Interdisciplinary researchers focus on solving complex societal problems

鶹ƽ State University has announced the inaugural awardees of the highly competitive President’s Interdisciplinary Research Initiative.

The initiative is an effort to bring together the intellectual curiosity and strengths of faculty and students from a range of disciplines and give them the support to develop research programs that drive the diversity and growth of the Kansas economy while addressing global challenges. 

As defined by the National Science Foundation, interdisciplinary research is a means of solving vexing research problems — in particular, complex problems focusing on societal needs. It entails integrating knowledge, methods, and expertise from different disciplines and forming novel frameworks to catalyze scientific discovery and innovation.

The four interdisciplinary research programs competition winners announced at 鶹ƽ State are:


Sustainability Theme Winner

Smart Fusion Material Research Cluster

The Smart Fusion Material Research Institute will be developing novel computational, material and digital manufacturing approaches to unlock the complex interactions among material, microstructure, processing and mechanical properties involved in additive manufacturing.

  • Principal Investigator: Gisuk Hwang.
  • Co-PIs / Co-Directors: Saideep Nannapaneni, Mara Alagic, Ruowen Shen.
  • Co-PIs: Tianshi Lu, Kapildeb Ambal, Timothy Babb.
  • Senior Personnel: Xiaoheng Wang.
  • Intra-KBOR Collaborator: Xianglin Li (University of Kansas); Scott Thompson (Kansas State University).
View the proposal

Digital Transformations Theme Winner

Data-enabled Disaster Resilience Center

The Disaster Resilience Analytics Center will leverage the university’s expertise in artificial intelligence, deep learning and multiple modes of big data to better predict natural and human-made disasters and improve preparedness by creating a new generation of digital platforms and support services.

  • Principal Investigator and Director: Dukka K.C.
  • Co-PIs / Co-Directors: Glyn Rimmington, Chase Billingham, Terrance Figy, Mara Alagic, Atul Rai, Nathan Filbert
  • Co-PIs: Ajita Rattani, Kaushik Sinha, Rajiv Bagai, Atri Dutta, Zelalem Dimissie, Meghann Kuhlmann, Aaron Bowen, Maria Sclafani, Ethan Lindsay, Susan Matveyeva.
View the proposal

Health Disparities Theme Winner

Reduce Obesity Among Vulnerable Populations

The Institute for Health Disparities will generate new methods to reduce obesity among vulnerable populations and improve health literacy as a mechanism among health care providers for behavior change.

  • Principal Investigator: Twyla J. Hill, Cluster Director. 
  • Co-PIs: Laila Cure, Nikki Keene Woods, Rhonda K. Lewis, Ajita Rattani.
  • Student Member: Deanna Carrithers.
  • Senior Advisor Cluster Co-Directors: Betty Smith-Campbell, Jan Twomey.
View the proposal

Wildcard Theme Winner

Creating Educational Technologies to Assist Refugee Learners

The Center for Educational Technologies to Assist Refugee Learners will focus on designing innovative solutions to meet the educational needs to the children of the more than 70 million forcibly displaced refugees worldwide. As a result, it will also create innovative pathways and software for educational access to those in our state and nation.

In addition to their research focus, the faculty comprising each center or institute will also be working to develop new academic programs and engaging undergraduate and graduate students across the university.

  • Principal Investigator and Co-Director: Mythili Menon.
  • Co-PI and Co-Director: Karissa Marble-Flint.
  • Co-PI: JaeHwan Byun.
  • Senior Personnel: Zhiyong Shan, Janet Twomey, Andrew Bowman, Kelly Johnson.
  • Faculty Mentor: Ngoyi Bukonda.
  • Support Personnel: Jason Vandecreek
  • Intra-KBOR Collaborator: Hong Tien Vu (University of Kansas).
View the proposal