Studies of ecological change and inland waters among UW2020: WARF Discovery Initiative proposals selected

April 7, 2016

Two research projects led by and including Nelson Institute faculty affiliates are among 14 highly innovative initiatives chosen for the first round of funding by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education for the UW2020: WARF Discovery Initiative.

Sifting through 134 proposals from across the UW-Madison campus, reviewers identified ambitious, early stage research ideas and infrastructure investments in an effort to jump-start innovative interdisciplinary research projects.

“We have been inspired by the research ideas that have been put forward,” says Marsha Mailick, UW-Madison vice chancellor for research and graduate education. “The goal of UW2020 is to support projects that could ultimately transform a field, solve a long-standing problem, contribute to social policy or launch a key new technology. We think we’re off to a fantastic start.”

The two projects involving Nelson Institute faculty are:

  • Anticipating Abrupt Ecological Change in the 21st Century, including co-principal investigators Stephen Carpenter, Director of the Center for Limnology and Stephen Alfred Forbes Professor of Zoology; Christopher Kucharik, professor of agronomy and environmental studies; and Jack Williams, Director of the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research and Romnes Professor of geography. This project will develop new theoretical and mathematical approaches to establish a broadly applicable framework for understanding ecological change.
  • Seeing the Hydroscape: Developing a New Approach for the Study of Inland Waters, led by principal investigator Emily Stanley, a professor with the Department of Zoology and Center for Limnology, which aims to fundamentally expand capacity to generate detailed, spatially-explicit, real-time observations of surface water quality, and then provide the technology to aquatic researchers at UW-Madison and beyond. 

Underwritten by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), UW2020 will support selected projects with an average award of about $300,000 over two years. Included in the allocation for most research projects will be support from the UW–Madison Graduate School to cover a graduate student assistantship.

WARF is providing $5 million in support of the first year of the UW2020 initiative. In addition to the first round of 134 proposals, a second round of nearly 120 projects have been submitted and are under review.

“We are very excited about the potential of UW2020,” notes WARF Managing Director Carl Gulbrandsen. “We think the university has identified projects that are truly innovative and forward-looking in terms of addressing big research challenges. That was the idea when the program was laid out.”

View the full list of funded projects, and learn more about the UW2020 initiative.


Co- Principal Investigators