Research Interest Groups

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Research Interest Groups (RIGs) help connect PIs across campus to build interdisciplinary teams that span multiple colleges, schools or units, but for which there is not an established unit on campus. Topics, research questions, and goals are all driven by members of the RIGs. Are you looking for a researcher with specific subject matter expertise? Do you want to form a team around a special research interest? RIGs are a great way to mobilize a team with shared or complementary expertise and goals. Staff in the Office of the Vice President for Research will assist with coordination and communications, so that your team can focus on the collaboration and research goals.

Click on the RIGs below to learn more. If you would like to engage with one or more of the below RIGs or have any questions, contact us at

Research Interest Groups

The Office of the Vice President for Research is collaborating with Sandia National Laboratories to help bridge connections for researchers and tackle big issues in Artificial Intelligence (AI). While excitement about AI continues to grow, the slowing of Moore’s Law and computational costs of AI algorithms pose challenges to leveraging AI across multiple applications. The current neural networks revolution in AI, which has led to advanced solutions for tasks ranging from image classification to natural language processing, has been fed by significant advances in computing power, and the availability of nearly endless training data. The ever-increasing scale of neural network models has ballooned the energy and monetary costs of AI research. In addition, unlimited data looks to be increasingly vulnerable to concerns over privacy and security, and the significant costs of data collection and management. For these reasons, there is a growing need for novel data-efficient AI solutions that can achieve cognitive capabilities, while leveraging low-power hardware, such as neuromorphic systems. The Bio-Inspired Computing RIG aims to use inspiration from the brain to inspire novel approaches to computing architectures and artificial intelligence.

RIG Chairs: Brad Aimone, Sandia National Labs and Paul Navrátil, UT Austin

Email us at with any questions.

The Biophysics RIG provides a platform for students, post-docs, researchers, and faculty to share their research interests and projects through our Hang-outs. The Hang-outs are an informal space for all to share and inquire. We hope that bringing this interdisciplinary group together will foster new collaborations, inspire new ideas, and be an opportunity for academic cross-pollination.

RIG Chair: Manuel Rausch

The Brain Tumor Research Interest Group is an interdisciplinary translational research group that brings students, trainees, and faculty across the entire UT campus together to collaboratively focus on brain tumor research topics and advance ideas ranging from new discoveries of cancer biology, to mechanisms for developing better diagnostic & therapeutic strategies and clinical technologies. Importantly, the brain tumor RIG is composed of both basic and translational researchers offering a unique venue for cross pollination of ideas from the bench to the bedside.

RIG Chairs: Benjamin Umlauf and Olivia Lu

The Cerebrovascular Research Interest Group is a campus-wide interdisciplinary group focused on basic, translational, and clinical research pertaining to cerebrovascular disease. The group’s goal is to foster collaboration and catalyze interactions between clinicians and scientists, while also offering the opportunity to present research in progress and stimulate new research projects.

RIG Chairs: Ramsey Ashour and Andrew Dunn

The Earth Science RIG invites cross-disciplinary discussions that could lead to novel and exciting avenues of collaborative research. UT has a wide array of researchers involved in space borne observations, including engineers studying and designing instruments and systems, to scientists analyzing observations for the study of everything from ecology to geology, and beyond.

RIG Chair: Lori Magruder

The Health Informatics RIG provides an interdisciplinary forum for researchers to explore and collaborate around the topic of information and communication technologies that intersect with health and well-being across the lifespan. It seeks to balance and integrate efforts from the technological aspects of health informatics and those from the social, behavioral, and design aspects, particularly as related to age, culture, and community.

RIG Chair: Bo Xie

The University of Texas History of Diversity Research Interest Group is composed of scholars (faculty, postdocs, and graduate students) and led by Black Studies. The group will develop basic research on UT and Austin history with a specific emphasis on its raced and gendered aspects. The products of this research will be the basis for a series of publications and the development of curriculum on these topics. This research will also provide the University’s public history/commemorative projects with the information base upon which they will be developed. Participating scholars have research and teaching interest in the raced and gendered history of The University of Texas and Texas, the legal history of race in higher education, and the architecture and art of commemoration. Members of the RIG will include scholarly experts who hail from various scholarly disciplines on campus, including African and African Diaspora Studies, Architecture, Art History, Art Galleries at Black Studies, Education, Fine Arts, Geography, and History.

