facilities that focus on both “soft” (biological and polymeric) and “hard” (inorganic and microfabricated) nanostructured building blocks, and their integration into complex functional assemblies. The Molecular Foundry is a particularly valuable resource for users pursuing multidisciplinary research in nanoscience. Prospective users are welcome to contact Foundry staff members (see “Our Scientists” section of the Foundry web site) to discuss their proposal ideas, learn more about the specific Foundry capabilities of interest to them, and to insure that the Foundry has the appropriate facilities, equipment, and staff to perform the research required. For further information and a description of the proposal submission process, please visit “The User Program” section of the Foundry website.

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships

Multiple Deadlines November 3-7

The purpose of the GRFP is to ensure the vitality of the scientific and technological workforce in the United States and to reinforce its diversity. The program offers graduate fellowships to students in the early stages of their graduate study to support graduate study leading to research-based master's or doctoral degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) relevant to the mission of the NSF. Fellows are expected to become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering. These individuals will be crucial to maintaining and advancing the nation's technological infrastructure and national security as well as contributing to the economic well being of society at large. The GRFP is designed to provide opportunities for advanced education that prepares students for a broad range of disciplinary and cross-disciplinary careers through its strategic investments in intellectual capital. Application deadlines vary by field of study, beginning with Nov. 3, 2008.

National Endowment for the Humanities Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

Deadline November 13

The purpose of the Enduring Questions grant program is to encourage faculty and students at the undergraduate level to grapple with the most fundamental concerns of the humanities, and to join together in deep, sustained programs of reading in order to encounter influential thinkers over the centuries and into the present day. Enduring questions are, to an overarching degree, pre-disciplinary. They are questions to which no discipline or field or profession can lay an exclusive claim. They are questions that have more than one plausible or interesting answer. They have long held interest for young people, and they allow for a special, intense dialogue across generations. The Enduring Questions grant program will support new humanities courses at the undergraduate level: their design and preparation, teaching, and assessment, as well as ancillary activities that enhance faculty-student intellectual community. Courses may be taught by faculty from any department or discipline in the humanities or by faculty outside the humanities (e.g., astronomy, biology, economics, law, mathematics, medicine, psychology), provided humanities sources are central to the course.

Cattell Fund Fellowships for Psychologists

Deadline December 1

James McKeen Cattell Fund Fellowships for psychologists provide funds to supplement the regular sabbatical allowance provided by the recipients' home institutions. Candidates are eligible for a Cattell Award if they are currently tenured or will have formal university or college confirmation that they will be tenured by March 1, following the December 1 submission deadline. Candidates are eligible for a Cattell Award if they have not had a leave with pay for the five years preceding the requested sabbatical leave.

Newberry Library Long-Term Fellowships

Deadline January 12

The library’s collections are history and culture of the civilizations of Western Europe and the Americas from the Middle Ages through World War I. Long-term fellowships are available to post-doctoral scholars for periods of six to eleven months. These grants support individual research and promote serious intellectual exchange through active participation in the Library's scholarly activities, including a biweekly fellows' seminar. Applicants may combine these fellowship awards with sabbatical or other stipendiary support.

National Science Foundation Proactive Recruitment in Introductory Science and Mathematics (PRISM)

Deadline February 16

The goal of this program is to strengthen the nation's scientific competitiveness by increasing the numbers of well-prepared, successful U.S. undergraduate majors and minors in science and mathematics. The program will fund innovative, potentially transformational partnerships between the mathematical sciences and other science or engineering disciplines that widen the cross section of the mathematical sciences to which freshman and sophomore students are exposed and that provide these students increased opportunities for research experiences involving the mathematical sciences. The program aims to increase and enhance the mathematical and statistical content of degree plans across mathematics/statistics and science/engineering fields. Proposing institutions are expected to design programs that also attract greater numbers of students from underrepresented groups into mathematics, statistics, science, and engineering. This solicitation requires partnerships of a mathematical sciences department with at least one other discipline outside the mathematical sciences.

Additional Resources

Some Upcoming Events

Homeland Security Workshop for Minority Serving Institutions

October 2 in Houston (Texas Southern University)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of University Programs will present a technical assistance workshop aimed to provide information on ways in which faculty and students from Minority Serving Institutions can take advantage of the different programs and initiatives available through the DHS Science and Technology Directorate. These programs and initiatives are intended to provide funding for scholarships and fellowships, internships, and research for faculty and students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and social sciences. Additional workshop sessions are on October 30 in New York and November 13 in California. For more information about the workshops and registration, visit http://www.orau.gov/dhsmsiworkshop.

Hyperspectral Infrared Imager (HyspIRI) Science Workshop

October 21-23 in Monrovia CA

In its Decadal Survey Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond, the National Research Council of the National Academies recommended a satellite mission to produce global observations of multiple Earth surface attributes for a variety of terrestrial and aquatic studies, the management of terrestrial and coastal natural resources, and forecasting ecological changes and natural hazards. Currently known as HyspIRI, this mission is in the conceptual design phase at NASA.  NASA will convene a science community workshop on October 21-23, 2008, in Monrovia, CA to discuss and review a draft white paper containing the scientific rationale for the HyspIRI mission.  Workshop participants must register on the Internet at http://hyspiri.jpl.nasa.gov/ (no registration fee).

Coastal Research Symposium

October 28-29 in Biloxi

The Mississippi-Alabama Bays and Bayous Symposium will be held October 28-29 at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi, Mississippi. The symposium will provide a forum for the exchange of technical, yet practical, information among scientists, resource managers, elected officials, community leaders, marine industries, community-based organizations and individuals. This year, presentations at the symposium will focus on living marine resources, natural hazards resiliency and the ocean’s role in climate, community action and coastal stewardship, water quality and nutrient input, habitat management and restoration, and extension, outreach and education. People interested in presenting research, field experience or other information at the symposium should submit abstracts describing the content of their presentations to Bays and Bayous organizers. Abstracts for oral or poster presentations must be received by Aug. 1. For more information, including guidelines for submitting abstracts, go to http://masgc.org/baysandbayous/.

