Retreat to Focus on Research Centers and Institutes

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Fostering a culture of convergence research and integrating the humanities and arts with science and engineering are two of several topics that will be discussed tomorrow at the U of A Research Center Director Summer Retreat at Sassafras Springs Vineyard east of Springdale.

The retreat is co-sponsored by Daniel Sui, vice chancellor for research and innovation, and Stacy Leeds, vice chancellor for economic development.

 “The U of A research enterprise is poised for a major growth in the coming years, and the 54 research centers on campus have been instrumental in leading interdisciplinary research collaborations,” Sui said. “The goal of this retreat is to discuss some of the national research trends and develop new strategies to continue to grow UA’s research.”

To establish a context for the importance of research centers, the retreat’s morning session will focus on four recent reports by the National Academies of Sciences. In addition to fostering a culture of convergence in research and integrating arts and humanities with sciences, engineering and medicine, this session will include discussions about center-based engineering research and enhancing the effectiveness of team science.

This discussion will be led by Sui and several researchers in various colleges and schools on campus.

During the afternoon, Jennifer Taylor, assistant vice chancellor for research and director of the office of sponsored programs, will lead a session focused on best practices, opportunities and challenges associated with the operation of a research center or institute, and Brian Primack, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions, will discuss new strategies to improve and elevate the university’s research center/institute operation.

The University of Arkansas has 54 research centers and institutes spread across campus. Investigators within these units are working on diverse topics such as space and planetary sciences, terrorism, exercise, water resources, electric power transmission and many more.

Below is a complete agenda for the retreat:

  • 9 to 9:15 a.m. – participants arrival (coffee/light snack)
  • 9:15 to 9:30 a.m. – Overview of the Retreat (Daniel Sui and Stacy Leeds)
  • 9:30 to noon – setting the scene – group discussion on four recent reports by the National Academies of Sciences
    • Fostering the Culture of Convergence in Research: Proceedings of a Workshop (2019) / discussion co-leaders: Daniel Sui and Heather Nachtmann
    •  A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research (2017) / discussion co-leaders of the discussion: Bob Beitle, professor and associate vice chancellor for research and innovation; and Min Zou, professor of mechanical engineering
    •  Branches from the Same Tree: The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education  (2018) / discussion co-leaders: Adrienne Callander, assistant professor of art and entrepreneurship; and Doug Behrend, professor and chair of the Department of Psychological Science
    • Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science (2015) / discussion co-leaders: Larry Roe, associate professor of mechanical engineering; and Sarah Goforth, executive director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation 
  • Noon to 1 p.m. – networking lunch
  • 1 to 2:30 p.m. – running a research center/institute: best practices, opportunities, and challenges / lightning talk by Jennifer Taylor
  • 2:30 to 2:45 p.m. – break
  • 2:45 to 4:15 p.m. – new strategies to improve/elevate UA’s research center/institute operation / lightning talk by Brian Primack
  • 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. – networking reception

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 2.7 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Daniel Sui, vice chancellor for research and innovation
Research and Innovation

Matt McGowan, science and research communications officer
University Relations


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