N2025 aims to expand interdisciplinary work across university

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N2025 aims to expand interdisciplinary work across university

N2025 Conversations | Aim 3: Interdisciplinary Endeavors to Solve Critical Challenges

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is committed to building upon its strengths, developing and combining them to create interdisciplinary approaches that propel new ways of generating knowledge.

That desire to never rest on the university’s strengths is reflected in its N2025 strategic plan — specifically within “Aim Three” of the plan.

As the university enters the third year of its strategic plan, campus leaders recently gathered to discuss progress made toward the document’s six aims and related goals. Videos from the discussions are being released through April 25 with a weekly theme tied to each of the N2025 aims.

The N2025 strategic plan includes six aims. Each of the aims will be featured weekly through April 25.

The third discussion, available below and on the N2025 website, is focused on Aim Three, which calls for the university to “focus research, scholarship, creative activity and student experiences to foster innovative, interdisciplinary endeavors, and solve challenges critical to Nebraska and the world.” Three video stories highlighting interdisciplinary work related to this aim will be released April 6.

Per the N2025 plan, targets within Aim Three include:

  • Increase extramural funding, scholarship and creative activities generated by interdisciplinary teams by 15% annually on a three-year rolling average;

  • Align at least 50% of strategic research investments with the university’s Grand Challenge priorities;

  • Expand the number of U.S. patents issued by 70% and grow the number of licenses executed by 50%; and

  • Form seven research-based start-up companies annually, each based on university technologies.

The university’s most visible work on Aim Three has come in the launch of its Grand Challenges initiative — a thematic organization that identified seven areas to help focus and guide research and creative activity. The seven themes are: anti-racism and racial equity; climate resilience; early childhood education and development; health equity; quantum science and engineering; science and technology literacy for society; and sustainable food and water security.

In summer 2021, Chancellor Ronnie Green and Bob Wilhelm, vice chancellor for research and economic development, made a $40 million strategic investment and issued a call for teams to create proposals related to the grand challenges.

“We had 66 teams provide notice of intent to submit Grand Challenges proposals in 2022,” said Nathan Meier, assistant vice chancellor for research. “The teams are led by faculty of all ranks and types. And the projects include contributors from every college on our campus. We also anticipate meaningful integration of private sector partners in the proposed projects.”

Full proposals are due at the end of April and projects awarded funding will be announced.

Additional Aim Three progress outlined in the discussion includes:

  • Designation of a set of university-wide research centers that span two or more colleges;
  • Multiple cross-disciplinary efforts of the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts
  • Launch of a science and technology literacy for society focus in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications
  • Receiving a $20 million grant for an emergent quantum materials and technologies collaboration led by Christian Binek;
  • Nebraska Extension engaging in communities statewide and through summer internships led by current students;
  • Ongoing collaborations and discussions regarding equity and inclusion across all colleges, departments and units;
  • Creation of tracks within the University Honors program that offer interdisciplinary experiences;
  • Offering of the Changemaker program in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, which gives students a chance to pursue their big idea to impact Nebraska and the world; and
  • Expanding long-standing expertise in minority health disparities.

Learn more about progress in Aim Three of the N2025 strategic plan by watching the video discussion and reading more here.

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