Sunday, February 5, 2023

University Expands Research Integrity and Compliance Efforts

By Gaye Swan

University of Mississippi

Marta Panickar. Submitted photo

The University of Mississippi has expanded and re-branded its Office of Research Integrity and Compliance to boost security and strengthen protections for university researchers and their projects.

The newly-named Office of Research, Integrity, Security and Compliance, or RISC, a division of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, also has created a new position of director of research security.

As an R1 Doctoral university, UM has a very high level of research activity and faces a correspondingly high level of federal scrutiny as well as attempts to misappropriate original research, said Mandy King, RISC director.

“The responsibility of security is not new to our department,” she said. “But the area is being enhanced and given a more appropriate standing within the department. The rebranding is our response to increased federal mandates in order to better support our researchers.”

To create a more robust security program, Marta Panickar joined the RISC team earlier this fall as the first-ever director of research security. With an aerospace engineering background and experience managing sponsored projects from the Department of Defense, Panickar will develop training and communication regarding research security requirements and procedures for the Ole Miss campus.

She will work within ORSP, providing direction, guidance and training to academic and administrative units across campus, as well as to researchers and students.

Besides overseeing existing regulations such as export compliance, controlled unclassified information and safeguarding controlled classified information, Panickar will help interpret, implement and manage compliance with upcoming federal rules and regulations related to Cybersecurity Maturation Model Certification, international programs and foreign collaborations.

“This position will play a critical role in keeping our research community abreast of new regulations and help implement systems that will keep us compliant and maximize our eligibility for federal programs,” said Josh Gladden, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. 

Panickar holds undergraduate degrees in applied mathematics and aerospace engineering and a master’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. She earned her Master of Business Administration from UM in 2014.

She worked for the Illinois Institute of Technology as a research and teaching assistant at the Fluid Dynamics Research Center and at the University of Akron/NASA Glen Research Center as a senior research associate before accepting a position at the UM National Center for Physical Acoustics.

“My work experience translates nicely to the work I will do with RISC,” Panickar said. “I have always worked in an environment that enforced export control rules and research security compliance regulations or policies.”

As she worked in secure environments, Panickar realized she enjoyed learning more about compliance regulations and why they are necessary.

“That was a major reason why I pursued an MBA degree, to help me become an effective intermediary between researchers and administrators,” she said. “I don’t want to just pass the rules down, but (to) explain to the researchers why compliance is so important to successful research completion. 

“I also want to be able to provide research personnel with the necessary tools to be compliant. We want to keep research secure until the researcher is ready to publish.”

Panickar said her job will focus on three areas: export control regulations, cybersecurity and international research collaborations.

“My top priority will be to bring awareness of ways to strengthen our security,” she said. “I want to communicate simple ways to protect research that have big results in terms of security, with minimal impact on a researcher’s day-to-day activities.”

For assistance with export or CUI requirements, international travel plans, hosting foreign visitors or scholars, shipping anything outside the U.S., or other related areas, contact Panickar at mbp@olemiss.edu or 662-915-8868.


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