Quarterly Message to the UO Research Community: Fall 2016

Since arriving here in August, I’ve begun formulating a vision for research and innovation at the University of Oregon, one that will greatly accelerate the progress of science and creative scholarship, increase the amount of external funding, and connect our achievements to the things that matter to people of Oregon and the Nation.
That vision was brought into sharp focus by the historic Oct. 18 announcement of a $500 million gift from Phil and Penny Knight to launch the creation of a new $1 billion science campus.
The Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact will attract some 30 new faculty members, 150 post-docs, 250 graduate students, and 150 undergraduates and increase research funding by an estimated $30 million annually. It will forever change the face of research and innovation on our campus and it’s exciting for me to think about the impact this gift will have on human health, the Oregon economy and society at large.
This gift will allow us to accelerate our discoveries into innovations and build upon the culture of collaboration that has existed here for decades. It will inspire us to fully realize our potential — both as a top-tier research university and as an incubator of innovation.
The UO has long been a major engine of entrepreneurship and economic growth, and the Knight Campus will further boost our economic impact, directly contributing $100 million to the Oregon economy and generating 1,300 jobs during peak construction. By the time it reaches full operation, the campus will be contributing an estimated $7 million in annual tax revenue, supporting 750 jobs and generating an $80 million economic impact statewide.
I will be co-hosting an information session about the Knight Campus with professor Patrick Phillips, acting executive director of the Knight Campus, and Scott Coltrane, provost and senior vice president. The session is geared toward students, faculty and staff. It takes place at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29 in the EMU Diamond Lake Room.
We have other good news on the research front to share. If you look at our monthly research awards reports, the number of awards for the first four months of FY 2017 are up — 157 new awards as compared to an average of 142 for the same time period in the preceding three years. Awarded funds for the first four months are at $46.6 million, as compared to an average of $41.8 for the preceding two years. These data show the renewed determination of our faculty to attract the funds to support their research.
Having just attended a reception for our new faculty at President Schill’s house, I have many reasons to be optimistic about our future. UO is only as strong as its faculty and I’m excited to have such an exceptional group of new faculty members joining us this year. Each of them bring a unique set of strengths to our research community and I look forward to working with them and all of our other faculty members to create a rich research environment that supports our collective pursuit of discovery, scholarship and creative expression.
As we enter a new era of research and innovation activity, I’d like to ask for your help in sharing with the public all of the great work that goes on here. Recently, UO biochemist Ken Prehoda was the featured presenter at a UO PubTalk in the Erb Memorial Union. He spoke before a packed house about evolution, the Knight Campus and his own research examining how a single-celled organism transitioned to complex, multicellular life forms — he even managed to work craft beer into the conversation! It was a great example of an outreach event that was fun, informative and well-attended — both by members of the public and the campus community. Many of our faculty have successfully led other science pub talks in Eugene-Springfield, and I hope we will see more of our researchers sharing their knowledge with new audiences.
Your accomplishments tell the story of research and innovation at the University of Oregon, and it’s increasingly important that we work together to highlight the vital research and scholarship happening on our campus. Here are some of the ways that our faculty can get involved:

  • Sign up for communications training workshops through the UO’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science Affiliate Program.

  • Volunteer to lead a pub talk or a Run with a Researcher event.

  • Write a newspaper op-ed or contribute an essay to The Conversation.

  • Contact our communications staff to highlight a work of published research, a research award or a public outreach program in which you are engaged.

For more information on any of these communications initiatives, contact our communications director, Lewis Taylor (6-2816). Even if you’re not a faculty member and just have a great research story to share, I encourage you to reach out to our communications team. By working together to tell our story, we can help accelerate the progress of science and raise our research profile to new heights.


David Conover
Vice President for Research and Innovation
(541) 346-2090