The University of Nebraska–Lincoln selected 11 projects to fund through the Grand Challenges Catalyst Competition in 2023 for an investment of $10 million in the program’s second year. A total of $20 million has been granted so far through the four-year, $40 million initiative, a commitment by the Office of the Chancellor and the Office of Research and Economic Development to strategically invest funds earmarked for research.

The program’s aim is to invest in transformative, 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 seven Grand Challenges thematic areas are: 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. 

Catalyst award projects are bold and catalytic, representing significant new research, scholarly and creative activity that have potential to solve grand challenges critical to Nebraska and the world. A two-step external peer review process informed catalyst award project selection. The average amount of catalyst awards made in 2023 is $2,992,096.

Nearly 130 members of the university community are involved in the 2023 funded projects. The funded projects and principal investigators are as follows.

2023 Catalyst Awards

2023 Planning Grants

Planning grants were selected through an internal review process. Review panels were composed of volunteers that included current and emeriti faculty and staff. The average amount of a planning grant funded in 2023 is $128,112.

“The Grand Challenges are an opportunity to elevate high-priority research areas for the benefit of society and especially our communities, which is our responsibility as a land-grant institution.” 

Chancellor Rodney Bennett