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UNT Insider | May 2011 issue | New research clusters and strategic investment areas emphasize societal issues

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New research clusters and strategic investment areas emphasize societal issues

From a UNT News Service press release

UNT Research Clusters icon

UNT has expanded its research cluster program, adding four new clusters and two new areas of strategic investment. These six areas of emphasis were identified for their great potential to address social and economic problems affecting society, such as issues stemming from disasters and global conflicts.

Research clusters are part of UNT's long-term plan to bolster transformational, integrative and high-impact research, and address complex scientific, technological, environmental and societal problems through interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. The cluster program was launched in 2008 by the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Office of Research and Economic Development to advance research, strengthen the state's economy and develop technology vital to addressing today's most pressing needs. The primary thrust of the new clusters is to hire additional faculty researchers, many at the senior level, over the next three years.

"Recruiting high-caliber faculty and students and establishing innovative partnerships both within and outside the university are key strategies that will help UNT become a national research university," Warren Burggren, provost and vice president for academic affairs, says.

Vish Prasad, vice president for research and economic development, says the program has helped UNT to advance.

"This initiative already has attracted premier researchers and top students to UNT," Prasad says. "In designating these newest clusters, we wanted to focus on solving complex societal problems and broadening UNT's commitment to include diverse areas of expertise."

The addition of the four newest clusters will bring the total number of clusters to 15. The new clusters are:

  • Hazards and Disaster Research to Respond to Global Crises: This cluster will address the increasingly complex problem of hazards and disaster planning, with innovative approaches in response and recovery, both nationally and internationally. Researchers will study four broad research areas: evacuation planning, risk modeling and service delivery, tourism impacts and humanitarian logistics.
  • Human Security, Democracy, and Global Development: UNT has a strong reputation in peace science research -- the study of conflict resolution. Cluster researchers will leverage existing expertise to analyze conflict patterns around the world as they relate to authoritarianism and poverty and develop innovative peace building strategies based on economic development, political reform and predictive modeling.
  • Consumer Experiences in Digital Environments: Researchers in this area study digital information networks and the emerging trends and issues that affect social and economic sectors, with a focus on globally networked U.S. retail/merchandising and hospitality/tourism industries, two of the largest industries in the world.
  • Complex Logistics Systems: Formerly designated as a strategic area of investment, this endeavor has been advanced to the cluster level. The initiative will serve as a bridge between the academic community and businesses to advance the research and practice of marketing and logistics, with a focus on supply chain management -- dynamic business networks that map the production of products and services from origin to consumer -- in Texas, national and global markets.

UNT also has designated two areas for strategic investment based on their contributions and potential to expand:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • South Asian Media, Culture and Arts

These two new areas join four existing areas of investment:

  • STEM Research and Education
  • Forensic and Investigative Science and Technology
  • Advanced Bio-Sensor Technology
  • Computational Life Sciences and Complex Bio-Environmental Systems

The research clusters and areas of strategic investment support the expansion of scholarship and innovative research. A dozen highly accomplished faculty members have already joined UNT as part of building research clusters, and another 23 faculty searches are underway. By identifying existing areas of excellence and developing these assets through multi-disciplinary research exchange and an investment in new technologies and talent, UNT will continue to strengthen and grow its research infrastructure.

Visit the UNT research cluster website to learn more about the cluster program, including information on their projects and participants.

Alyssa Yancey with UNT News Service can be reached at Alyssa.Yancey@unt.edu.

Read other stories in this issue:

May 2011

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