2008 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference

November 20-23 in Washington

The 2008 Meeting will feature talks by Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Charles Elachi, Inforex President Robert Boily, General Motors engineer Patrick Usoro and University of Oxford mathematician Mason Porter. Also featured is a one day mini-conference on Saturday, November 22 focusing on the critical issue of water. Peter H. Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, Andras Szollosi-Nagy, director of UNESCO’s Division of Water Sciences, and Peter Thum, founder of Ethos Water will participate in a special panel discussion. Student Research Conference events will be held on November 21-22. Undergraduate and graduate students will present research, participate in mentoring and networking activities, panel discussions, and other events. Complete meeting information is at http://www.sigmaxi.org/meetings/annual/index.shtml.

Global Venture Challenge 2009

March 25-27 at Oak Ridge

Global Venture Challenge 2009 is an educational event designed to foster entrepreneurial spirit by engaging students, industry, government and the investment community in the discovery and development of innovative ideas. The ultimate goal is to encourage students to launch new technology-based businesses that can improve the well-being of the world. Specific areas of interest include Bioenergy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energies. Global Venture Challenge 2009 builds on a successful event held at Oak Ridge for the last two years. Fifteen interdisciplinary graduate school teams from the U.S. and the United Kingdom presented business ideas and competed for a $25,000 cash prize. Additionally, investors met with start-up companies from across the southeastern U.S. The focus of this year's event is again on energy, one of the world's most critical issues. Graduate school teams from across the globe are being recruited to develop unique and innovative product ideas that can solve existing market needs and have the potential to become sustainable businesses. Another feature of the event is the Energy Venture Showcase which highlights selected start-up companies and gives them the opportunity to interact with industry and the investment community. For more information and to register, please visit http://www.globalventurechallenge.com after October 1, 2008.

2009 World Congress on Computer Science and Information Engineering (CSIE 2009)

March 31-April 2 in Los Angeles

CSIE 2009 intends to be a global forum for researchers and engineers to present and discuss recent advances and new techniques in computer science and information engineering. In addition to research papers, CSIE 2009 also seeks exhibitions of modern products and equipment for computer science and information engineering. Paper/Abstract Submission Deadline: September 30, 2008. For more information, visit http://world-research-institutes.org/conferences/CSIE/2009.

Congratulations from the VCRSP

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs oversees funding for research, service, and education projects. These activities complement the fundamental aspects of The University of Mississippi’s mission and are among its most tangible contributions to the future. Funding for these activities is one of the best measures of a university’s success in engaging with national and international communities.

All of us who have sought funding to test our ideas know that it is difficult and that the communities to which we belong are highly competitive. That spirit of competition is critical and it contributes more than a little to the relief and excitement a researcher feels on receiving a funding award.

Listed below are our colleagues who have been notified of external funding awards in the last calendar month. Please join me in congratulating them. The news of their discoveries and the importance of their contributions are part of all of our futures and the future of Ole Miss.

Alice M. Clark Signature

Alice M. Clark, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Research and Sponsored Programs

Summary of Awards Received in August 2008

PI Name PI Department/Unit Co-PI Name/s
Abadie, A. (2 awards) Center for the Study of Southern Culture
Agarwal, A. National Center for Natural Products Research
Avery, M. Medicinal Chemistry Cutler, S.
Banahan, B. Center for Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management Wilkin, N.
Pace, P.
Lobb, W.
Brewer, J. Biology
Burnham, T. Office of the Dean of Education
Buskes, G. Mathematics Cole, D.
Byrd, H. Pharmacy Practice
Cantu, J. Theatre Arts Angle, T.
Carpenter, B. National Center for Physical Acoustics Chambers, J.
Clark, A. National Center for Natural Products Research Agarwal, A.
Clark, A. Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
Cole, D. Office of the Chancellor
Cremaldi, L. Physics and Astronomy
Dasmahapatra, A. National Center for Natural Products Research Willett, K.
Ervin, E. Civil Engineering
Ferreira, D. Pharmacognosy
Gilbert, K. National Center for Physical Acoustics
Gilbert, K. (2 awards) National Center for Physical Acoustics Seiner, J.
Glisson, A. Electrical Engineering Daigle, J.
Elsherbeni, A.
Goggans, P.
Gross, A. (2 awards) Psychology
Highsmith, R. National Institute of Undersea Science Technology Slattery, M.
Lutken, C.
Johnson, J. Sociology and Anthropology
McConnell, G. Curriculum and Instruction
Metcalf, M. Office of the Provost Dyer, D.
Murthy, S. Pharmaceutics
Oakley, C. National Food Service Management Institute
Ross, L. (2 awards) Pharmacy Practice
Showalter, S. Mississippi Law Research Institute Wilkins, W.
Sukanek, P. Chemical Engineering
Waddell, D. Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management
Walker, L. National Center for Natural Products Research Khan, I.
Wells, B. Pharmacy Practice
Woolsey, R. Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute McGee, T.
Lutken, C.
Wu, W. National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering
Young, J. Psychology
  • August 2008 Report: Awards received and proposals submitted by The University of Mississippi in the previous month.
  • August Proposals Submitted: 30 from 24 Principal Investigators
  • August Awards Received: 40 totaling $13,664,697
  • 2009 Year-to-Date Number of Active Sponsored Projects: 329
  • 2009 Year-to-Date Number of Active Investigators: 184