Guiding UNC Charlotte’s research direction

Categories: Research Tags: Academic Affairs, Research

Over the past year, a dedicated group of UNC Charlotte faculty, staff and administrators collaborated to study the University’s potential to become a top-tier research university. Through a rigorous evaluation process, the commission recommended concrete, actionable steps that Charlotte should take to continue to grow its research enterprise and build upon its existing and emerging strengths to advance its status as a top-tier research university.

“The members of the Top-Tier Research Commission, who wholeheartedly engaged in the purposeful work of defining Charlotte’s research direction for the coming decade while teaching, conducting research and administering departments during a pandemic, demonstrated extraordinary individual and collective dedication to the University’s growth and success,” said Rick Tankersley, vice chancellor for Research and Economic Development. “We owe our colleagues a debt of gratitude for their year-long commitment to setting the groundwork for continued institutional excellence and the acceleration of research growth.”

The commission’s work led to “Roadmap to Research Top Tier,” a report that offers recommendations and strategies for activating a key goal of “Shaping What’s Next: Strategic Plan 2021-31”: Power the future through inquiry, research and creative discovery. The report identifies 17 areas of research at UNC Charlotte that address some of society’s most complex and urgent challenges for particular exploration. A larger group of 82 nominations was submitted by teams of University researchers earlier this year. These submissions were thoroughly vetted by the Commission to select the final areas of research focus — some existing, others emerging, most interdisciplinary — that provide UNC Charlotte a directed path for pursuing the goal to become a top-tier research university.

“Recognizing the diversity of research activity at the University and that high-impact knowledge and research may come from any disciplinary field, the work of all UNC Charlotte researchers will be critically important,” said Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber. “Opportunities will emerge regularly for new projects and collaborations within each of the stated research categories. We strongly encourage creative approaches to innovative discovery across disciplines that continue to drive our reputation as North Carolina’s urban research university.”

Early in the spring semester, college-specific town hall meetings for faculty and staff will provide forums for additional details, feedback and questions; more information will be available soon.

Members of the Top-Tier Research Commission are:

  • Chair: Rick Tankersley, vice chancellor for Research and Economic Development
  • Kirill Afonin, associate professor, Chemistry (CLAS)
  • David Bellar, chair, Kinesiology (CHHS)
  • Cheryl Brown, chair, Political Science and Public Administration (CLAS)
  • Blaine Brownell, director, School of Architecture (CoA+A)
  • Valerie Crickard, executive director, Grants and Contracts Administration (RED)
  • John Daniels, chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering (CoEN)
  • Nancy Gutierrez, dean (CLAS)
  • Scott Kissau, interim associate dean, Research and Graduate Education (CoED)
  • Richard Lambert, professor, Education, Education Leadership (CoED)
  • Heather Lipford, interim associate dean, Research (CCI)
  • Mike Mazzola, director, EPIC (CoEN)
  • Valerie Mazzotti, professor, Special Education and Child Development (CoED)
  • Fatma Mili, dean (CCI)
  • Brigid Mullany, professor, Mechanical Engineering (CoEN)
  • Beth Racine, professor, Public Health Sciences (CHHS)
  • Lisa Rasmussen, professor, Philosophy (CLAS)
  • Adam Reitzel, professor, Biological Sciences (CLAS)
  • Samira Shaikh, assistant professor, Computer Science (CCI)
  • Liz Siler, interim associate dean for Collection Services, Library (AA)
  • Elizabeth Stearns, professor, Sociology (CLAS)
  • Peter Szanton, director, Office of Research (CLAS)
  • Brett Tempest, associate professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering (CoEN)
  • Lori Thomas, director, Research and Faculty Engagement (Urban Institute)
  • Byron White, associate provost, Urban Research and Community Engagement (AA)
  • Dongsong Zhang, Belk Endowed Chair, Business Information Systems and Operations Management (CoB)