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UTSA Knowledge Enterprise launches research interest groups

UTSA Knowledge Enterprise launches research interest groups

SEPTEMBER 21, 2021 — The Office of the Vice President for Research, Economic Development, and Knowledge Enterprise (REDKE) is launching research interest groups (RIGs) to provide a forum for UTSA researchers from across disciplines and the extended research community to work collaboratively on emerging transdisciplinary fields in academia.

RIGs members represent colleges and departments from all corners of UTSA and will include community-based organizations and industry partners in the San Antonio region with the purpose of conducting innovative research on specific topics, and to seek funding opportunities to support new ideas and investigations.

“These new research interest groups will broaden our lines of scientific inquiry, create new synergies and connections in transdisciplinary domains.”

RIGs are an evolution of the cluster hires undertaken jointly by the REDKE office and the Office of Academic Affairs, which support the hiring of promising, accomplished and diverse faculty in key areas. These initiatives help the university address society’s grand challenges and support President Taylor Eighmy’s vision for UTSA.

The transition to research interest groups is a natural progression of the focused cluster hires that began back in 2015 at UTSA with the first cluster hiring in cyber, followed by cloud computing, brain health, data sciences, artificial intelligence, and most recently, social and environmental challenges in Latin America, quantum information science, and human performance.

Social and Environmental Challenges in Latin America

Led by Jason Yaeger (anthropology), this group examines complex dynamics that connect culture, society and institutions with changing climate and environmental conditions. This nexus brings together researchers from a wide range of fields including social sciences, environmental sciences and engineering, and humanities, as well as education, policy and development studies.

“One of the greatest challenges facing humanity today is climate change—understanding it, slowing it down, and adapting to it,” Yaeger said. “A problem this complex, with intertwined social and environmental dimensions, can only be tackled with collaborative, transdisciplinary research teams like our RIG.”

Quantum Computation and Quantum Information

Led by Jeff Prevost (electrical and computer engineering), this group brings experts in physics (experimental and theoretical), mathematics, computer science, electrical engineering, and public policy. With a growing list of published papers, their most recent was featured in Nature, and they have many more in preparation. With three patents filed to date and multiple grants currently under review, the group has mobilized through a UTSA Quantum Slack Channel, now available to the larger research community.

Human Performance

Led by Hugo Giambini (biomedical engineering), this is a team of multi-disciplinary researchers from biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering and kinesiology. Using state-of-the art approaches, their goal is to discover new knowledge through research to improve health, and maximize performance, wellness and nutrition. Some areas of research include aging, biomechanics and injury prevention, sport performance and nutritional blood biomarkers. The group has ongoing collaborations with local physicians and researchers from UT Health, the Texas Military Institute and other national and international institutes. With numerous published works and funded research proposals, the group is dedicated to understanding of the basic mechanisms that influence musculoskeletal performance to improve quality of life and physical performance while minimizing the risk of injury.

“Our Human Performance RIG is composed of very talented faculty who aim to expand their collaborative work and perform research that can be translated to the clinic or sport settings to improve health, quality of life and reduce the risk of initial and subsequent injuries,” Giambini said.

Fall plans for all three RIGs include monthly meetings and a networking event for each. All engagements aim to find commonalities in research interests from potential new members. REDKE seeks topic suggestions and champions to launch additional RIGs in the fall and upcoming spring semester.

Learn more about innovative new research projects being funded by the UTSA Knowledge Enterprise.
⇒ Brush up on the latest faculty members inducted into the UTSA Academy of Distinguished Researchers.

“These new research interest groups will broaden our lines of scientific inquiry, create new synergies and connections in transdisciplinary domains, and will also broaden our institutional research impact,” said Bernard Arulanandam, vice president for research, economic development, and knowledge enterprise at UTSA.

Faculty interested in participating in one of the RIGs or in attending the virtual events this fall can contact Siobhan Fleming, director for research development in the REDKE Office of Strategic Research Initiatives.

Sarah Hada

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