Kevin Boatright
Office of Research

KU research grants program supports Bold Aspirations strategic themes

Thu, 10/17/2013

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas’ five-year strategic plan, Bold Aspirations, calls for a commitment to invest resources strategically around four research themes. KU created a Research Investment Council to turn that commitment into funding, and faculty and staff have responded to the opportunity by launching 20 new theme-related research projects.

The council, made up of eight faculty members from the Lawrence and Medical Center campuses, solicits, reviews and recommends action on Strategic Initiative Grant proposals. With four grant review competitions now completed, KU has committed $3.4 million to nine multiyear Level I awards. These involve requests of more than $50,000 but are typically in the $100,000 to $300,000 range. Using a separate process, KU also has committed more than $400,000 to 11 Level II awards, involving requests of less than $50,000. Altogether, nearly 50 researchers are participating in grant-funded projects.

“Bold Aspirations encourages everyone at KU to envision ways to transform our university,” said Jeff Vitter, provost and executive vice chancellor. “KU has recognized research strengths in our strategic initiatives in energy, the environment, human health, public policy, the humanities and information technology. The grants awarded to date enhance existing strengths and stimulate new collaborative teams.”

Vitter noted that the next deadline for Level I proposals is Friday, Nov. 1, while the final deadline for the academic year is March 1. Proposals consist of a detailed narrative description, a budget, letters of support, a sustainability plan and other documentation. More information about the program is available online, where proposals are submitted using a secure online system.

“KU is constantly striving towards our vision of recognition among the top tier of public, international research universities,” said Vitter, “by being strategic, building synergies, living our core values and taking action. The grant program embodies all of these elements.”

Research Investment Council Level I commitments to date:

  • The Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training: Phase II Expansion ($250,000 annually for three years)
  • Initiative for the Arts in Collaborative Research ($92,000 annually for three years)
  • Forecasting Emerging Diseases for Communities and Public Health ($150,000 annually for two years)
  • Continuing Discovery of Novel Biomedical Leads from Kansas Plants ($400,000 over three years)
  • Establishing a Multi-Disciplinary Data Science Research Team at the University of Kansas ($282,000 over two years)
  • Chemical Biology Team Science Approach to Cancer Drug Discovery ($400,000 over two years)
  • The Discovery and Development of New Antifungal Agents ($203,763 over two years)
  • Establish a KU Center for Antimicrobial Discovery and Development ($291,687 over three years)
  • Determining the Effects of Rising CO2 and Temperature on Flowering Time: Scientific and Social Implications ($328,867 over three years)

Level II commitments to date are:

  • High-Fidelity Numerical Modeling of Glacier Science ($39,500)
  • Phylogenomics of Vertebrate Adaptive Radiations in Island Archipelagos of the Southwest Pacific ($49,976)
  • A Mobile Collaboratory for Civic Engagement ($29,000)
  • I-70 Interdisciplinary Aging Research Network ($50,000)
  • Kansas Anti-Human Trafficking and Slavery Initiative: KASHTI ($39,809)
  • Investment in the Kansas City Area Education Research ($32,354)
  • Tough Piezoelectric Composite Materials for Spine Implants ($28,500)
  • Resilient Lifestyles for Older Adults: Seeding a Center on Sustainable Longevity ($49,557)
  • Neuroimaging of TBI-associated Alzheimer’s disease in the KU Wounded Warrior Program ($27,285)
  • Anti-Bullying Intervention Development Initiative ($32,029)
  • Community Based Development of Pilot Program to Promote Health among Urban Latino Youth in a School Based Setting ($24,562)

Brief descriptions of each project, and the names of participating KU researchers, can be found online.

Happy Kansas Day, Kansans! We caught sunflowers standing tall at the Grinter Family Farms just outside Lawrence last fall. You may wonder how the sunflower came to be the State flower in 1903 and we found an excerpt from Kansas legislation: Whereas, Kansas has a native wild flower common throughout her borders, hardy and conspicuous, of definite, unvarying and striking shape, easily sketched, moulded, and carved, having armorial capacities, ideally adapted for artistic reproduction, with its strong, distinct disk and its golden circle of clear glowing rays -- a flower that a child can draw on a slate, a woman can work in silk, or a man can carve on stone or fashion in clay; and Whereas, This flower has to all Kansans a historic symbolism which speaks of frontier days, winding trails, pathless prairies, and is full of the life and glory of the past, the pride of the present, and richly emblematic of the majesty of a golden future, and is a flower which has given Kansas the world-wide name, "the sunflower state"... Be it enacted ... that the helianthus or wild native sunflower is ... designated ... the state flower and floral emblem of the state of Kansas.

Have family visiting Lawrence? #exploreKU and take them to the @KUnhm like @ChrisCanDesign did.
Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (, associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times