Congressional staff from Washington, DC, visit Wayne State as part of the URC research tour

By Alyson Wrase

More than a dozen congressional staffers representing Michigan’s two U.S. Senate offices and seven U.S. House offices descended on Wayne State University this summer to take part in the University Research Corridor (URC) Congressional Research Tour.

Held this year from Aug. 14 to Aug. 17, the tour is hosted for Michigan’s federal congressional staff every two years by the three URC universities-- Wayne State University, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

The tour provides staffers an opportunity to see first-hand the quality of federally funded research being conducted at the three URC schools and to understand the relationship of this research to the participating institutions’ educational mission. The tour includes demonstrations and discussions with researchers and students on each campus and enables a dialogue about research funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and other federal agencies. The tour also illustrates how science and technology contribute to Michigan’s economic development and to solutions to the state’s most pressing challenges.

The WSU visit began with a reception and dinner at Jacob House, where the group was welcomed by President M. Roy Wilson, VP for Government and Community Affairs Patrick Lindsey, VP for Research Steve Lanier and various others from the university. 

The following day included a presentation and visit to Math Corps, the biggest highlight of the tour for the staffers and university attendees alike. Last year, Math Corps received a nearly $3-million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop and study the replication of its award-winning mathematics enrichment and mentoring program. 

After visiting Math Corps, the group visited several College of Engineering labs—the Mobile and Internet Systems (MIST) lab, the Computer-Assisted Robot-Enhanced Systems Laboratory (CARES) and the EcoCAR Hybrid Electric Vehicle Student Competition Team Garage. Funding for these labs has come from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U. S. Air Force, NASA and the Department of Energy.

Afterward, the group had lunch and an engaging discussion at TechTown with Associate Vice President for Economic Development Graig Donnelly and Managing Directors Regina Ann Campbell and Paul Riser. The group’s next stop was the Integrative Biosciences Center (IBio) where they were welcomed by VP for Research Steve Lanier, taken on a tour and visited the Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (CURES), which received a recent renewal of a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The day ended with a presentation and tour at the Perinatology Research Branch (PRB), the only branch of NIH outside of Bethesda, Md. Dr. Sonia Hassan provided the group with an overview of PRB as well as several other projects currently underway. 

Photo 1: Farshad Fotouhi, Dean of the College of Engineering welcomes tour participants to the college

Photo 2: Congressional staffers learn about the work of the Computer-Assisted Robot-Enhanced Systems (CARES) Lab 

Back to listing