Bridging Barriers

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In 2016, The University of Texas at Austin research enterprise launched a long-term university-wide research program with one clear objective: To bring together its experts — across each of the colleges, schools and units at UT — to leverage its collective strength and foster research that addresses the toughest questions facing the world. Unlike other notable grand challenge initiatives, UT’s Bridging Barriers has been designed solely by UT researchers and their graduate students.

The program serves as an incubator for some of the boldest cross-disciplinary UT projects by supporting researchers as they form broad teams tasked with identifying urgent, real-world issues and figuring out the best way to solve them in less than a decade.

Co-led by engineering researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering, Bridging Barriers’ two launched initiatives — Planet Texas 2050 and Whole Communities – Whole Health — are rooted in collaboration and academic freedom to produce practical solutions to social, environmental and humanitarian crises. From artificial intelligence to social inequality, teams around campus are laying the groundwork today for what could become a UT Grand Challenge tomorrow.

Planet Texas 2050

Developing programs and policy recommendations that will improve adaptability and build resilience in Texas and beyond. The research team will focus on understanding the interconnectedness of four critical resource systems: water, energy, urbanization and ecosystem services.

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Whole Communities – Whole Health

Creating cutting-edge advances in behavioral and health science to reach the children and families who need them most. The research team will focus on advancements in four areas: biology, technology, environment and behavior.

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