Full Plan: Pursuits – Research
Changing the world through transformative research
Research lies at the heart of The University of Texas at Austin’s mission as the state’s flagship university and drives UT’s global impact as a tier-one institution.
Our research is defined by innovation, boldness, and excellence. It is supported by state-of-the art infrastructure and influential scholarly and creative collections and libraries that bring learners and researchers, scholars and practitioners together to produce new ideas. It is why we have more than 50 programs ranked in the top 10 nationally, draw more National Science Foundation funding than nearly any other university, and patent more than 100 discoveries each year.
To achieve our aspiration to become the world’s highest-impact public research university, we will continue to expand and connect our ambitious scholarly and creative pursuits. We will equip and embolden our faculty and students to push the boundaries of knowledge, respond to society’s greatest challenges, and enrich lives globally.
To this end, we issue a clarion call to the entire UT community – students, staff, and faculty – to pursue bold fundamental and applied research and cutting-edge scholarship across all segments of campus, including the sciences, engineering, humanities, social sciences, the arts, and professional programs. These pursuits will require both traditional and innovative methods of inquiry that cut across disciplinary boundaries and leverage UT’s excellence at scale.
We will amplify our creative, scholarly, and research activities across diverse focus areas. We will pay particular attention to three areas where we are uniquely poised to tackle some of the most important problems facing the globe. These areas are intertwined with Texas’ vast assets and UT’s existing expertise, giving us a distinct advantage as we generate world-changing research and amplify our leadership.
- We will build on the state’s and UT’s generations-long leadership around Energy and Environment. We will forge strong cross-campus connections spanning the technical, scientific, social, health, legal, political, and economic expertise needed to understand and manage these complex systems. In doing so, we will enhance and expand energy strategies and policies and ensure a more sustainable future for the nation and world.
- We will lead at the interface of Technology and Society, elevating our already world-class portfolio of research in computing and technology while building strong bridges to the humanities, social sciences, and health disciplines. We will become a global leader in understanding and developing technologies that meet the needs and uphold the values of a diverse and dynamic society.
- We will become known for pioneering revolutionary, comprehensive research in Health and Well-Being, leveraging the capabilities of our innovative medical school and other strengths across campus. We will conduct fundamental, applied, and clinical research that integrates physical and mental health, education, socioeconomics, technology, and the natural and built environment. In doing so, we will advance health outcomes, reduce disparities, and drive Austin to become a model healthy city of the future.
To achieve its highest impact, the university must become an even stronger magnet for innovative faculty, staff, and students; offer them unparalleled mentoring and training; support them in their ambitious pursuits; and elevate leaders across campus who understand the power of university research to change lives.
To expand research and scholarship that elevates UT’s impact, we will focus on multiple initiative areas:
Initiative areas to accelerate groundbreaking research, scholarship, and creative arts in all fields
5.1. CELEBRATE BOLD APPROACHES
Incubate and celebrate creative and bold inquiry
For UT to become the world’s highest-impact public research university, our faculty must continually be on the leading edge of research and scholarship, incubating new areas of exploration and curiosity-driven inquiry. They must be empowered to leverage UT’s and Texas’ vast and unique assets to pursue fundamental research, applied and translational research, excellence in the creative arts, and scholarship in the humanities. These efforts will help UT identify and propel breakthroughs, exploration, and creativity in new and interdisciplinary clusters.
To encourage bold inquiry and research, we will:
- Advance the frontiers of knowledge by supporting and rewarding distinct, curiosity-driven inquiry across all disciplines.
- Facilitate innovative partnerships and communities of interest across disciplines, colleges, schools, and units.
- Build structures to identify and pursue burgeoning research areas, drawing inspiration from the assets and expertise on campus, around Texas, and beyond.
- Facilitate faculty collaboration in high-impact research and creative arts areas through cluster hires, incubators, and central university support for collaborative proposal development.
- Proactively recognize achievements of all types to increase their impact.
- Amplify the reach and impact of UT research by partnering with scholars and scientists at leading institutions in the U.S. and worldwide.
5.2. LEVERAGE OUR BREADTH, SCALE, AND QUALITY
Leverage the breadth of faculty and researcher excellence to accelerate high-impact research and scholarship across disciplines
Solving intractable problems and advancing knowledge for a better future requires the best minds and most innovative scholars to come together across disciplines. UT’s scale, breadth, and outstanding faculty and staff create unparalleled opportunity for the university to lead in interdisciplinary research and scholarship and serve as a model for other institutions around the state, nation, and world.
