Initiatives approved for Year 1 funding support Iowa’s strategic priorities
Thursday, June 17, 2021

After a rigorous proposal and selection process, the University of Iowa has awarded seven interdisciplinary projects with more than $12 million in funding generated by the public-private partnership (P3) with its utility system.

The approved projects were selected through a two-stage process. Forty-five letters of intent were received in response to a campuswide call in February and 10 projects were invited by the university’s Strategy Team to submit full proposals. In May, the Strategy Team participated in a thorough vetting of the 10 proposals and selected seven that were recommended for funding.

Interim President John Keller approved the recommendation and the projects were put forward to the P3 board, which approved all seven at its June 1 meeting. Total funding for the seven projects is $12,128,313.

“Each of these projects not only will advance the university’s strategic plan, but represents a collaborative effort unlike any we have ever seen at Iowa,” says Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel. “Each project spans multiple colleges and units, and each project lead demonstrated a high level of dedication to ensuring their proposal would benefit as many parts of campus as possible.”

The approved projects are:

Extending Iowa’s Success in Space-Based Research Across Campus
Building on the UI’s success in space-based research, this project will draw on the expertise of faculty across multiple departments to create an interdisciplinary research enterprise, and will strengthen the institution’s ability to successfully compete for NASA funding for space missions and instruments. The project includes a space instrumentation summer program that will position the UI as the destination of choice for students interested in space research.

  • Approved funding: $3,595,237 over three years, led by Philip Kaaret, professor and department chair of physics and astronomy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

A Campuswide Learning at Iowa Framework to Increase Students’ Academic Success
Most students starting college have not received guidance on how to learn for success in collegiate settings. This program will develop and implement the Learning@Iowa framework to transform the culture of learning throughout campus, spanning a variety of academic courses, residence hall settings, academic advising sessions, and more. The project uses empirically proven learning methods from cognitive science that have been demonstrated to have positive effects on student learning and progress toward degree.

  • Approved funding: $900,000 over three years, led by Shaun Vecera, professor and Herman J. and Eileen S. Schmidt Chair of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

The Iowa Health Data Resource: Building the Future of Health Informatics at the University of Iowa
Analyzing patient data plays a central and critical role in advancing research across the broad spectrum of health care. This project will improve how the UI research community accesses and utilizes health science data by establishing the Iowa Health Data Resource (IHDR) on which future health informatics research initiatives can be built. This will position the UI as a national competitor for building interdisciplinary programs for next-generation research, curriculum, and student-engaged research development.

  • Approved funding: $2,220,441 over three years, led by Boyd Knosp, associate director for biomedical informatics operations and associate dean for information technology, Carver College of Medicine

Examining and Tailoring Academic Policies to Enhance Undergraduate Student Success and Equity
This project examines the impact of academic probation and course placement at the UI, with a goal of tailoring policies and practices to promote overall student success and to foster equity in student outcomes. Team members will collaborate with key campus stakeholders to implement changes at the collegiate level. The project is expected to positively impact undergraduate student retention and graduation rates.

  • Approved funding: $113,768 over two years, led by Nicholas Bowman, professor in the College of Education

Closing the Gap: Experiential Education for All Undergraduates at Iowa
Experiential education provides students with opportunities to apply learning to real-world contexts, while also fostering career preparation and improving job placement rates. This project seeks to close gaps in student participation by assessing the landscape of experiential education and barriers to student participation. The project also will create a course tailored for all second-year students that will provide an experiential education component and engage students in career exploration.

  • Approved funding: $540,000 over two years, led by Angi McKie, assistant provost and executive director of the Pomerantz Career Center

Seeding Excellence: Strengthening the University as a Destination for Research and Scholarship
This program aims to sustain growth of the research enterprise by providing competitive pilot funding in areas across campus that will strategically advance institutional priorities. By providing unique opportunities for faculty collaboration and support, the project should contribute to successful recruitment and retention of faculty in areas of distinction. Funding allocation will span interdisciplinary research grants; early career faculty research support; community-engaged scholarship funding; and diversity, equity, and inclusion funds to supplement research opportunities for students from historically underfunded groups.

  • Approved funding: $4,000,000 over two years, led by Aaron Kline, director of the Research Development Office in the Office of the Vice President for Research

Equity in Health Science and Practice
This project will engage faculty, staff, students, and community partners in the conduct of rigorous health equity research and the translation of research findings into community-based interventions. Expected outcomes include published interventional approaches for advancing health equity in the state of Iowa, including on-campus and community-based infrastructure for future pandemic-related and non-pandemic-related health equity research. 

  • Approved funding: $758,867 over three years, led by Martha Carvour, assistant professor of internal medicine, Carver College of Medicine