Pop-Up Institutes Foster New Research Partnerships

Austin, TEXAS – The University of Texas at Austin is starting a new research initiative called “Pop-Up Institutes” which are designed to harness knowledge, expertise, and resources across multiple disciplines on campus to address a specific research goal.

The Pop-Up Institutes consist of UT Austin interdisciplinary teams that 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. The chosen institutes will produce a symposium and hackathon, collaborations on population health disparities, and a digital research center.

“I am enthusiastic about the potential results of the research goals proposed by the three Institutes selected,” said Dan Jaffe, vice president for research at UT Austin. “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.“

Academia has traditionally operated in a ‘silo’ model. The expertise that exists in a subject, college, or school has often remained within that research community – without the language, time, and space to share this knowledge in ways with new colleagues who are outside the ordinary circle in which each scholar operates. Pop-Up Institutes provide dedicated resources, time and space for researchers across campus to combine their unique perspectives and distinct skill sets in focused pursuit of a common goal.

“It is rewarding to see the response and interest in this program. I am confident we will see remarkable results and build new connections across campus,” said Jaffe.

The first Pop-Up Institutes selected are:

Seeing the Tree and the Forest: Understanding Individual and Population Variation in Biology, Medicine, and Society

Individuals differ in a myriad of ways, from their genetics to their lifetime health. Understanding this variation is fundamentally important for promoting the success of individuals and the populations within which they live.

“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,” said Hans Hofmann, director of the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, team leader and professor of integrative biology.

Discrimination and Population Health Disparities

Research has shown that disparities in health related to race, ethnicity, social class or LGBTQ status occur throughout the human lifespan. This Institute will bring together leading health, policy and discrimination scholars to investigate the dramatic implications of discrimination for health.

“We want to nurture research that will help understand discrimination – and dismantle how it undermines health,” said Stephen Russell, team leader and the Priscilla Pond Flawn Regents Professor in Child Development.

DH@UT: Building a Digital Humanities Ecosystem for Innovative Research in the Liberal Arts

Digital research in the humanities is multifaceted, both examining the cultural impact of new media and information technologies and using those technologies to answer research questions.

“We are excited about coming together to catalyze, support, and promote the technological and social infrastructure needed for rigorous and public-minded digital research in the liberal arts,” said Tanya Clement, team leader and Assistant Professor in the School of Information.

SAVE THE DATE – 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.