Iowa State College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Research

The art of discovery

Scientific, scholarly and creative endeavors make the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences a research powerhouse. Everyday our faculty, staff and students help shape the future through innovative and interdisciplinary research.

The results are new knowledge, creative outcomes and novel perspectives of our changing world. Fundamental research is central to the college’s mission, generating knowledge that will become the basis for tomorrow’s advances and solutions to real-world problems.

Indeed, the art of discovery permeates the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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Signature themes

Building on existing strengths, LAS will become a national leader in selected research areas and continue to provide innovative leadership in pedagogy and curriculum development for our students. Research and learning will become integrated activities as faculty continue to broaden their expertise and students contribute to research. Five “signature themes” will define the college’s scholarly vision and identity and provide a framework for faculty hiring and collaborations.

In addition to these themes, we will continue to strengthen strategic disciplinary areas and address critical departmental needs. We will also periodically review these themes.

Faculty working in the signature areas are expected to be highly collaborative across disciplinary boundaries and able to integrate fundamental discoveries with technological solutions and societal needs. The opportunities to identify and attract such scholars are excellent: many of the young researchers who are beginning to enter the academic job market have been trained in highly interdisciplinary environments and expect to find or develop similar structures in their future work place. LAS will encourage the hiring of such individuals by forming interdisciplinary search committees. Once the new hires have arrived on campus, LAS will encourage the formation of teams and collaborations through a variety of seed funding for seminars, topical workshops, grant writing support, and leadership development. High performance standards will be set for effective teaching, strong output of scholarly work, and success in garnering external funding or recognition.

The boundaries between the five themes are fluid and open, and numerous potential collaborations are possible, beyond the ones described below. Partnerships with other colleges, the Ames Laboratory, and private entities will leverage resources and add complementary expertise. A solid research infrastructure and various “enabling tools,” such as computational modeling, statistical and visualization software, or imaging and spectroscopy will support and guide work in all areas. Excellence in exploiting these “tools” already exists in the college and on campus and will be strengthened further through these hires. Strategic investments will be proposed to provide the high quality infrastructure and space necessary to attract and retain top researchers.

The description of each theme is intentionally brief. Rather than giving a detailed list of current and future activities, we paint with broad strokes. This approach allows for flexibility and creativity as departments develop proposals within this framework.

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