To address societal grand challenges and advance knowledge and creativity through interdisciplinary research and scholarship, we will:
- Identify and nurture existing and new cross-campus connections to fuel impactful research and develop visionary campus leaders who are committed to interdisciplinary mentorship and collaboration.
- Create an on-campus incubator for group collaborations that catalyzes impactful collaborations across the Forty Acres and beyond.
- Value and reward research that addresses society’s biggest problems through collaborative, cross-discipline approaches, and hire more exceptional scholars for these pursuits.
- Break down structural barriers to collaboration, including by removing disincentives and creating positive incentives for faculty members to embark on broad-reaching collaborations.
- Leverage our interdisciplinary strengths in research to integrate interdisciplinary concepts, skill, and experience into undergraduate and graduate education.
5.3. BUILD THE BEST INFRASTRUCTURE
Build the best research infrastructure, assets, and collections in the world
To pursue the highest-impact research, UT scholars must have access to the best infrastructure, technology, resources, and collections available. We are already world-renowned for our assets and collections, including the Texas Advanced Computing Center, Harry Ransom Center, Benson Latin American Collection, McDonald Observatory, and Briscoe Center. We have the opportunity to enhance these assets and build new ones that continue to attract top research and global partners.
To expand and improve upon our research infrastructure, assets, and collections, we will:
- Leverage our scale, breadth, and size to develop the infrastructure that can drive impactful research outcomes across disciplines.
- Create a culture where shared facilities, collective strengths in digital assets and data, trained personnel, and user engagement lower barriers to entry and spur more groundbreaking research.
- Make ambitious, deliberate, and intentional investments in emerging technology, equipment, and facilities in core areas of focus.
- Broaden the scale of our global reach by making our facilities, collections, and resources accessible to researchers from UT, the state, nation, and world.
Initiative areas to tackle key global challenges and opportunities
5.4. ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Lead the nation in Energy and Environment research
Our people, place, and experiences in the heart of Texas position UT as the single best university to lead the nation in expanding strategies and policies for producing, storing, and using energy; advancing sustainability; and pioneering impactful Energy and Environment research.
To strengthen our global leadership position in Energy and Environment research, we will:
- Identify and propel specific areas of fundamental and applied research for which UT is uniquely poised to drive impact.
- Build strong connections across our incredible assets, including the nearly 30 energy-related centers across campus, to create an integrated research vision that will propel UT to global leadership in this domain.
- Leverage UT’s network of field stations and other sites around the world to capture data, forecast trends, and expand biodiversity, environmental, and social science research.
- Strengthen, deepen, and expand the external and industry partnerships that are unique to UT and Texas to advance global impact on issues of energy and the environment.
5.5. TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY
Propel the leading edge of Technology and Society research
Our global leadership in technology research and our location in one of the world’s most dynamic tech hubs position us to drive fundamental advances in technology and pursue a deeper understanding of their impact on society. We will conduct research across campus that takes technology in even more innovative directions. In parallel, we will promote scholarship collaborations with the humanities and social sciences to examine the implications of technology innovations on our communities, including in areas such as personal privacy and equity, and create solutions to amplify technology’s positive impacts. In short, we will progress a research agenda that has global impact in computing, robotics, and other technological advances while also understanding the human dimensions, applications, and impacts of these advances.
To advance our impact in Technology and Society research, we will:
- Identify and propel specific areas of fundamental and applied research for which UT is uniquely poised to drive impact.
- Grow interdisciplinary connections through groups and efforts such as the Oden Institute, Texas Advanced Computing Center, and Good Systems to create an integrated research vision that propels our incredible assets so that UT is globally recognized as a leading university in technology and society.
- Advance our fundamental understanding of the interface between technology, society, and humanity — its history, impacts, and potential for the future.
- Collectively propel beneficial uses of technology in areas as diverse as health care and urban design to improve how we live and interact with the world.
- Leverage technology to advance research in the social sciences and beyond.
- Advance ideas and innovations into the world to transform Austin into a tech-enabled “city of the future.”
5.6. HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
Drive research in health and well-being that transforms quality of care and life
As a tier-one research university with a medical school; schools of nursing, pharmacy, and social work; and a talented group of basic researchers in sciences, social sciences, and engineering who are innovating well-being-focused research, education, community engagement, and clinical care, we have a duty to meaningfully improve health and well-being and increase health access, outcomes, and innovation locally and globally. Our location in a growing and dynamic city and our breadth of experts will help unleash UT to pioneer research that drives knowledge and improves lives.
