The National Institute for STEM Evaluation and Research (NISER), formerly part of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), a National Science Foundation-supported center, is now under the direction of the Office of Research and Engagement. NISER will be part of a larger initiative at ORE: the Evaluation Office for Learning and Visioning Excellence (eVOLve).
Headed by Pam Bishop, eVOLve will serve to advance UT’s quality improvement strategies using evaluation data to measure the effectiveness of these initiatives in research, scholarship, outreach, and engagement. The program will help campus leaders make data-informed decisions to enrich and elevate efficiency of their continuous quality improvement initiatives and internal investments, and to create a national reputation for excellence in institutional and program evaluation.
“Pam and her team have provided critical program evaluation that builds on NIMBioS’s interdisciplinary approach to science and education,” said Robert Nobles, interim vice chancellor for research. “We look forward to expanding the scope of NISER’s services to include all of UT campus through eVOLve.”
The need to accurately evaluate NIMBioS’s activities spurred Bishop and Louis Gross, Chancellor’s Professor and director of NIMBioS, to develop NISER in 2016. Bishop later expanded this idea to include evaluation projects for UT and external institutions supported by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Agriculture, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and others.
To date, NISER has conducted over 150 publicly posted evaluations for the over 130 working groups, workshops, and tutorials hosted by NIMBioS and brought over 9,000 visitors to UT from all 50 states and more than 55 countries.
“Having a program like NISER in is a unique product compared to other NSF-funded centers similar to NIMBioS,” said Bishop, who has served as the director of NISER since its creation. “Through the center, we have experienced several successes that have ultimately enhanced UT’s reputation as one of the nation’s leading universities in STEM-focused evaluation work.”
NISER’s strengths include STEM-focused evaluation and research design, human subject/IRB approval, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, report writing, evaluating educational programs, and developing and administering evaluations for grant-funded projects.
NISER has collaborated on more than 25 major projects to date, both within UT and with institutions across the country. eVOLve will expand the experience of NISER to support major units at UT in making data-based decisions for improvement and measuring progress toward stated goals.
NIMBioS, which began in 2008 after UT won the competition between leading universities, was the first major NSF-supported center-scale activity at UT, supported by awards of over $37M through a cooperative agreement with UT. The center has engaged more than 7,000 scientists and experts from more than 50 countries and supported more than 450 projects, leading to the publication of more than 900 peer-reviewed scientific articles in a variety of disciplines, from anthropology to zoology.