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Latest round of Research Forward supports cross-campus collaborations and diversity

June 7, 2022 By Natasha Kassulke

Sixteen projects have been selected for funding in the second round of Research Forward, a program to stimulate innovative and groundbreaking research at UW–Madison that is collaborative, multidisciplinary and potentially transformative.

The winning projects were chosen from 96 proposals submitted by applicants across campus. They range from establishing a Microbial Natural Products Discovery Hub, to probing the origins of the universe, to examining the negative effects of poverty on adolescent academic success, to developing a new type of anti-tumor vaccine that can be used to treat cancer.

The Research Forward initiative is sponsored by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education and is supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which provides funding for one or two years, depending on the needs and scope of the project. Some of the projects that have been funded have the potential to fundamentally transform a field of study.

Steve Ackerman Photo: Jeff Miller

“Research Forward encourages collaboration among campus PIs, enhances PhD student and postdoc training, and strengthens our external grant funding requests,” says Steve Ackerman, vice chancellor for research and graduate education. “The projects we selected are truly forward-looking and use innovative approaches and tools such as state-of-the-art machine learning methods, 3D printing techniques and geostationary satellites.”

Amy Wendt, associate vice chancellor for research in the physical sciences, notes that project teams in Round 2 were also asked to submit diversity, equity and inclusion plans as part of their research proposals. Submitted DEI plans include gender and racial/ethnic diversity on project teams, recruiting graduate students and community research participants from underrepresented and underserved groups, and supporting diverse research backgrounds and cross-disciplinary teams.

Amy Wendt Photo: Bryce Richter

“Many of the project teams are diverse in their academic and demographic backgrounds,” Wendt says. “Some team members have a demonstrated record of prioritizing and advancing DEI, including through service work in their departments and academic fields. Having scientists and trainees with diverse backgrounds and life experiences working together brings different perspectives to the table as we address complex scientific problems. When we remove barriers to increased participation by members of underrepresented groups, we enhance public trust in our research.”

Subject matter experts reviewed each proposal to identify those that held the most promise for meeting the goals of the Research Forward initiative. Based on the reviews, divisional faculty subcommittees then made recommendations to OVCRGE.

Research projects and principal investigators:

See more details on the Round 2 projects.

Read about previous projects.