Faculty input sought on 'grand challenge' research themes

'Grand challenge' research themes

  • Enabling healthy lives
  • Building sustainable human and natural ecosystems
  • Designing next-generation materials and manufacturing technologies
  • Creating data-driven science and information systems for societal challenges
  • Developing global citizens and our workforce

In collaboration with Iowa State’s colleges, the office of the vice president for research is developing broad themes to guide the university’s research portfolio. The research themes support goal two of the university’s 2017-22 strategic plan: Enhance Iowa State's research profile by conducting high-impact research that addresses grand challenges of the 21st century.

"These interdisciplinary research themes not only will guide our work on the strategic plan, but also will offer a way we can describe the breadth and value of Iowa State’s research portfolio to lawmakers, the public, campus partners and other stakeholders," said vice president for research Sarah Nusser.

Faculty input

Nusser has appointed a 15-member faculty advisory committee, with representation from each college, to spearhead the process of further developing a vision for each of the five research themes this semester. The committee will rely on several information-gathering tools:

  • A brief online survey in which faculty will provide information about their own research, future directions and challenges in their research areas, and potential connections to the five grand challenge themes. The survey will remain open through Feb. 8.
  • College-specific conversations, led by respective committee members, about future opportunities for cross-college interdisciplinary research within each of the five themes.
  • A university-wide discussion on the vision, to be scheduled later this semester.

"These efforts are part of our strategy to collaboratively develop a cross-institutional vision for Iowa State's research, and we very much look forward to faculty feedback about the grand challenge themes to help frame the vision. I urge faculty members to take a little time to offer their insights and ideas," Nusser said.

She said her office plans to release a forward-looking vision for each grand challenge theme to the campus community later this year.

Advisory committee members, by college

  • Agriculture and Life Sciences: Emily Heaton, agronomy; Dan Nettleton, statistics
  • Business: Scott Grawe, supply chain and information systems; Kevin Scheibe, supply chain and information systems
  • Design: Ross Adams, architecture; Ben Shirtcliff, landscape architecture
  • Engineering: Peter Collins, materials science and engineering; Sarah Ryan, industrial and manufacturing systems engineering; Michelle Soupir, agricultural and biosystems engineering
  • Human Sciences: Jennifer Margrett, human development and family studies; Eulanda Sanders, apparel, events and hospitality management
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences: Adam Barb, biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology; Leigh Phillips, psychology
  • Veterinary Medicine: Iddo Friedberg, veterinary microbiology and preventive medicine; Pat Halbur, veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine