In the winter of 2012, the office for Research, Innovation and Graduate Education (RIGE) convened a series of four brainstorming sessions, dubbed "the breakfast clubs," with a mix of junior, mid-level and eminent researchers from across the campus. In these sessions, some 100 faculty actively participated in a series of discussion exercises that were designed to identify strategic research themes that reflect our competitive advantage at the University of Oregon and serve as focal points of excellence. The themes were captured by staff and rewritten as descriptive paragraphs, which were reviewed by participants in the spring of 2012. The revised descriptions are found below.
In the fall of 2012, RIGE will hold an open session for the campus community to learn more about the themes, provide the office with more feedback and leave suggestions for projects and opportunities to pursue under those themes. On Oct. 29, 2012, Celebrate UO Research Day, lunch sessions devoted to delving deeper into the topics were held in the new Lewis Integrative Science Building. Faculty members strategized on how to bring together collaborative and cross-functional research teams to address questions embedded in each theme. Internal award programs sponsored by RIGE have been developed to provide financial support to faculty groups interested in moving forward on projects relevant to themes the faculty have identified. In fall 2012, RIGE will continue to hold conversations with faculty groups to refine the concepts and coalesce around relevant opportunities.
A sustainable future depends on redesigning the ways humans manage and steward natural and manufactured resources, grounded in a strong basic understanding of fundamental processes and in thoughtful application. Researchers at the University of Oregon are renowned for their "green" approaches to solving problems, from "re-engineering" the science, manufacturing, and business processes related to critical products; assessing and improving our human institutions to respond to environmental change; restructuring cities and transportation systems for improved livability; designing buildings and developing new advanced materials to reduce our energy footprint; and untangling the complex web of multi-directional impacts among humans, natural resources, ecosystems and built environments. Research across the university—from law and business, to natural and social sciences, planning, and architecture—is helping to establish Oregon as an intellectual and economic leader in fostering a sustainable future for our planet and its people.
Development is a complex process shaped by many influences at multiple levels, from the smallest molecular inputs to broad, systemic interactions within and between families, schools and social institutions. The University of Oregon has a long record of pioneering research that brings together developmental genetics, brain development, physiology, cognition and learning, education, family and community, and education into an integrated view of how both biology and the environment dynamically and interactively support multi-level healthy development. These efforts yield critical insights into a wide range of pressing social challenges affecting individuals, families, and social institutions. Science-based applications have resulted in effective prevention and intervention strategies, as well as changes in social policy. UO faculty are enhancing our fundamental understanding of the dynamic biological, psychological, and social processes that undergird development to improve the health and well-being of people throughout the world.
Changes in transportation, communication, economics, politics, and society have altered forever the way that people perceive and express their identities as individuals, as members of groups, and as communities. Integrating approaches from multiple academic perspectives, faculty at the University of Oregon lead research that explores the evolving meanings and expressions of language, identity, culture, attachment, and disconnection being generated in the context of the tremendous political, economic, and technological shifts taking place in the 21st century. Expanding cultural understandings of belonging, peace, conflict, justice, and community enhance our understanding of the nature of being human and assist us in navigating the changing borders and social relationships in our increasingly multicultural, interconnected world.
Understanding and solving today's challenges in the globally competitive context requires the development of new tools and entrepreneurial technologies. UO is renowned world over as the place where the basic science model for the cracking the genetic code of health and disease – zebrafish – was initiated. This proud tradition that couples cutting edge fundamental work with translational application has continued in other areas such as educational assessment, materials sciences, optics, language teaching, cultural preservation, genomics, design, high energy physics, business practice, digital humanities and arts. In these endeavors, researchers are elucidating basic mechanisms, are seeking to respond to complex questions, and are developing the technologies, tools and applications that yield solutions to tomorrow’s problems today. Translating these innovations beyond the walls of the university and engaging with external stakeholders provides a platform for the long-term economic growth of the state and nation.
The geography and history of Oregon and the industry, values and engagement of its citizens provides a unique context for our research, a laboratory for our ideas, and a canvas for reflecting and expressing our contributions. Research at the University of Oregon is embedded in the richness and diversity of Oregon, uniquely situated in location and across time. From the volcanoes that form the backbone of its beloved Cascade Mountains, to the unique plants and animals living along its rocky coastline, to the history, populations, languages, literature, and arts that determine its culture, the University of Oregon prizes and celebrates Oregon as a distinctive place. Fundamentally, the UO and Oregon are partners, working together to explore and preserve our state's diverse natural history and culture, promoting public discourse and resolving conflict, responding to a shifting demographic, and highlighting the impact of literature and the creative arts on our citizens.
Each year, the world produces and consumes enough information to fill a stack of books that stretches from the Earth to Neptune and back ten times over. This information is in the form of digital bits, capable of capturing information as diverse as visual media, atmospheric carbon measurements, consumer preferences, accelerated particles, voting patterns, and sound transmissions. Faculty at the University of Oregon are addressing how to productively manage, use and display this information to accelerate progress in computing, humanities, communications, marketing, physical and natural sciences, arts and education. This shifting information "ecosystem" impacts individuals and societies, resulting in new opportunities and innovations, as well as influencing ever-changing socio-political dynamics. Work in the field of capturing, accessing, and using data is critical both for capitalizing on new research opportunities and for advancing Oregon’s position within the emerging global economy.