Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) is an organization in the United States devoted to the advancement of science, funding research projects in the physical sciences. Since 1912, Research Corporation for Science Advancement has identified trends in science and education, financing thousands of scientific research projects that have changed our world.
The Research Corporation was founded in 1912 by Frederick Gardner Cottrell, scientist, inventor, environmentalist and philanthropist, with initial funding derived from the profits from his patents on the electrostatic precipitator. Research Corporation was the second foundation established in the United States (Andrew Carnegie established the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 1906) and America's first foundation devoted solely to the advancement of science. For over 100 years, RCSA has catalyzed transformative research by funding top early-career teacher-scholars at America's colleges and universities.
RCSA seeks to identify and support ideas that could revolutionize and advance entire fields of study. At the same time, RCSA works to improve U.S. science education by advocating that faculty members enhance their teaching and contribution to society by remaining active in research and by involving undergraduates in their work. For many years the foundation has maintained that involving undergraduates in research develops critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, and intellectual independence, and promotes an innovation-oriented culture.
RCSA supports direct grants to academic scientists; conferences that leverage important scientific work that is already under way; advocacy with an emphasis on the research of early-career faculty; promulgating innovative ideas for scientific transformation; the integration of research and science teaching; interdisciplinary research; and building academic cultures that look toward tomorrow's scientific needs.
During the 1920s and 1930s, many scientists took out patents of their developments and assigned them to the Research Corporation in order to guarantee that any profits made from their work would be used for further scientific research (one notable example is Ernest O. Lawrence, who assigned his cyclotron patent to the company). The Research Corporation played a major role in the minds of many scientists of the period in formulating ideal policies about the role of intellectual property in science. It was one of the first foundations in the United States. In 1987, their invention-handing facilities became Research Corporation Technologies, a wholly independent company which handles technology transfer. It was also a major supporter of the research that led to the presentation of Interlingua in 1951.
The Cottrell Scholar Awards program (CSA) reinforces the growing awareness that teaching and research are complementary rather than wholly or partially exclusive. RCSA believes this convergence is essential for increasing the number of students who are attracted and retained in science.
Cottrell Scholar Awards are intended to:
The program provides $100,000 over three years to early-career faculty in chemistry, physics, astronomy, biochemistry and biophysics at major research universities. Cottrell Scholars are chosen not only for their high-quality research, but also for their dedication to the task of teaching undergraduates. There are currently more than 240 Scholars nationwide.
Each award recipient is required to attend at least two annual conferences during the three-year term of the award. These conferences are focused on providing opportunities to share teaching knowledge as well as mentoring from previous award recipients and nationally recognized experts on such topics as navigating career paths, and balancing research and education in the research university environment. Numerous Cottrell Scholars have found the knowledge and recognition the program provides to be major motivating factors in their efforts to push through reforms in undergraduate science curricula at their universities.
In 2011 RCSA did not make any regular Cottrell Scholar Awards; instead, foundation personnel and various Cottrell Scholars focused on revamping and reorienting the program to increase its effectiveness in the coming decade. At the 2011 conference, a new synergistic organization, the Cottrell Scholar Collaborative, was launched. The Collaborative's central goal is to act collectively to change the way undergraduate science education is taught at major American universities.
The Cottrell College Science Awards (CCSA) program, RCSA's oldest initiative, was created in the early 1970s to promote basic research as a vital component of undergraduate education at primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs). CCSA has supported the research work of more than 1,300 PUI faculty in more than 400 institutions, and has generated research opportunities for thousands of undergraduates at both public and private institutions. One of RCSA's important goals is to motivate students to pursue careers in research and to become the advanced scientific workforce America will need to remain prosperous and safe in the challenging decades to come.
The awards are intended to: • Strengthen teacher-scholars while supporting high-quality research at primarily undergraduate institutions; • Help early-career PUI faculty become competitive for federal funding; • Encourage faculty to conduct meaningful collaborative work with undergraduate researchers, and; • Enhance the research culture of science departments at public and private institutions in the U.S.
The CCSA Single-Investigator Award provides research support for early-career faculty with interests in the fields of chemistry, physics and astronomy and in closely related fields that overlap significantly with these three disciplines. RCSA also has a new initiative under the CCSA banner, the Multi-Investigator Awards, to encourage early-career faculty to establish in-house, interdisciplinary research collaborations. This was done to encourage PUI-based researchers to address the increasingly complex problems inherent in modern scientific inquiry.
Arizona Partners in Science, an RCSA program in conjunction with the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, provides summer research opportunities for high-school science teachers under the supervision of faculty members at Arizona universities.
The objective of this program is to provide Arizona high-school science teachers the opportunity to work on summer research projects in collaboration with individual science faculty at universities within the state. The main goals are to help improve grade 9-12 science education and increase the number of students who choose to pursue science careers.
Research Corporation for Science Advancement works with corporations, fellow foundations, and government offices and agencies, as well as educational institutions, across the country.
