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OSU’s VP of research highlights collaboration, innovation, grants

In her inaugural State of Research Address at Ohio State, Caroline Whitacre, vice president of research at OSU, showcased the achievements of university researchers Wednesday morning.

She highlighted the researchers’ collaborations and innovations.

Whitacre said more than 5,000 faculty, staff and student researchers representing 14 colleges and many academic disciplines are working together to solve problems throughout the world.

To promote those real-world research applications, the university has invested $110 million in an initiative called the Targeted Investments in Excellence.

One of the initiative’s 10 programs focused on climate, water and carbon. It brought together several disciplines to address climate change, the availability of fresh water worldwide and strategies to offset the impact of fossil fuels.

Another university investment includes the International Poverty Solutions Collaborative program, part of the Center of Innovation initiative. Four research teams have focused on revitalizing urban areas, including the Weinland Park community east of campus. In a collaboration of government and university officials, neighborhood civic leaders and housing advocates, the initiative has developed a 500-unit, government-subsidized housing project, an elementary school and a police substation.

In 2010, OSU researchers were awarded new grants and contracts totaling $501.4 million — the largest amount in OSU history, Whitacre said.

Researchers in the College of Education and Human Ecology, in collaboration with its 14 university partners, were awarded a $45.6 million grant for nationwide expansion of an intervention program for illiteracy called Reading Recovery.

In addition to research collaborations, Whitacre also highlighted innovation and the commercialization of technologies developed by OSU researchers.

“Researchers have been encouraged to move new discoveries and new technologies into commercializable products that can benefit society,” Whitacre said.

One OSU researcher developed a polymer that is now used in a medical imaging device used to detect breast cancer. The discovery led to the formation of a company called Tracer Diagnostic.

“It’s impressive to see the breadth of what is going on and the collaborations going on between the universities going on as well,” said John Hillenbrand, chief innovation officer at Owens Corning.

Whitacre’s address kicked off “Celebrate Research Month,” which highlights the breadth of research going on at the university, according to the Office of Research.


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