KU has much to offer in assessing the condition of the planet and developing energy technology and social solutions to the problems we have created in a highly industrialized society. This may involve designing new communities and infrastructure that are supportive of aging populations while also designing new energy sources that are more sustainable and less impacting on our environment. This has to be done in balance, which is why it is important to bring scientists, engineers, social scientists, and faculty in the arts and humanities together in a collaborative environment.

Opportunities

  • Build upon KU’s strengths in climate change and environmental impact assessment research, as well as KU’s research on energy systems, power production, alternative fuels, ancillary biofuel products, and reducing the impacts of conventional fuels.
  • Focus on hiring experts in climate science, social and environmental science, and alternative power and transportation science, all with a focus on multidisciplinary research.
  • Make infrastructure investments for buildings that are interdisciplinary to break down barriers and foster innovation

 

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Current Activities Related to Theme:

Small Scale Field Test Demonstrating CO2 Sequestration

Lead investigators Lynn Watney and Jason Rush and a Kansas Geological Survey three-year CO2 sequestration project have received nearly $21.5 million in cooperative agreement funding from the Department of Energey’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, including a contract that has supported drilling and evaluation of the Cutter field well and two wells in the Wellington field.

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Effects of Low CO2

Research by Professor Joy Ward and doctoral researcher Laci Gerhart was published in a recent issue of the journal New Phytologist, one of the top journals in plant biology. Their increased understanding of how plant responses to low CO2 contributes to knowledge of how global change factors in the past may continue to influence plant responses.

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Measurement, Materials & Sustainable Environment Center

The $24.6 million, 47,000-square-foot M2SEC building, funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and private gifts, provides space for the Transportation Research Institute and other engineering and research groups to cooperate on developing projects in biofuels, remote sensing technologies, commercial avionics, and materials fracture and fatigue.

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Learned Engineering Expansion (LEEP) Phase II / High-Bay Structural Testing Facility

The $80 million, 140,000-square-foot project consists of two separate buildings. Through the University Engineering Expansion Act of 2011, the Kansas Department of Commerce is providing $35 million for the project. The remaining $45 million will be from a combination of donor gifts through KU Endowment, the KU Center for Research, and other university funds, including issuing bonds to finance construction and related costs.

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Tertiary Oil Recovery Program

The $1.5 million Tertiary Oil Recovery Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, works to evaluate the full potential of the oil recovery processes in Kansas. The feasibility of using carbon dioxide (CO2) injection for recovering between 250 million and 500 million additional barrels of oil from Kansas oilfields has been established in a study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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Feedstock to Tailpipe Initiative

Belinda Sturm, assistant professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, won a 2012 Excellence in Environmental Engineering Award from the Academy of Environmental Engineers for a project at the Lawrence Wastewater Treatment plant that utilizes algae to remove nitrogen and phosphorous from wastewater – while at the same time creating biomass that can be turned into fuel.

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Microbial Activity in Soil

Sharon Billings, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and her team are researching several possible mechanisms behind increased greenhouse-gas production from soil microbes.

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KU possesses strengths in research that spans pharmaceutical science and neurological studies, age-related health needs, speech and language, cancer therapies, and more. KU is well positioned to build upon these strengths and to increase the visibility and influence of the university while at the same time making a real difference in the lives of Kansans and people everywhere.

Opportunities

  • Develop functional interdisciplinary teams focused on health and well-being composed of current and new faculty, particularly new faculty affiliated with interdisciplinary centers and units.
  • Focus on supporting economic and entrepreneurial endeavors and broadening sources of multidisciplinary research funding.
  • Develop infrastructure to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration, including new tools for communication across traditional academic boundaries.

 

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Current Activities Related to Theme:

COBRE: Center for the Molecular Analysis of Disease Pathways

This $11 million, five-year NIH grant is led by Susan Lunte and co-investigators Blake Peterson, and Erik Lundquist. The grant will enable KU researchers to better understand the molecular basis of diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s.

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Investigate the Use of R-ketorolac Against Ovarian Cancer

This $370,000, two-year National Cancer Institute grant, awarded to Jennifer Golden in collaboration with the University of New Mexico Cancer Center, comes from the NCI Provocative Questions Project. The grant will be used to investigate the use of R-ketoralac – a component of an already approved anti-inflammatory drug – against ovarian cancer.

