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Research Cores Initiative helps replace equipment and enhance services

July 12, 2022 By Natasha Kassulke
A person pointing at the sheet music on a piano while the piano player watches and listens

Support for a project led by professor of piano Martha Fischer, center, in the second round of funding in the Research Core Revitalization Program will support new instruments for the Keyboard Arts Research Core. Photo: Althea Dotzour

Twelve projects, ranging from keyboard instruments and equipment needed to rescue and preserve deteriorating films to upgraded fluorescent microscopes for high resolution imaging of cells and their surfaces, have been chosen for funding through the second round of the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Research Core Revitalization Program (RCRP).

These projects were among 23 proposals submitted from four schools and colleges and three centers across campus.

Cores are unique spaces where researchers are exposed to new ideas, instrumentation and services, and where they can consult with technical experts to advance their research programs.

“Shared instruments, equipment and other resources play a critical role in the UW–Madison research enterprise and typically have a limited lifespan,” says Ryan Pingel, interim director of the Office of Research Cores. “Although essential and highly used, these critical resources also may not be eligible or competitive for federal and other external grant programs targeting new capabilities and technologies. The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education has sponsored the RCRP to help fill some of those funding gaps.”

The RCRP was launched in fall 2019 and was a highly successful competition. Seventeen projects across six schools and colleges were awarded funding in round one.

Cores are unique spaces where researchers can consult with technical experts. But the shared instruments, equipment and other resources they depend on have a limited lifespan.

“The great interest in and diverse responses to the RCRP demonstrates that our campus cores are indispensable for supporting collaborative and cutting-edge research. Although cores are common in the biological sciences, they are also critical to other disciplines, including the physical sciences, arts and humanities, and social sciences,” says Cynthia Czajkowkski, associate vice chancellor for research in the biological sciences. “We know that researchers across campus depend on our cores – in fact, some core facilities are not just useful, but essential – and reinvestment in these capabilities ensures continuity and productivity of our research enterprise.”

The RCRP is supported by an investment from the OVCRGE and with support from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Each award is in the range of up to $500,000 for direct costs.

To learn more about the projects (listed below) that have been chose in round two, visit

The funded projects and project leaders include:

Acquisition of Innovive Ventilated Racks for the Biomedical Research Model Services Rodent Breeding Core and Research Services
Rich Halberg, associate professor of medicine and oncology, and Jody Peter, director of research services for Biomedical Research Model Services 

Acquisition of nCounter MAX System for Multiplex In Situ Analysis of Nucleic Acids and Proteins for the Translational Research Initiatives in Pathology Laboratory
Andreas Friedl, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and Karla Esbona, scientist III and core facility manager for the TRIP Laboratory

AV Data Core Infrastructure Upgrade for Audiovisual Scanning and Preservation
Eric Hoyt, professor of communication arts and director of the AV Data Core, Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, and the Media History Digital Library, and Peter Sengstock, director of media services for the Department of Communication Arts

Next Generation MRI Acquisition at the Lane Neuroimaging Lab
Rasmus Birn, associate professor of psychiatry and medical physics, and Ned Kalin, professor of psychiatry

Replacement and Upgrade of Two Aging Instruments for Carbon and Nitrogen Quantification and Isotopic Analysis of Soil, Plant and Animal Materials for the Environmental Gas Flux, Biogeochemistry, and Stable Isotope Analytical and Teaching Laboratory
Zac Freedman, assistant professor of soil microbiology, and Thea Whitman, associate professor of soil science

Replacement and Upgrade for Workhorse GCMS in the Paul Bender Chemistry Instrument Center for Characterization of Small Molecule Synthesis Products and Side Products
John Berry, professor of chemistry, and Martha Vestling, director of mass spectrometry in chemistry

Replacement of the Social Science Computing Cooperative’s HPC Cluster with a Multi-purpose SLURM Cluster
Eric Grodsky, professor of sociology, and Andrew Arnold, director of the Social Science Computing Cooperative 

Replacement of Transmission Electron Microscopy Elemental Analysis Capability in the Nanoscale Imaging and Analysis Center
Paul Voyles, professor of materials science and engineering, and Jerry Hunter, director of the Wisconsin Centers for Nanoscale Technology

Replacement of Workhorse Musical Keyboard Instruments for Research and Performance for the Keyboard Arts Research Core
Martha Fischer, professor of piano

Revitalization of Workhorse Fluorescence Microscopes for High-Speed and High-Resolution Imaging for the UW–Madison Optical Imaging Core
Matthew Merrins, associate professor of medicine and scientific director of the UW–Madison Optical Imaging Core, and Lance Rodenkirch, managing director of the UW–Madison Optical Imaging Core

Updating Nanofabrication Lithography Support Systems for Improved Patterning to Facilitate Medical Device, Quantum Device and Nanomaterials Research for the Nanoscale Fabrication Center
Aviad Hai, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and Daniel Christensen, lab manager of the Nanoscale Fabrication Center

Waisman Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Models Core Confocal Renewal
John Svaren, professor of comparative biosciences, affiliate at the Waisman Center and director of the IDD Models Core, and Xinyu Zhao, professor of neuroscience, co-director of the IDD Models Core and director of the Rodent Models subcore