From the Vice President for Research

Photo of Amr Elnashai

Welcome to the digital edition of the University of Houston Division of Research magazine, The Big Idea. While many people enjoy physical publications, many others have gone fully digital. We will continue to do our best for all our readers from our alumni, colleagues, UH friends and our community at large to continue our dialogue ...and ideas-sharing.

While many lament the challenges that we faced during the past 18 months, our Division looks at these challenges as opportunities for resilience development and for innovation. We have learned new models of communication and collaboration. We now have the opportunity to select the most effective C and C model for a given set of circumstances and expected outcomes. I was not amongst those who pictured a ‘new normal’. This does not mean that we will return to exactly the workplace ecosystem that we departed from around February-March of 2020. How many articles were written, and appreciated by readers, about the end of face-to-face higher education. At the time, I likened this to the hundreds of articles that declared the death of classroom instruction when the MOOCs movement started. Nothing of the sort happened. We are social creatures who thrive on face-to-face communication and collaboration. We can all see that, come Fall 2021, it is likely that we will re-embrace the immersive educational and research experience that we have refined over decades of practice.

Our community inside and outside of UH has exhibited superior levels of resilience and adaptability during the virus crisis. And we now refocus on addressing our long-standing challenges of accessible healthcare sans virus but also learn the necessary lessons from the virus to increase our resilience in combating the flu and future infectious disease. With every passing day we are reminded of the challenges our society continues to face in cybersecurity, in managing natural and human-induced hazards, in discerning the quality of news, data and information, in equity and inclusion, in achieving energy sustainability and in strengthening our social fabric as a nation.

This issue of The Big Idea grapples with some of the above challenges and offers thought-provoking insights that are intended to enrich and broaden our perspectives, and therefore aiding the convergence to solutions that address the core challenges.

I invite you to explore the ideas we bring you in The Big Idea and the multitude of stories we present. I welcome your feedback on these articles, which explore some of the most pressing issues of our time. I sincerely hope that you continue to be in good health as you and your colleagues begin to transition back to campus in the coming weeks.

Amr Elnashai
Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer

The Perils of Open Science

The Perils of Open Science

By Claudia Neuhauser, Ph.D. and Brian Herman, Ph.D.

Art in Flux

Art In Flux

By Sarah F. Hill

From Mars Simulations to Spaceship Earth

From Mars Simulations to Spaceship Earth

By Tim Holt

Universities Step Up Research for Racial Equity and
						Social Change

Universities Step Up Research for Racial Equity and Social Change

By Sarah F. Hill

Funny You Should Ask

Funny You Should Ask: Is there really “No place like home?”

By Sarah F. Hill

In Praise of Frivolous Questions

In Praise of Frivolous Questions

By John Lienhard, Ph.D.

About The Big Idea

So what’s The Big Idea?

As communicators new to the world of research administration, we were curious about the many issues faced by university research operations and how to better communicate them to our campus community.

We had a lot of questions. Answers led to more questions. Then we discovered that many of the challenges and opportunities we have at the University of Houston are experienced by research offices across the country.

So we decided to write about it.

We launched The Big Idea in hopes of sparking a conversation about the business of research. We hope you enjoy the blog posts and maybe learn a thing or two. We certainly did. If you’re curious about certain topics or want to contribute, please join the conversation.

Visit The Big Idea blog.