Excellence in Research: From Collaboration to Transformation

Issue Date: 
September 7, 2010

One of the primary ways in which the University of Pittsburgh continues to build on its strengths as one of the nation’s leading public research universities is by striving for excellence in research. While the University has long been noted for the excellence of its discipline-based research and scholarship, one of Pitt’s achievements also has been the development over time of an environment in which teams of eminent researchers are encouraged to work together on major challenges.

Working from a position of strength in the disciplines and reaching beyond traditional research boundaries to create academic partnerships help Pitt fulfill its mission as a research university: to advance learning by extending the frontiers of knowledge and creative endeavor. Because key questions often occur at the intersection of various disciplines, it is increasingly important for researchers to work in teams to try to answer these complex questions.

The Excellence in Research series that will be published monthly in the Pitt Chronicle, beginning today, will highlight these kinds of collaborative endeavors. Specifically, the series will explore the broad multidisciplinary research categories in which Pitt is a leader or is positioning itself as a leader.

It takes a large number of researchers—sometimes working together, sometimes separately, but all aware of one another’s work—to define a leadership position. To facilitate that kind of collaboration, Pitt has created a number of new cross-disciplinary, cross-school centers in recent years in such areas as energy, simulation and modeling, and global health, to name a few.

Infrastructure investments also contribute to the progress of the University’s research programs, with a number of major capital projects helping to foster multidisciplinary research, including: the Biomedical Science Tower 3, a model of functional, flexible laboratory space; the addition and ongoing renovations to the Chevron Science Center that will advance research in chemistry, including collaborative work in drug discovery; the addition to and continuing renovations of Benedum Hall to advance engineering research with a focus on energy, sustainability, and nanotechnology; and the current renovations to the mid-campus complex with a focus on basic and applied research in physics and geology, including nanoscience. Other important projects for research include additions to and renovations in Clapp/Langley/Crawford Halls and future work in Salk Hall and in Parran/Crabtree Halls, all of which play a critical part in our continued pursuit of excellence in research.

Why is multidisciplinary research of value to us as a university? Because it further enhances the conditions that allow teaching and learning, research and discovery to flourish. It is not only the quality of the faculty that makes a university great; it is also the quality of their interactions with each other and with their students. Leading-edge scholarship and the growth of knowledge depend upon discussion and debate, incorporating multiple perspectives, theories, and approaches. Pitt is uniquely positioned to do this kind of collaborative research, fostering excellence throughout our academic community.