UI holds first ever State of Research Address

BY BEN MARKS | NOVEMBER 11, 2014 5:00 AM

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In an effort to continue successful research at the University of Iowa, officials have hosted the first ever research address, informing the public of the status of research and plans for the future.

“Upfront, I think it’s very important, critical in fact, to say research will and must remain one of our core missions at the University of Iowa and a very integral part of our institutional identity,” UI President Sally Mason said.

The State of Research Address focused on problems facing research today and how the UI can combat them.

This address, the first of its kind at the university, is expected to be an annual event.

Daniel Reed, the UI vice president for Research and Economic Development, gave the address and pushed the idea to eliminate the separation between disciplines and form a common platform from which researchers from all areas can more easily communicate and exchange ideas.

“It’s very hard for people to talk about a common problem if they don’t have a common language,” he said.

Mason also touched on the need for increased interdisciplinary communication and cooperation.

“The problems confronting our world today are not one dimensional, and they’re also not always neatly mapped onto traditional disciplines,” she said.

Reed also noted the challenges facing research, mainly the significant decrease in support from federal funding the university has seen during the last four years.

In fiscal 2012, the UI received almost $276.5 million from federal agencies. The UI only received around $246.5 million from federal agencies in fiscal 2013.

Since 1992, he said, the fraction of Gross Domestic Product the United States has invested in research and development has declined from second to 10th place when ranked among the most major economies in the world.

This decline, he said, is not because the U.S is decreasing support of research but because other countries are increasing theirs while we remain unchanged.

The third, and perhaps most basic challenge, Reed said, facing research was its long-term nature.

“The fundamental problem is this: The payoff from investment in research is huge, but it’s long term, while its costs are apparent upfront,” he said.

Despite these challenges however, the message remained clear: There is plenty that can be done to overcome them.

Jon Winet, the director of the Digital Studio for Public Arts and Humanities, said he appreciated the address and believes at a time when the university is facing tremendous financial and political challenges, a speech showcasing “the inspiration and ability of the university to get the job done” was necessary.

“There’s some very bold ideas in there,” Winet said. “About innovation, about teamwork, about new ways of imagining research.”

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