As part of our effort to make information about internal research seed funds more accessible, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research has recently created a new campus funding webpage. Our hope is that bringing these resources together in one place and publicizing the opportunities for pilot funding will encourage faculty members to investigate the diverse funding opportunities we have at Illinois.
Streamlining this information should allow our researchers to spend more time performing their scholarship and research interests and less time searching for funding. Ground-breaking discovery is only possible if the projects have the funding they need. We want to provide the resources for faculty to succeed whenever we can. And when funding is in place, it’s amazing to see what the possibilities can be. A wonderful example of this is illustrated in the first round of funding for three interdisciplinary research projects at our new Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE).
Safe water is one of the biggest problems plaguing emerging countries, resulting in more than 1.8 million deaths each year. The first project, by civil and environmental engineering professor Benito Mariñas, is an innovative water disinfection system. Over the next three years, the project team will further investigate pathogen infectivity, develop a sensor to detect these pathogens in the water, treat them and make a business plan to get the device to those who need it most.
The second project, by crop sciences professor Sarah Taylor Lovell, aims to meet the demands for healthy food in a sustainable way. The project will investigate the use of tree and hedge crops with perennial yields compared to traditional crops. “Woody” crops offer a sustainable solution because they use the resources more efficiently and could produce multiple crops in its various layers. A new research farm will be established to study this transition and compare the economic impact.
Agricultural and biological engineering professor Bruce Elliott-Litchfield has also developed a project to develop stored solar stoves. His team will study the logistics and design of making a stove that can be used at night using solar power. The group will develop prototypes for testing. Each of these projects is interdisciplinary, and the teams will be comprised of researchers with similar interests from across the campus departments.
The idea to create a sustainability institute was one of the first recommendations to come out of the Visioning Future Excellence conversations. Our campus community identified this as a goal, and it is also represented in our campus strategic plan. Without the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE), these projects may never have happened. I am pleased to see iSEE joining our other institutes (The Institute for Genomic Biology, Beckman Institute, Prairie Research Institute and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications) in leading interdisciplinary efforts on campus. It is truly amazing what we can accomplish at Illinois when we work together, and it is invigorating to see this progress.
Many universities claim to use innovation to change the world. But at Illinois, we are taking steps towards that ambitious venture. We are routinely taking good ideas and turning them into targeted projects to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems.
Around the Campus
Congratulations to Adam Bleakney on being named the Paralympic National Coach of the Year. Read the full story here.
Congratulations to Jeffrey S. Moore, who has been named the the Murchison-Mallory Professor of Chemistry at Illinois, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. Read the full story here.
Congratulations to our nine Illinois students who have received Avery Brundage Scholarships. See the full list of recipients and read the full story here.
Congratulations to the six University of Illinois Ph.D. students who will receive a $20,000 FMC Technologies Inc. Fellowship for the 2014-15 academic year, and three master’s students who will each receive $12,000. See the full list of recipients and read the full story here.
Congratulations to our recently-announced Dean’s List and Bronze Tablet honorees and graduates for the spring 2014 semester. Five thousand eight hundred ninety-two students were named to the Dean’s List in May. View a full list here.