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Update: Cluster Hires and Grand Challenges

Last semester we began establishing transdisciplinary research clusters that will enhance the university’s reputation for research excellence and address challenges facing the state of Tennessee and society at large.

This effort—championed by Chancellor Beverly Davenport and coordinated by Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Robert Nobles and me—echoes a nationwide movement through which universities are using their intellectual capital and research infrastructure to address 21st-century grand challenges.

This past fall, we announced that our first cluster hire would be in the area of data sciences. We’re now calling for proposals for two additional clusters.

Update on Data Sciences Cluster Hire

The Data Science Task Force received eight pre-proposals for the first cluster hire and selected six to be presented to our partners at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After several discussions with ORNL and a meeting with the principal investigators of the six selected pre-proposals, it became apparent that further discussions between the campus and ORNL are necessary before moving forward with the data sciences initiative. We anticipate that those discussions will begin within the next week, and we will keep the campus updated on their progress.

Proposals Sought for Two Additional Clusters

We are now soliciting proposals for two additional research clusters. There are no restrictions with regard to focus areas for these clusters, and all those who submitted to the data sciences cluster are invited to resubmit their proposals to this open call.

Proposals are due by 5 p.m. on March 21.

View the RFP and use the proposal form provided here.

A review committee of faculty recommended by the college deans and the Office of Research and Engagement will review the proposals and make recommendations. We hope to notify the applicants whose proposals have been approved no later than May 1.

If you have questions about the proposal process, email us at using the subject line “Question on Open Topic Cluster Hire Pre-Proposal.”

More information about our cluster hire and grand challenge initiatives