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Completed Biodiversity Institute Renovation

The $3.5 million renovation to Dyche Hall, funded by the National Science Foundation, state funds, and private gifts, modernized laboratories for research in a wide variety of biodiversity sciences involving plants and animals, genetics, anatomy, and forecasting the potential spread of diseases and harmful invasive species.

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Assessing Eligibility for Care Planning

Rosemary Chapin, professor, and director of the Office of Aging and Long Term Care at KU’s School of Social Welfare, and Lawrence Memorial Hospital are partnering on a peer-to-peer intervention program that matches an older adult volunteer peer supporter with an older adult LMH patient at high risk of rehospitalization. The goal is to reduce rehospitalization rates, emergency room utilization, and depression and improve quality of life.

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NIH Grant for HIV Vaccine Research

Heather Desaire, a professor of chemistry, has received a $1.38 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for research that will seek ways to improve the process of creating HIV vaccines.

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Food Utopias: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Ideal Food Systems

Paul Stock, assistant professor of sociology, was awarded a KU Commons Seed Grant for a new project, Food Utopias: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Ideal Food Systems. Collaborators include KU faculty members and social scientists from New Zealand, Colorado, and Illinois.

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Cytochrome P450 17A1 – Improved Treatments for Prostate and Breast Cancer

With a new NIH grant, Emily Scott and Jeff Aubé of the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence in Protein Structure and Function are researching the structure and function of Cytochrome P450 17A1, an enzyme that makes hormones that promote the growth of prostate and breast cancer. By defining the shape of this enzyme, the research will enable the design of more effective drugs to stop undesirable hormone production in cancer patients. Future work will be funded by a pilot project from the KU Cancer Center.

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KU strives to identify obstacles to human rights and development and to find sustainable solutions to these problems. Already, we are researching migration patterns to be better informed of the dynamics behind the development of civic communities. We are studying the economic, educational, social, public health, and developmental problems facing America’s children. We are focusing on ways to strengthen our cities and build stronger leaders.

Opportunities

  • Identify specific areas of current and future focus where KU can build upon existing strengths, including
    • Addressing Disparities and Promoting Social Justice
    • Building Communities and Opportunities Through Education
    • Building Health Communities
    • Migration and Changing Communities
  • Focus on hiring in clusters, particularly team-leading researchers with the leadership to pull together multiple disciplines within the areas of focus.
  • Create formal and informal opportunities for the emergence of a strong research community addressing issues of inequality and social justice.

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Current Activities Related to Theme:

School-wide Integrated Framework for Transformation (SWIFT) Center

A $24.5 million, five-year Life Span Institute project funded by the U.S. Department of Education will develop a national center to assist schools in implementing KU’s successful model for educating general and special education students together and improve school-wide academic outcomes.

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Advancing Research Collaboration in the Humanities: Hall Center

The $425,000 National Endowment for the Humanities challenge grant, to be matched by $1.275 million in private gifts, will fund two core programs intended to enhance collaborative, interdisciplinary research in the humanities.

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Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award Post-Doctoral Program

With $2.3 million in funds from the National Institutes of Health, the Institutional Research and Academic Career Development (IRACDA) Post-Doctoral Program is a collaboration between KU and Haskell Indian Nations University. The grant provides three years of support to fellows in various science research fields. The goals are to enhance research skills by providing mentored research experiences while developing teaching skills through assignments that promote the advancement of under-represented minorities.

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No More Deaths: Our View from the Border

Research in the area of borders and migration has suffered the loss of key mid-career faculty, most notably Tanya Golash-Boza, Jessica Vasquez, and, now, Yajaira Padilla. The Department of English, The Department of Spanish and Portuguese, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Latin American Studies sponsored a symposium on border violence and humanitarian aide on Feb 4, 2013

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Conference on Slavery and Human Trafficking

The Institute for Policy and Social Research held a two-day conference from January 31-February 1 on Slavery and Human Trafficking. Kevin Bales, an internationally known scholar and activist, visited campus for a major talk and met with students. The conference pulled together scholars and activists in an effort to explore our understanding and ways to confront this global and local plague.

