Research Excellence

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is home to a diverse portfolio of research, scholarly, programmatic, entrepreneurial, and outreach activities.

UWM in the News

Roger O. Smith (Occupational Science & Technology) received U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funding for development of the Access Ratings NextGen App, which he calls a “system changer.” It will allow people with disabilities and aging populations to use crowd sourcing and social networking to assess the accessibility of public community buildings.

The goal is to make this information available to people with disabilities, building proprietors, and rehabilitation professionals. UWM received $600,000 for the project, titled “Interdisciplinary Technology Instruction Program for Individualized Technology Implementation Planning,” a collaboration with Florida International University, Texas Woman’s University, and Marquette University.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Education awarded Smith a $1.22 million grant to develop an innovative training program to prepare special education and related service personnel to use assistive technology and universal design.

The five-year project includes multiple interdisciplinary UWM collaborators: the Rehabilitation Research Design and Disability (R2D2) Center, the Department of Occupational Science & Technology, the Department of Kinesiology, the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, and Exceptional Education in the School of Education.

Assistant Professor Yin Wang (Civil & Environmental Engineering) received a Department of Defense Grant in collaboration with the University of California, Riverside, to develop an innovative method to remove and destroy persistent synthetic chemical substances in groundwater.

Funding for the project, titled “Treatment of Legacy and Emerging Fluoroalkyl Contaminants in Groundwater with Integrated Approaches: Rapid and Regenerable Adsorption and UV-Induced Defluorination,” is $749,999, with $277,493 distributed to UWM. See original CEAS post.

Also, the UW-Madison Water Resources Institute (WRI) is funding research by Wang and Associate Professor Shangping Xu (UWM Department of Geosciences) that the institute says “will ultimately help protect public health by filling critical gaps in knowledge relating to arsenic in Wisconsin.

UWM earned a 2018 Campus-Wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments. The Council on Undergraduate Research annually recognizes “institutions with exemplary programs that provide high-quality research experiences for undergraduates.”

UWM has a long tradition of engaging undergraduate students in research, but over the last decade, the university has substantially expanded opportunities for collaboration between faculty and students through a wide array of programs offered through the Office of Undergraduate Research.

The award will be presented at the January meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Atlanta.

See full article on the UWM News site.

Zilber School of Public Health Assistant Professor Mustafa Hussein is leading a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded study to assess the short- and long-term effects of policies on the health and well-being of low-income adults. The two-year, approximately $250,000 study of the policies, popular in US urban areas in the mid-1990s and 2000s, is titled “Health at a Living Wage: Evidence from Natural Experiments.”

The “natural experiments” are created by the variations in timing and location of living-wage policy adoption and implementation across metropolitan areas. The team, which includes ZSPH Associate Professor Phoenix Do and UWM Department of Economics professor and chair Scott Adams, will analyze those variations in two population data sources: the Community Tracking Study, covering 60 metro areas from 1996 to 2007, and the Coronary Artery Disease Risk in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, a landmark cohort of some 5,000 young adults recruited in four major metro areas in 1986, with regular follow-up since then.

The other co-PIs are: Kiarri Kershaw, Assistant Professor, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Ana Diez Roux, Professor and Dean, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health; and James Shikany, Professor and Director, CARDIA Coordinating Center, University of Alabama Birmingham.

2018 Catalyst Grant seed funds from the UWM Research Foundation are supporting four new UWM research projects:

  • Associate Professor Han Joo Lee, Psychology: An online, self-administered, psychiatric diagnostic program.
  • Assistant Professor Mohammad Rahman, Engineering: A lightweight, powered hand-rehabilitation glove.
  • Assistant Professor Ionel Popa, Physics: A new method of purifying antibodies.
  • Professor Dazhong Zhao, Biological Sciences: A hybrid breeding system for sorghum.

The Catalyst Grant Program invests in promising early-stage research at UWM in areas where the university has the greatest potential to affect the regional economy through commercializing new technology. Now in its 11th year, the program has awarded more than $4.5 million to support 89 projects, which have led to 25 issued patents, 23 license/option agreements and more than $19 million in subsequent investments in UWM technologies. Supported by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation, the 2018 Catalyst Grants total $191,000.

For more information, contact Brian Thompson,, 414-906-4653.

The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) and Center for International Education (CIE) have each received four-year, U.S. Department of Education Title VI funding for National Resource Center (NRC) and Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship programs. UWM is among just 55 institutions nationwide to earn such grants.
CLACS, a continuously funded National Resource Center since 1965, received $600,000 in partnership with UW-Madison. The NRC funds will support research and teaching across campuses, as well as regional and national outreach programming for K-16 educators. FLAS Fellowship funding will provide scholarships for students studying the less-commonly taught languages of the Americas—Portuguese, Haitian Creole and other indigenous languages.A first-time awardee of Title VI funds, CIE received $1.8 million. The NRC portion will support faculty work—including instructor certification and course development and redesign—in less-commonly taught languages: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, and Russian. The grant also will support curriculum development in the Global Studies program and outreach programs to K-16 and technical colleges. The FLAS Fellowship funding will provide scholarships for undergraduate students pursuing studies in the less-commonly taught languages.

Distinguished Professorships

UWM Distinguished Professors have a significant impact on their fields of study. With remarkable productivity, international reputations, and glowing testimonials from peers, UWM Distinguished Professors continue to make significant scholarly contributions to their disciplines. Of the 57 professors who have achieved this status since 1973, 31 remain on the faculty, continuing their leadership role at UWM. The Office of Research also maintains information on the selection, roles, and responsibilities of UWM Distinguished Professors, and the Historical List of Distinguished Professors.

Centers, Institutes, and Laboratories

UWM is home to more than 100 centers, institutes, and laboratories. These entities conduct research and scholarship, programs, and outreach in order to contribute to the scientific, cultural, educational, and economic conditions of the campus, region, and globe. These centers, institutes, and laboratories generate millions of dollars of extramural research awards each year in order to advance the mission of each entity and the University.

The Research Growth Initiative® (RGI)

The Research Growth Initiative® is a competitive internal seed program that supports high-quality research projects in the early stages. The program’s objective is to increase UWM‘s research productivity, scholarship, creative endeavors, collaborative projects, and external funding by investing in projects selected through an independent and objective process.

Research and Creative Activities Support Awards (RACAS)

The RACAS award (formerly known as the Faculty Research and Creative Activities Support Award [FRACAS]) provides competitive support for faculty and instructional and research academic staff across the breadth of meritorious scholarship at UWM. Supported projects are expected to result in appropriate scholarly products that will increase the national and international recognition of the awardees, their programs, and the institution.