RCSA's long-standing emphasis on funding for early career scientists provides vital support at an absolutely key stage for innovation. Its continued commitment to science in the classroom supports not only the top faculty and teachers who receive funding, but also their many students. RCSA's network of award winners, including 14 living Nobel Laureates, encourages a culture of mentoring to sustain and build professional connections leading to new scientific collaborations and discoveries.
In order to increase the breadth of its influence, in 2010 Research Corporation established a Strategic Partnerships program charged with increasing its endowment and establishing collaborations with corporations, fellow foundations, government offices and agencies.
Robert N. Shelton, 2014–2017. Shelton became president of RCSA in March 2014. Previously he held top-level leadership positions in highly ranked public research universities and enjoyed a distinguished career as an experimental condensed-matter physicist focusing on novel materials and their properties. For five years, beginning in July 2006, he served as the 19th president of the University of Arizona, retiring to assume the position of executive director of the Arizona Sports Foundation before joining RCSA. He left the Research Corporation to take up a position as the President of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization.
James M. Gentile, 2005–2013. Gentile became president of Research Corporation in January 2005 after nearly 30 years at Hope College where he held an endowed chair in biology and served as Dean for the Natural Sciences. He has received numerous national and international awards over the years, including the Alexander Hollaender Research Excellence Award from the Environmental Mutagen Society and the Cancer Research Medallion from the National Cancer Institute of Japan. He is an AAAS Fellow. Originally from Chicago, Dr. Gentile earned his bachelor's degree from St. Mary's University of Minnesota and Master's and Doctoral degrees from Illinois State University. He spent two years in postdoctoral studies in the Department of Human Genetics at the Yale School of Medicine before accepting his position at Hope College.
Michael P. Doyle, 2002. Doyle is a chemist, educated at University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota and Iowa State University in Ames. He did postdoctoral work at University of Illinois, Chicago. He taught at University of Arizona in Tucson, Nankai University in Tianjin, Japan; Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas before joining RCSA as vice president in 1997. He has been Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at University of Maryland since 2003.
John P. Schaefer, 1982 -2004. Schaefer received his bachelor's degree in chemistry from the Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn, New York; his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Illinois, Urbana; and was a postdoctoral fellow at California Institute of Technology. He began his career as an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, before moving to the University of Arizona in 1960. He served on the University of Arizona faculty for 21 years in numerous capacities: head of the Department of Chemistry; dean of the College of Liberal Arts; and as president of the university from 1971-1982. He became president of Research Corporation in 1982. Dr. Schaefer is also a skilled photographer and is one of the founders of the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona.
James Stacy Coles, 1968-1982. Coles earned degrees from Mansfield State Teachers College and Columbia University. He taught chemistry at the College of the City University of New York and at Middlebury College, and was research supervisor at the Underwater Explosives Laboratory at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution during World War II. After the war, he taught chemistry and served as acting dean at Brown University. In 1952 Coles became president of Bowdoin College. In 1967 he became president of Research Corporation. He retired in 1982, but remained chairman of the Foundation's executive committee until 1984.
J. William Hinkley, 1957-1967. Trained as an electrical engineer at Yale, Hinkley worked for Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. from 1927 to 1943. After spending a year on the staff of the Radiation Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he became manager of the Research Construction Company, a division of Research Corporation which produced and tested pilot models of radar equipment developed at the Radiation Laboratory. Hinkley became director of Research Corporation's newly formed Patent Management Division in 1946, and became president of the Foundation in 1957. Hinkley died August 1967 while still president of the Foundation.
Joseph Warren Barker, 1946-1957. Barker graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1916. He became an officer in U.S. Army and served overseas before retiring in 1925 as a major. He became a professor of electrical engineering at MIT. At age 39, he became dean of the faculty of engineering at Columbia University. During World War II, when he was a special assistant to the secretary of the Navy, he received the Distinguished Civilian Service Award.
Howard Andrews Poillon, 1927-1945. Poillon studied for a year at Columbia University School of Mines, then prospected in Alaska for 10 years where he was a mucker in the gold mines. In 1910, he became manager of the Vanadium Mines in Cutter, New Mexico and later formed his own firm of consulting engineers for mining. In 1920, he became a director of Research Corporation; in 1927 he became president, a post he held until 1945.
Arthur A. Hamerschlag, 1922-1927. Hamerschlag worked in engineering for the U.S. government in Cuba and Mexico from 1888 to 1892. From 1903 until 1921, he was the first president of Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), and was one of the "select group" of Carnegie's friends who were bequeathed a lifetime annuity upon Carnegie's death. Hamerschlag became president of Research Corporation in 1922, a position he held until his death in 1927.
Elon Huntington Hooker, 1915-1922. From 1912 to 1915, Research Corporation was run by its Board of Directors. The first president, Hooker, was appointed in 1915. He received his undergraduate education at University of Rochester and his Ph.D. from Cornell University. He was a chemist, hydrodynamic engineer, and founder of Hooker Electrochemical Company, one of the first electrochemical plants in the U.S. at Niagara Falls, N.Y. Hooker was a friend and associate of Teddy Roosevelt and was among those called to Roosevelt's bedside while Roosevelt was dying in 1919.
Research Corporation for Science Advancement has funded the early work of 40 scientists who have received Nobel Prizes.