Top 10 Inquiry Stories of 2014
Last June, the Office of the Vice President for Research launched Inquiry to explore the impact of university research and tap into the collective knowledge of the University of Minnesota’s research community. In its first seven months, Inquiry has covered a wide range of research topics, from groundbreaking discoveries, to new partnerships and collaborative projects, to thought leadership from some of the U’s top experts. Here’s a look back on Inquiry’s 10 most viewed stories from 2014.
This video, produced for the launch of Inquiry, helped to jumpstart the conversation about the value and impact of university research. It features three U of M voices sharing what inspires them to pursue discoveries that have an impact on our world. In addition to the video, the conversation continues on Twitter at #whyuniversityresearch.
In 2014, the U of M launched a record 15 startup companies, continuing the university’s upward trend in startup creation since the U’s Venture Center opened in 2006. We asked Russ Straate, the Venture Center’s associate director, to share what he sees as the secret to startup success.
Twice a year, Inquiry compiles a list of patents recently issued to U of M faculty for their discoveries in the life sciences, engineering and physical sciences, and software and IT. Patents are a critical milestone in the journey from discovery to commercialization and reflect the diversity and excellence of our vibrant research community.
In 2014, Carissa Slotterback, professor of urban planning in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, joined OVPR to serve as director of research engagement. In her new role, Slotterback is helping to advance collaborative research throughout the university and facilitate alignment among the U’s multiple strategic initiatives related to research.
One of 12 transdisciplinary research projects funded through MnDRIVE in 2014 (see below), this effort brings together a team of diverse experts from the U of M who are partnering with regional agencies, businesses and power companies to explore new ways to integrate renewable energies into the state’s power grid.
Advancing transdisciplinary partnerships is one of the cornerstones of the U’s strategic plan for research. In support of this goal, the university awarded $6 million for 12 transdisciplinary research grants to fund projects that cover at least three of the four MnDRIVE research areas and bring together faculty and resources from multiple disciplines.
Another MnDRIVE transdisciplinary research project, this effort involves a team of U researchers, from apparel designers to computer engineers, who are developing wearable electronics to treat tinnitus and other neurological disorders using groundbreaking, non-invasive methods.
In August, Inquiry produced a series of stories on international research, looking at U of M projects that address grand challenges, such as healthcare, food security and the environment, on a global scale. This map, using travel data from the U’s Global Programs and Strategy Alliance, shows just how much of the world they cover.
2014 was a big year for U of M researcher Jian-Ping Wang, whose discoveries have recently led to three startup companies (two launched in FY14), a prize at the Nokia Sensing Xchallenge and a feature in the National Journal. This story focuses on Wang’s handheld biosensing device that detects up to 64 different diseases, from malaria to cancer, from a single drop of blood or urine.
Our most read story for the year highlights U of M research that is truly on the cutting edge of healthcare and science. In place of drugs or surgery, a team of MnDRIVE researchers are studying how to treat diabetes by introducing trillions of beneficial bacteria into patients’ small intestines. The research, which includes a clinical trial, will likely lead to the development of similar therapies for other diseases as well.
Erin is assistant communications director for the Office of the Vice President for Research and senior editor of Inquiry.