New Signature Research Areas Announced

29 January 2019 - The University of Arkansas has identified three signature research areas that distinguish the U of A from other institutions and inspire collaborative research with partners across the campus, state and nation.

The signature areas:

  • Harnessing the Data Revolution
  • Enriching Human Health and Community Vibrancy
  • Promoting a Resilient and Sustainable Future

They encompass a broad range of research topics across the U of A campus, from traditional STEM fields to supply chain management to arts and humanities.

“These signature research areas will provide a platform to inspire new collaborations and highlight the role of research and discoveries at the U of A in a way that distinguishes us from other institutions at the national and international level,” said  Jim Coleman, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “The signature areas will also facilitate the development of a critical mass of researchers in these areas to create synergies and build competitiveness for large, collaborative grants and contracts.”

The signature areas were established through a campuswide, 18-member committee representing all colleges and schools. The committee examined research trends and trajectories over the last 10 years, and its recommendations were synthesized and integrated into three signature areas that create a unified research identity for the U of A.

“Identifying signature research areas is an integral part of the U of A’s strategic planning process,” said Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz. “These three themes are designed to facilitate collaborative and interdisciplinary research across campus, in order to advance basic science and cutting-edge technology, build a better world and improve lives in Arkansas and beyond.”

To promote these signature research areas, the U of A plans to allocate new resources for convergence research, which incorporates intellectual integration across multiple disciplines, as well as public-private partnerships.

“The new investments the university makes in these signature research areas could be a game changer that further propels U of A research in the coming decade,” said Daniel Sui, vice chancellor for research and innovation.

The Office of Research and Innovation will be primarily responsible for promoting the signature areas by providing new opportunities to U of A researchers. In addition to new faculty hires in these areas, internal seed grant opportunities and interdisciplinary workshops and symposiums are being planned on campus. The U of A is also planning to launch the Chancellor’s Signature Area Lecture Series in the fall semester of 2019, which will bring nationally and internationally renowned experts to campus to speak on topics related to each area.

Research expenditures totaled more than $175 million in fiscal year 2018, the highest in the university’s history, and the U of A once again received the rating of “Doctoral University: Very High Research Activity” from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Sui explained that the establishment of signature research areas will serve as a new catalyst to further increase the university’s research enterprise in the years to come.

For more information go to the Signature Research Areas web page.