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Creative Research Collaborations to Start with “Pop-Up Institutes”

Creative Research Collaborations to Start with “Pop-Up Institutes”

Faculty members in the College of Natural Sciences are leading new Pop-Up Institutes as part of a new interdisciplinary research initiative at The University of Texas at Austin. Three Pop-Up Institutes were announced this week, with two originating in Natural Sciences. These research efforts will assemble fresh collaborations to address the influence of individual variation on the health and fitness of populations and the impact of discrimination on health outcomes.

Pop-Up Institutes are a new campus-wide research initiative designed to address specific goals. Multidisciplinary teams at UT Austin will spend the upcoming academic year preparing for a burst of activity focused on a specific area of research. These Institutes will then 'Pop Up' for one month — longer than an academic conference, but less than a dedicated research center or program.

"This novel approach gives distinguished researchers the time and space to work together outside of traditional disciplines and think about an important problem in a new way," says Dan Jaffe, vice president for research at UT Austin and a faculty member in the Department of Astronomy. "I am confident we will see remarkable results and build new connections across campus."

Professor of integrative biology Hans Hofmann, who is the director of the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, will lead one Pop-Up Institute. Called Seeing the Tree AND the Forest: Understanding Individual and Population Variation in Biology, Medicine and Society, it will focus on how variation among a population of individuals determines what makes a population thrive.

"Our Pop-Up-Institute will organize a symposium, working groups, and a hackathon to explore transdisciplinary perspectives on the causes and consequences of individual and population variation in biology, medicine and society," says Hofmann.

Another Pop-Up Institute is headed by Stephen Russell, the Priscilla Pond Flawn Regents Professor in Child Development in the School of Human Ecology and incoming chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences. Discrimination and Population Health Disparities will bring together leading health, policy and discrimination scholars to investigate the dramatic implications of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, social class or LGBTQ status for health.

"We want to nurture research that will help understand discrimination – and dismantle how it undermines health," says Russell.

The Office of the Vice President for Research will host a Town Hall meeting to introduce the Institutes and their team members on September 15. This event is open to the entire UT community and will provide campus researchers an opportunity to contribute their perspectives to the new Institutes.
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Saturday, 18 November 2017

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