J.R. Dennison, Professor of Physics at Utah State University, leads a group of graduate and undergraduate students who test aerospace materials called the Materials Physics Group, now represented online in Utah State’s institutional repository, Digital Commons@USU. He is thrilled that having his group’s work in the IR has led to funding and contracts, created publishing opportunities, made them more connected to their peers, and made the research more easily discoverable. The Materials Physics Group showcases a wide variety of work including faculty publications, conference publications, theses and dissertations, posters, presentations, reports, senior theses and projects.
A big opportunity came along when Professor Dennison got a call from the president of a small business with a NASA/U.S. Air Force contract who urgently needed help with testing, and found the Materials Physics Group in a panicked search of the Web. “One hour [later] he was talking to me and that started our collaboration.” The business partnership continues to be a success. “Beyond the contract funds, this contract is exciting to me because it opened up a door for me into a new branch of work—commercial and practical application of my craft.”
Professor Dennison describes further important professional opportunities as well. “The students, both graduate and undergraduate, have benefited greatly from the group’s presence in their USU IR too. The commercial application work that we have all been doing together has been driving real material science…. My students are writing topical articles and getting published.”
Professor Dennison is quick to give credit to his liaison librarian, Betty Rozum, Associate Dean for Technical Services, for recognizing the value of organizing, sharing and preserving all of this valuable research in the IR. “Betty was the one who got me to imagine the benefits that might come from making my group’s work accessible online,” said Professor Dennison. His monthly readership reports from Digital Commons showed that “people were actually finding and noticing my work.” Having the group’s research widely available has made it possible for new colleagues from around the globe to find Professor Dennison through his work. A colleague in China who found the work in DigitalCommons@USU contacted him—“He had read my work and had detailed questions. It was nice to get that kind of feedback and to get a new contact, especially someone I knew by reputation.”
This robust collection of work has become the home for the Materials Physics Group online, offering significant professional benefits, and Professor Dennison couldn’t be more pleased.