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.

Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here:
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

.@KU bschool 's KIP team includes @KU _SADP students in all-ages housing project. #KUworks
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.

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