Taubman College Faculty Receive Bold Challenges Funding For Interdisciplinary Research

Taubman College Assistant Professor Mania Aghaei Meibodi and Lecturer Irene Hwang have been awarded funding from the University of Michigan Bold Challenges’ Accelerate Program to explore innovative, interdisciplinary research projects.

Bold Challenges, based in the U-M Office of the Vice President for Research, launched its Accelerate Program last year to support the preliminary work needed to prepare for submitting proposals that have the potential to establish future initiatives and centers at U-M focused on the global challenges facing societies.

Meibodi is the principal investigator of an interdisciplinary team exploring Smart Robotic Additive Architecture and Construction. Through her research into multi-robot 3D printing, Meibodi works to enhance standard 3D printing practices for construction, making the process more efficient and cost-effective. Her approach to 3D printing methods has strong potential to sustainably transform the industry.

Hwang is the principal investigator of an interdisciplinary research project titled Broadening the Research Enterprise: Inter-Institutional Research Capacity Building, Access, and Collaboration. Hwang’s research investigates the impact of architectural thinking and making on society. She leads collaborative endeavors to convert architecture from a rarefied good and service into a basic human right.

Meibodi and Hwang’s projects are among eight interdisciplinary initiatives from across U-M to receive more than $700,000 from the Accelerate Program to explore innovative research that addresses a wide range of societal challenges.

Researchers use the Bold Challenges funding to cover costs associated with preliminary data collection, technical writers, workshops, and support salaries. In addition to financial support, participants receive in-kind support, including team facilitation, project management, graphic design support, and proposal development and review.

Accelerate teams target grant values at least 25 times the funding they receive. The current cohort is writing proposals for grants ranging from $650,000 to $20 million from various organizations, including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Belmont Forum, and the Wellcome Trust.

“The current cohort of Accelerate researchers are advancing research related to some of the most difficult challenges affecting communities across the globe,” said Arthur Lupia, U-M’s interim vice president for research and innovation. “Their work, and the support provided by Bold Challenges, exemplifies the ambitious, interdisciplinary projects the initiative aims to bolster.”

Accelerate applications are accepted on a rolling basis from teams that will soon be or are currently seeking large-scale funding opportunities. Applications for the 2024 cycle of Boost, the Bold Challenges program designed to connect and support researchers in the preliminary stages of large-scale projects, are due May 13.