Research at Nebraska 2019-2020 Report
Vice Chancellor Robert “Bob” Wilhelm

Problem Solvers, World Changers: We are Nebraska Research

2020 is leaving an indelible mark on history. The COVID-19 pandemic, growing political divisions, racial and other social tensions, and natural disasters have strained Americans’ sense of peace and well-being.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln scholars are meeting those challenges head on.

Nebraska’s COVID-19 response showcases researchers and community heroes whose efforts are potentially saving lives during a chaotic, evolving pandemic. Husker engineer Benjamin Terry and University of Nebraska Medical Center surgeon Keely Buesing leveraged a longtime partnership to develop a system that can increase hospitals’ ventilator capacity if shortages arise. The Food Processing Center at Nebraska Innovation Campus temporarily became a manufacturing site for hand sanitizer. These are only a couple of examples of how Nebraska is addressing the most serious public health threat in a century.

This report’s focus is Husker researchers and scholars who are problem solvers and world changers. Topics include understanding obesity and related diseases at the molecular level, improving nanomaterials, and growing and diversifying Nebraska’s STEM workforce.

Faculty startup companies demonstrate Huskers’ ingenuity and innovative spirit. Nebraska offers an exceptional undergraduate experience, exemplified by our student journalists who photographed the state’s devastating floods in 2019 and explored possible causes. Nebraska’s arts and humanities faculty are fostering appreciation for the state’s heritage through a “Discover the Great Plains” book series and an opera premiere.

Although COVID loomed large in 2020, Nebraska also embraced a journey of anti-racism and racial equity. As scholars, we must work to advance the conversation and develop solutions for our community. Nebraska Research is committed to leading this journey.

Today’s challenges will not slow our momentum. Nebraska’s research expenditures reached a record $317 million in fiscal year 2019. We aim to approach $450 million in expenditures by 2025.

Identifying grand challenges that Nebraska is uniquely positioned to solve is crucial to making an impact in the 21st century. The Office of Research and Economic Development, on behalf of Chancellor Ronnie Green, guided a faculty-led process to identify areas of expertise and shape priorities for the next five years. A new strategic plan provides a roadmap for developing research expertise; enriching creative activity; bolstering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; enhancing economic development; and much more.

I am proud of the excellent work of our faculty, staff , students and partners, and I am pleased to share our progress with you.

Robert “Bob” Wilhelm
Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development

N logo with the text In our grit, our glory