COLLEGE PARK, Md.--With an unprecedented $30 million investment, the University of Maryland (UMD) is accelerating solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems, including climate change, global health, educational disparities, racial and social injustice, threats to democracy, pandemic preparedness, sustainability and many others.
“Since day one of my presidency, I have charged our campus to tackle the grand challenges of our time by taking advantage of the brilliant work being done by our faculty and researchers across disciplines,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines. “This historic investment gives Terrapins great hope and inspiration that while the challenges we face are grand, they are not impossible.”
Through the Grand Challenges Grants Program–the largest and most comprehensive program of its kind ever introduced at UMD–a total of 50 projects encompassing disciplines all across the College Park campus were awarded funding in four categories:
3 Institutional Grants: Winners receive $3 million over 3 years
6 Impact Awards: Winners receive up to $500,000 over 2 years
16 Team Project Grants: Winners receive up to $1.5 million over 3 years
25 Individual Grants: Winners receive up to $150,000 over 3 years
"A fundamental goal of this grants program is to promote interdisciplinary work that addresses the complex problems facing humanity," said Senior Vice President and Provost Jennifer King Rice. “This collaborative approach allows us to realize novel insights and never-before-explored connections, which supports our overarching goal of creating meaningful solutions that advance the public good for our state and around the globe.”
UMD announced the Grand Challenges Grants Program last spring, putting out a call to all faculty to propose programs, initiatives and projects designed to tackle any enduring and emerging societal issues.
“Our expectations for project proposals were dramatically exceeded by the submissions coming in from all across campus—including some with partners beyond UMD,” said Vice President for Research Gregory F. Ball. “In total, they cover a kaleidoscopic array of pressing topics and societal priorities, and we can’t wait to see what our world-class researchers accomplish in the months and years ahead.”
In the category offering the highest level of funding, the Grand Challenges Institutional Grants required applicants to propose new institutional structures that catalyze cross-disciplinary collaborations around a grand challenge focus or theme. The winners of the following Grand Challenges Institutional Grants will each receive a total of $3 million over the next three years:
- Addressing Climate Change for a Sustainable Earth
Led by Ellen Williams, Distinguished University Professor of Physics, Director, Earth Systems Science Interdisciplinary Center
This initiative will provide monitoring and prediction to help protect Maryland communities from climate impacts and extreme weather, help policymakers and farmers optimize agriculture productivity and sustainability in the face of climate change, and reimagine experiential education for students.
- Global FEWture: Food-Energy-Water Solutions for a Changing Climate
Led by Amy Sapkota, MPower Professor of Environmental Health, Interim Director, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health
The Global FEWture Alliance will collaborate with international partners to scale technology-based solutions, community building, and experiential education focused at the food-energy-water-climate-health nexus to alleviate food and water insecurity, protect environmental and global public health, and bolster community resilience in a changing climate.
- Maryland Initiative for Literacy and Equity
Led by Donald Bolger, Associate Professor of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, College of Education
This initiative incorporates partnerships in the fields of education, speech and language pathology, library sciences, policy, and community stakeholder outreach to drive integrative research and promote literacy and equity for marginalized communities across race, culture, ethnicity, and language, as well as neurodiverse populations.
For more information on all of the winners of the Grand Challenges Grants, please visit research.umd.edu/gc.