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A connected human network thrives on technology that accelerates the creation and sharing of knowledge.  Harnessing the potential of information in a positive way promises to revolutionize how we live and enhance our civilization.

KU is dedicated to harnessing information in ways that will positively affect individuals’ health and well-being while also protecting their privacy and security. Today, KU research is helping create advances in digital technology, nanotechnology, infrastructure, and more.

Opportunities

  • KU should commit itself to a research computing infrastructure that is clearly defined and implements core support for research computing by building upon current strengths, including the Academic Computing Facility.
  • Focus on hiring faculty who are highly experienced in high-performance and scientific computing; handling and processing massive data; and scientific visualization.
  • Utilize technology as a paradigm to address urgent environmental, social, and economic challenges including cybersecurity, data access, climate change, and health and well-being.

 

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Current Activities Related to Theme:

Advanced Computing Facility

Researchers at the University of Kansas now have access to a new facility capable of supporting 24 times more high-performance computing power, thanks to completion of a two-year renovation and improvement project funded by a $4.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

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KU Libraries and IT Land Grant to Improve Region’s Research

The $48,480 planning grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services will enable KU Libraries and KU Information Technology to partner with the Greater Western Library Alliance and the Great Plains Network to explore the potential for a shared regional approach to managing research data.

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Deployment of Radar Instrument and Data Management Activities

The Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) has been funded for $1.2 million for the continuation of project Operation IceBridge (OIB), which will produce the largest-ever airborne survey of Earth’s polar regions.

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Development of Antenna Array and Ultra-Wideband Radar

A faculty member in aerospace engineering and his collaborators received a $1.7 million, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop enhanced radar capable of capturing higher-resolution images of polar ice sheets in a more thorough and efficient manner.

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Spencer Museum of Art: An Errant Line

The Spencer Museum of Art has commissioned internationally recognized artists Ann Hamilton and Cynthia Schira to create room-sized, site-specific installations in the Museum’s galleries, which opened March 2, 2013. Using digital technologies to explore the fundamental nature of cloth and the ways museums organize and maintain material legacies, Hamilton and Schira will consider the role of the hand and human practices that reveal and conceal.

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Spencer Museum of Art: Empire of Things

Empire of Things, the second thematic exhibition in Project Redefine, explores the relationships between objects, the people who make them, and the people who collect and display them. The objects assembled for this exhibition showcase the geographic diversity of the Spencer’s impressive collection while revealing patterns of acquisition underlying the history of the modern museum.

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C-CHANGE Colloquia

The Climate Change Humans and Nature in the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) colloquium series features a series of 11 colloquia combines themes from strategic initiative themes to examine how information can be harnessed about the environment, biodiversity, and energy.

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Biodiversity Informatics in Africa

The $426,873 grant will support the training of researchers in accessing, assembling, and analyzing enormous biodiversity datasets served by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and other organizations. The emerging field of biodiversity informatics is revolutionizing conservation efforts, public health, and agriculture in parts of the world.

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KU’s Strategic Initiative Themes

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Our four strategic initiative themes offer stellar opportunities to enhance our research excellence and visibility by addressing emerging and escalating grand challenges of crucial significance both for Kansas and globally. ​​complete archive of the development of each theme is available.

  • Thanks to substantial support from the state of Kansas, KU is seeking 12 new distinguished chaired faculty that we call Foundation Professors.
  • The Strategic Initiative Grant Program provides funding at various levels — ranging from seeding initial efforts to seek external support to established activities to realize a major increase in sustained external support. 
  • The University Cluster Hires program is designed to attract new faculty members to campus across multiple disciplines, oriented around a common research objective.​
  • Participants in the Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture Series will meet with the KU community and give a public lecture.
  • Many current faculty searches connect with a strategic initiative theme. 
Office of the Provost
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Several initiatives are furthering efforts to ensure KU offers a welcoming and supportive environment for all to learn, live, work, and discover.

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Why KU
  • One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
  • Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
  • 44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
    —U.S. News & World Report
  • Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
    —ALA
  • 23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times