Jocelyn Bosley has joined the Office of Research and Economic Development as the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s first-ever research impact coordinator.
In this role, which she started Nov. 16, 2020, Bosley serves as the primary point of contact for coordinating research impacts. By facilitating partnerships, providing strategic advice, assisting with proposal development related to research impacts, evaluating research impact activities and more, she is focused on ensuring Nebraska research benefits society beyond the ivory tower.
“I’ve always been interested in science’s relationship with human values — why the research is worth doing,” Bosley said. “That might mean material applications, helping people better understand the world and our place in it, or creating a more inclusive scholarly community. I feel that if you’re doing the research, it better have some societal impacts. I hope to foster a culture that’s in alignment with that ideal.”
She joined the university in 2015 as the assistant director for education and outreach at the National Science Foundation-funded Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. In that role, she’s excelled at developing a wide range of engaging STEM opportunities for diverse audiences, forging strong connections with faculty and partners on and off campus. In Office of Research and Economic Development, she’ll build on that momentum by working with a broader range of departments, units and partners and developing institutional-level strategies for strengthening research impacts capacity.
“There was a huge groundswell of support behind moving Jocelyn to this new role because she already has the experience and has built the relationships with faculty,” said Nathan Meier, assistant vice chancellor for research. “Now she can continue doing her work at a more macro-level.”
Bosley’s work will position Nebraska to achieve multiple aims set forth in the N2025 Strategic Plan, a five-year plan that represents the first phase of Nebraska’s longer-term vision. The plan calls for Nebraska to establish a culture committed to increasing the impact of research and creative activity and to broaden its engagement in community, industry and global partnerships. It also calls for increased interdisciplinary research, creation of innovative student research experiences and research initiatives aimed at solving large-scale Grand Challenges. Bosley’s work will directly or tangentially advance progress toward these goals.
Her efforts will also propel the university toward achieving the goal of $450 million in annual research expenditures by 2025, another target in the strategic plan. Because federal agencies are increasingly interested in funding projects with a strong research impacts dimension, Husker grant applicants with robust plans for public impact will have a competitive edge.
Meier said Bosley’s position will further enhance Nebraska’s already strong commitment to outreach. As a land-grant institution, the university is charged with taking the knowledge gained through research and education and translating it for public good. Though many excellent programs and partners exist across campus, Meier sees an opportunity to amplify the university’s efforts through Bosley’s work.
“The pieces all exist, but what we’ve been lacking is someone sitting at the institutional level who can ‘direct traffic’ and help make connections that wouldn’t otherwise be made and achieve impacts collectively that faculty might struggle to do individually,” Meier said.
Bosley’s wealth of experience in public outreach and science communication equips her to play that role. In her MRSEC position, which she will continue through late 2021, she has organized the annual Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physical Sciences, co-founded Nebraska’s annual Science Slam and co-hosts the podcast Science! With Friends. She also curates the website Funsize Physics, which showcases condensed matter and materials research for the public.
In 2019, the American Association for the Advancement of Science named Bosley one of its inaugural IF/THEN Ambassadors, a group of 125 women innovators in STEM-related professions who are serving as high-profile role models for middle-school girls. She’s also a past National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and was honored in 2015 as a Raytheon Math Hero for excellence in mentoring K-12 students. Bosley holds degrees in mathematics and the history of science.
Bosley and Meier got a jumpstart in laying the groundwork for her ORED position when Nebraska — along with the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Idaho, Michigan State University and Purdue University — was selected for a pilot run of the Program to Enhance Organizational Research Impact Capacity, sponsored by the NSF-funded Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society. The goal of the yearlong program is to provide participating institutions with training, resources and mentorship to enhance their internal capacity to support research impacts efforts at the organizational level.
To test drive the program, ARIS selected five institutions with strong existing capacity for such initiatives. Bosley took part in weekly training sessions during fall 2020, through which she was able to assess Nebraska’s existing resources and learn about national trends related to research impacts, which she’ll apply as she launches her work in the Office of Research and Economic Development.
“I’m so excited about building on my experience in MRSEC and working with other departments toward on-the-ground implementation of broader impacts,” she said. “I’m especially looking forward to finding and forging new connections between people and programs, which is always exciting for me.”