Our Grand Challenges are Moonshots
Bridging Barriers is a Research Development Initiative that serves as an incubator for high-impact interdisciplinary projects at The University of Texas at Austin. We achieve this by supporting researchers from across the Forty Acres as they form broad teams tasked with identifying urgent issues — and figuring out the best way to solve them in less than a decade. UT researchers are partnering with communities, nonprofits, local government agencies, and industry leaders to design solutions that have real-world impact.
Explore the Bridging Barriers Grand Challenges
Planet Texas 2050
Adapting to Thrive
Texas’ population is on track to double by 2050. Climate change will bring more floods, more droughts and more heat. Acute and chronic stressors have compound and cascading impacts that disproportionately affect vulnerable communities. Finding equitable solutions that make Texas more resilient is our grand challenge.
Whole Communities–Whole Health
Designing Community-Centered Research
When it comes to life expectancy, ZIP code continues to matter more than genetic code. Our cohort study, co-designed with community members, will give us vital physical and mental health information. Changing the way science helps society thrive is our grand challenge.
Building Values-Driven AI
Artificial intelligence-based technologies are helping us solve complex problems in nearly every discipline and industry, but they have the capacity to be harmful to us in ways we might not predict or intend. Designing AI technologies that benefit society is our grand challenge.
AI technologies can help build smarter cities by using data to improve services, such as public safety, transit systems, and emergency response. They can also help us evaluate how new infrastructure, such as public transportation lines, will affect access to housing, jobs, and public services.
Planet Texas 2050
Working with frontline communities allows us to better understand the effects that carbon emissions have on health, as well as the challenges and opportunities behind decarbonization.
Older adults are especially vulnerable to believing and circulating disinformation online, and we want to enable this population to use social media more responsibly.
Bridging Barriers Support Team
Bridging Barriers is an initiative of the Office of the Vice President for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Endeavors.
Jennifer Lyon GardnerDeputy Vice President for Research
Tessa GreenExecutive Director, Collaborative Research Engagement
Clinton LeysathWhole Communities–Whole Health Program Director
Lea SabatiniGood Systems Program Director
Heidi SchmalbachPlanet Texas 2050 Program Director
Shirene GarciaSenior Outreach Program Coordinator
Stacey Ingram KalehNetwork Relationship Manager
Jonathan LowellEngagements and Programs Coordinator
Cinda ChristianResearch Development Officer