To create breakthrough research and impact in Health and Well-Being, we will:
- Identify and propel specific areas of fundamental and applied research for which UT is uniquely poised to transform health care outcomes and models.
- Grow interdisciplinary connections spanning Dell Medical School and a broad range of departments and institutes, including existing and new initiatives in Energy and Environment and Technology and Society.
- Continue investment in Dell Medical School to become a research center of excellence and leverage the development of health care delivery capabilities within Dell Medical School to enable research advancements.
- Develop research approaches that promote a comprehensive view of well-being and health — physical, mental, emotional, social — across a range of environmental, economic, historical, social, and geopolitical contexts.
- Drive and connect fundamental, applied, and clinical research to produce ground-breaking clinical outcomes, transform the health care industry, and reduce disparities in health care access and outcomes.
- Support the development of university-aligned health care delivery infrastructure to accelerate the pace of discovery and impact from bench to bedside.
- Work in partnership with outstanding health care organizations and agencies across Austin, Texas, and the nation to drive innovation and build equitable “healthy communities” of the future, beginning in Austin and along the Texas-Mexico border.
Initiative areas to advance UT’s impact beyond the Forty Acres
5.7. CREATIVE ARTS AND HUMANITIES
Scale UT’s creative arts and humanities scholarship impact
An impactful flagship university is committed to advancing knowledge across all disciplines, particularly the humanities and arts. Such scholarship in UT’s College of Fine Arts, College of Liberal Arts, Moody College of Communication, collections, and across campus is fundamental to enriching and elevating lives and advancing curiosity-driven inquiry.
To further our impact in creative arts and humanities scholarship, we will:
- Encourage and enable humanists, thinkers, artists, and creators to produce transformative scholarship and works that reimagine the world of the past, present, and future, while promoting the contributions of faculty, staff, and students across disciplines.
- Continue to support and promote existing assets such as the Blanton Museum, Harry Ransom Center, and Briscoe Center for American History to share our collections, works, and programs with society.
- Commission and support more physical and digital collections, artwork, and performances both on the Forty Acres and the global stage.
- Harness the energy of Austin, including the South by Southwest Festival and “Austin City Limits,” to elevate UT as a creative hub and propel outstanding artists and works onto the global stage.
5.8. GLOBAL IMPACT
Reach the world so we can change the world
UT faculty, staff, and students pursue research to elevate lives, advance knowledge, drive entrepreneurship, and propel progress. No matter how innovative and impactful their work may be, they must be unleashed from the Forty Acres to change the world.
To propel knowledge out from UT, we will:
- Expand our capacity to communicate research with the public, media, and policymakers worldwide.
- Increase opportunities for faculty and staff to work with the private sector, government, and community organizations, as well as to connect with global scholars.
- Educate doctoral graduates and faculty members about opportunities to commercialize research, streamline internal processes to commercialize discoveries, and support scholars in translating their ideas to the marketplace.
- Support and incentivize faculty, staff, and students to serve as experts, disseminate their findings, and objectively educate the public while bolstering UT as a “go to” source of expertise and world-changing ideas and inventions.
How we will measure our success
To maximize the impact of our research and scholarship, we will focus on a series of specific goals:
Greater impact, leadership, research, scholarship, and creative arts activity
- Increase research, scholarship, and creative arts funding from government and private sources
- Increase the number of influential papers, books, scholarly contributions, software, copyrights, and patents across disciplines
- Increase UT’s research presence in national discourse
- Increase frequency of UT researchers’ expertise sought by government, foundations, news media, community, industry, and other external entities
- Increase the number of UT researchers engaging with external (academic and non-academic) entities to expand the impact of their research
- Increase the number of prestigious research, scholarship, and creative arts-oriented awards and accolades for individual faculty members
- Bring more UT innovations to market through technology and research commercialization
- Recognize and celebrate impact examples of all types from each college and school
Tangible impact in three areas of research focus (Energy and Environment, Technology and Society, Health and Well-Being)
- Increase research and scholarship activity and funding in each area
- Recognize and celebrate awards, accolades, and impact examples in each area
Increased interdisciplinary collaboration across all disciplines, but especially in our three areas of focus
- Increase faculty networks across disciplines within the three areas of focus and across the university
- Increase research, scholarship, and creative arts activity with faculty from more than one college or school
- Recognize and celebrate collaboration impact examples
- Create an on-campus incubator for group sabbaticals and other group collaborations
Raised bar on research infrastructure and support
- Earn high faculty satisfaction with research support
- Increase leading infrastructure developed by UT experts
- Increase faculty members’ perceptions of being valued and recognized by UT for their scholarly contributions