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ND Announces Projects in $80-Million Strategic Research Investments

Author: William G. Gilroy


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In the midst of one of the most challenging economic climates colleges and universities have ever faced, the University of Notre Dame has announced significant additional internal funding to support nine research initiatives during the second phase of the University’s $80-million Strategic Research Investments (SRI) process. Projects selected for second-round SRI funding represent significant research undertakings in such areas as sustainable energy, HIV treatment, nanotechnology, and religious scholarship.

The first two phases of the SRI process represent an $80 million commitment of internal University financial resources to more than 14 research projects. “Each of these projects seeks to grow our existing strengths into new areas, by bringing together groups of faculty and striving for both significant disciplinary and interdisciplinary breakthroughs,” Robert Bernhard, vice president for research, says.

“These investments are designed to bring new initiatives, talent, and facilities to our campus to grow important programs of scholarship and engagement. From new approaches to a sustainable energy future to unique strategies for treating diseases such as AIDS and Hepatitis C to a better understanding of Islam and Roman Catholicism in the modern world, the scholarly and creative work of our faculty will help us to better serve society, which is our ambition.”

Second-Round Research initiatives

The titles of the research initiatives and their principal investigators are:

  • “Contending with Modernity: Islam and Roman Catholicism in a Secular Age,” R. Scott Appleby, professor of history and John M. Regan Jr. Director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. This initiative will explore the interaction between religious and secular modes of belief and practice for Islam and Catholicism as communities of faith and culture in the modern world.
  • “Sustainable Energy Initiative,” Joan Brennecke, Keating-Crawford Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. This initiative tackles the challenge of providing safer nuclear energy, cleaner fossil fuel processes, and transformative technologies to convert solar to chemical energy.
  • “N.D. Environmental Change Initiative,” David Lodge, professor of biological sciences. This research is designed to solve complex environmental problems such as invasive species, land use, and climate change, focusing on their impacts on water resources.
  • “Developing Group I Intron Antiviral Strategies for Treating HIV and HCV Infections,” Malcolm Fraser, professor of biological sciences. This initiative will develop unique strategies for eliminating chronic viral diseases of humans, such as AIDS and Hepatitis C.
  • “A Focused Interdisciplinary Research Group in Nanostructured Solar Cells,” Greg Hartland, professor of chemistry and biochemistry. This research is aimed at developing and exploiting new nanomaterials, as well as architectures, for solar energy conversion to electricity.
  • “Assessment of the Impact of Nanoparticles on Human Health and the Environment,” Paul Huber, professor of chemistry and biochemistry. The goal of this initiative is to develop a comprehensive program to test for the toxicity of nanoparticles.
  • “CYBER-EYE: A Cyber-Collaboratory for National Risk Modeling and Assessment to Mitigate the Impacts of Hurricanes in a Changing Climate,” Tracy Kijewski-Correa, Rooney Family Assistant Professor of Engineering. This initiative will focus on the establishment of a cyber-enabled computational community to predict and assess the impacts of hurricanes on civil infrastructure.
  • “Laboratory for Enhanced Wind Energy Design—eWind,” Thomas Corke, Clark Equipment Professor of Engineering. This initiative will be aimed at making the significant improvements in wind energy systems that are needed to meet the growing demand for clean, sustainable energy.
  • Notre Dame Collaboratory for the Study of Adaptation to Climate Change,” Jessica Hellmann, assistant professor of biological sciences. This initiative tackles the scientific, technical, and social dimensions of climate change adaptation, focusing on adaptation of biological systems.

Previous SRI project funding that engages faculty from the College of Arts and Letters includes the Center for Children and Families, Center for Social Research, Institute for Advanced Studies, Global Health, and Nanotechnology.

Additional details on the proposals selected for funding, including abstracts of the work to be performed and a full list of participating faculty, are available at

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