The University of Nebraska–Lincoln selected 13 projects to fund through the first Grand Challenges Catalyst Competition, with a total investment of $10 million.
The Office of the Chancellor and the Office of Research and Economic Development have committed up to $40 million over four years to invest in strategic, goal-based solutions that leverage Nebraska’s strengths and expertise to solve some of society’s greatest problems. The Grand Challenges initiative aligns with the university’s N2025 aims to increase the impact of research and creative activity, and to foster interdisciplinary endeavors.
The 2022 awards portfolio encompasses all seven thematic areas: anti-racism and racial equity; climate resilience; early childhood education and development; health equity; quantum science and engineering; science and technology literacy for society; and sustainable food and water security.
More than 180 members of the university community are involved in the funded projects, and all nine colleges are participating in at least one project. The funded projects and principal investigators are as follows.
2022 Catalyst Awards
- Katie Edwards, educational psychology, “Establishment and Evaluation of an Indigenous-led Center to Prevent Sexual Violence Among Indigenous Youth Across the U.S.,” $3,210,177.
- Tomas Helikar, biochemistry, “Digital Twin Innovation Lab,” $5,039,652. Nearly every industry that deals with complex data uses digital twin technology – a simulatable computer replica of a real-world system.
- Kees Uiterwaal, physics and astronomy, “Quantum Business, Arts and Science for Society (Q-BASS),” $629,692.
Funded catalyst award projects were selected with input provided through a rigorous external review process coordinated by The Implementation Group, a research development firm specializing in competitive proposal development and team science. The average amount of a catalyst award was $2,959,840.
2022 Planning Grants
- Tala Awada, School of Natural Resources, “A Nebraska Circular Agriculture Hub for the 21st Century.”
- Yufeng Ge and Santosh Pitla, biological systems engineering, “SPACE2: Space, Policy, Agriculture, Climate and Extreme Environment.”
- Mark Griep, chemistry, “Midwest Science Engagement Consortium.”
- David Harwood, earth and atmospheric sciences, “Ice Coring and Education Silo.”
- Jennifer Lather, architectural engineering, “Serving At-risk Communities in Disasters: Studying Planning and Response Measures under the Lens of Equity.”
- Liz Lorang, University Libraries, and Leen Kiat-Soh, School of Computing, “Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Cultural Heritage for Science and Technology Literacy and to Advance Anti-racist Information Systems.”
- Anne Schutte and Nicolas Hubbard, psychology, “Advancing Cutting-Edge Research and Practices to Increase Access and Use of Green Space and Outdoor Play in Early Childhood Settings.”
- Elizabeth VanWormer, School of Natural Resources, “Nebraska One Health: Building a Flexible Network Approach to Complex Systems Challenges that Matter for Human, Animal and Planetary Health.”
- Ana María Vélez Arango, entomology, “RISE with Insects (Resilience Ignited through Science and Ethics).”
- Sarah Zuckerman, educational administration; Trey Andrews, psychology and ethnic studies; and Virginia Chaidez and Megan Kelley, nutrition and health sciences, “Nebraska Community Action Research for Equity and Sustainability (NE CARES) Hub.”
Planning grants were selected through an internal review process. Review panels were composed of 18 volunteers that included current faculty, emeriti faculty, and additional staff. The average amount of a planning grant was $138,948.