Research process for professors


Hayley Hochstetler/Iowa State Daily

Elizabeth Stegemoller, recently hired in August, is already working on three different research studies involving how music therapy can help patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Mackensie Moore

ISU professors do more than just lecture their class, they are also researchers.

As a research institution, Iowa State looks for professors that are devoted to a specific line of research. When Elizabeth Stegemoller, assistant professor of kinesiology, was hired, that is exactly what they got.

After being hired in August, Stegemoller is already working on three different research studies. Her interests lie in how music therapy can help patients with Parkinson’s disease.

“One of my roles as department chair is to help recruit people,” said Philip Martin, professor and department chairman of kinesiology. “People who have the potential to be good teachers, good research scholars and good citizens to the department and the university.”

One of the first steps professors must take to begin research is to fill out an application to be approved by the Institutional Review Board.

Before the board sees the application, the department chairman must sign off on the application, checking to make sure all documentation is there. This is done in order to reduce the possibility of protocol getting delayed in the review process.

After getting the approval of the department chairman, the application is sent to the Institutional Review Board. This organization is made up of not just faculty members, but also community members who help determine if research ethics are being met.

Essentially the board is in place to protect participants. They determine if the risks are reasonable compared to the benefits and to make sure that the research is addressing a valuable question for the research community.

“It’s a sophisticated organization in order to cover the various types of research that go on on campus,” Martin said.

Stegemoller currently has two studies waiting for approval from the board. While this process can be time-consuming, there are other parts of the research process to be concerned with.

During this time, professors are simultaneously researching forms of funding for their projects. Funding can come from the federal government, the university or private corporations.

While Stegemoller’s third study is currently waiting on funding, her previous post-doctoral work has helped her understand the process and where to look for funding.

Iowa State has a start-up support system that is offered to new professors. This is used to make sure that they have the funds they need and to help jumpstart the professor’s research.

“We always try to help the professors; we don’t try to set them up for failure,” Martin said. “We want them to have a focus and then help them get off to a productive and quick start.”

After professors have approval and funding for their research, they can actively seek out participants for their study and then start their data collection.

As Stegemoller is in the final steps of her waiting process, she is waiting for the day when she can begin collecting data.

“It’s really exciting to be here, to be able to finally have the opportunity to do what I’ve always wanted to do,” Stegemoller said. “I get to do what I want to do and see what I can find, I want to start right now.”