RIG Chairs: Cherise Smith (AADS, AGBS, Art History), Edmund Gordon (AADS)

The Imaging & Analysis RIG provides a forum for researchers across the spectrum of visual data analysis, from those who develop improved imaging methods to those who utilize imaging and visual analysis in their field. This RIG provides opportunity to exchange ideas, explore collaborations, organize for interdisciplinary funding opportunities, present early findings, and develop a research network across traditional departmental boundaries.

RIG Chair: Paul Navrátil

The Immunology Research Interest Group provides an opportunity for faculty, staff, and students from across the university to come together to share our research with one another and discuss current immunology topics of interest, including developmental immunology and hematopoiesis, tumor immunology/immunotherapy, lymphocyte biology, innate immunity, host responses to pathogens, neuroimmunology, and inflammation.

RIG Chair: Lauren Ehrlich

The Information Security Office has access to diverse data sets from across a vast state network and multiple security services spanning 200 countries. These touch on network connections, attacks and general security; system management, vulnerabilities and exploitation; end-user behavioral activities and related analysis; and more – representing some 25TB of data that is analyzed per day.

We believe that this uniquely available data can be leveraged for a wide variety of applied research projects, providing UT Austin a strategic advantage. Additionally, the ISO is potentially going to acquire 6,000 sq. ft. of collaborative research and analysis space in the Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL). Our hope is that this group will connect for other data analytics related research projects as the opportunities arise.

Chief ISO: Cam Beasley

MD Anderson Cancer Center and UT Austin have launched a strategic partnership aimed at promoting research collaborations between the two institutions. Principal areas of research cooperation pursued include brain tumors, neurodegeneration, early-onset colorectal cancer, and population health. Joint pilot fund established to co-develop transformative research projects with the expectation of attracting future extramural funding. Seed projects will be supported at a level of up to $50,000 for one year (three funding cycles).

For more information, please visit our website.

The Sensors RIG is a multidisciplinary group of researchers with interests in sensor materials, methods, devices and sensor applications for healthcare, environment, civil, petroleum, chemical industries and military applications. This group provides an opportunity to exchange ideas, present early findings, and explore collaborations and interdisciplinary funding opportunities. RIG’s aims are to connect sensor technologies, middleware and applications, and to provide an interface between academic and industrial research. Our members have backgrounds in the physical and biological sciences, technology, medical research, and social sciences.

RIG Chair: Tanya Hutter

The Social Justice Research Network connects 30 centers, institutes and other multi-investigator groups on campus whose research portfolio includes a focus on equity, social justice, or underserved populations. Our vision is to help individual PIs working in these areas get to know other colleagues with similar interests across colleges and schools, and for the centers and institutes to keep each other informed about their latest projects, grants, or collaborative opportunities.

For a list of participating groups, please visit our Airtable Gallery.

The Space Mission RIG network convenes likeminded researchers at UT for the enterprise of research from space platforms. Space missions offer research opportunities in many fields: astronomy and planetary science, space science, atmospheric physics, geoscience, fundamental physics, communications and tech development, archaeology, precision navigation, studies of the built environment, agriculture, ecology, and more. Work on such missions also produces extensive opportunities for interdisciplinary education and for the development of marketable skills in our graduate students. The quickening pace of industrial use of space and the advances in small satellite technology are introducing changes in the way we can use space missions for different types of research. Join the RIG network and collaborate with a diverse group of researchers to bring about advances in science and technology for space research.

RIG Chair: Lori Magruder

The Spinal Cord Injury RIG is a multidisciplinary group that extends across institutions in Austin and the surrounding area. Investigators are involved in a broad range of spinal cord injury research extending from rodent and primate models, to brain-machine interfaces, and to robotic exoskeleton design and control. A focus of the group is translational research to implement innovative interventions in the lived environment that improve health outcomes. This group meets to share and discuss current research interests, collaborations, and the needs of the spinal cord injury community and clinical practitioners.

RIG Executive Member: Lisa Griffin

The vision of the Texas Network for Obesity Research (TeNOR) is to promote effective obesity prevention and treatment approaches for Texans.

Our mission is to facilitate connections and collaborations to promote obesity research and to disseminate and implement evidence-based programs and policies for Texans across the lifespan, including diverse and underserved populations.

Our audacious goal is to revolutionize obesity research and practice in Texas.

Chair: Molly Bray

Do you have a research topic in mind but there are no groups on campus that can serve as a base for convening researchers and receiving or distributing relevant info? Start a RIG! You can lead the group and the Office of the Vice President for Research will assist with your goals and efforts.

To submit a request for a Research Interest Group, please complete this form. If you would like to prepare your responses in advance, please refer to this list of questions.

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