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USC invests in SC’s future with 5 new research institutes

New institutes to advance innovation in key areas including infectious disease mitigation, STEM education and the quality of South Carolina’s water

The University of South Carolina will invest $10 million over the next four years in five new interdisciplinary research institutes that will address some of the Palmetto State’s biggest challenges, including health, education and water quality.

Each of the new research institutes will receive $500,000 per year over four years from USC’s Research Institutes Funding Program. The institutes will be led by multidisciplinary teams of research faculty focusing on innovative solutions to problems in South Carolina and beyond. Along with new breakthroughs, the institutes have the potential to bring future funding and prosperity to the state in the form of major federal grants and commercialization opportunities.

“These projects truly represent what a flagship research university does best: bring together experts from multiple disciplines to take on some of the biggest scientific and societal challenges of our time. I congratulate all the researchers involved and thank them for their dedication to our critical mission,” USC President Michael Amiridis said.

The institutes, which were competitively selected, will include faculty from seven different USC colleges and represent a wide range of research expertise, said Julius Fridriksson, USC’s Vice President for Research.

“The highest impact research today involves leveraging multiple perspectives, skillsets and areas of expertise to come up with the most comprehensive possible understanding of or solution to a significant issue. These institutes hold great promise as both centers of innovation and a major investment in the bright future of interdisciplinary research at USC,” Fridriksson said.

The institutes are:


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USC Institute for Rural Education and Development

The institute will seek better ways to teach math, science and engineering (STEM) to rural students across the state. Researchers will focus on early grades with an emphasis on developing a holistic approach to teaching STEM. 

Director: Matthew Irvin, College of Education

Other participating colleges: College of Arts Sciences, School of Medicine Columbia





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USC Institute for Extreme Semiconductor Chips

The institute will work to develop more powerful and efficient electronic and optical microchips which can be used for the electric grid, electric vehicles, aircraft and advanced health care applications. The development of homegrown computer chips also has been identified as an important national security priority. 

Director: Asif Khan, College of Engineering and Computing

Other participating colleges: Arnold School of Public Health, Darla Moore School of Business.





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USC Institute for Infectious Disease Translational Research

The institute will study emerging diseases that have the potential to develop into major public health threats, especially those spread by insects and those transferred from mother to child.

Director: Melissa Nolan, Arnold School of Public Health

Other participating colleges: College of Arts and Sciences, School of Medicine Columbia, College of Engineering and Computing





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USC Institute for Clean Water

The institute will explore novel ways to monitor water quality to ensure safe drinking water and to protect South Carolina’s waterways for use by humans and wildlife alike. 

Director: Tammi Richardson, College of Arts and Sciences

Other participating colleges: College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management; College of Engineering and Computing.




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USC Institute for Cardiovascular Disease Research

The institute will study the ways in which chronic stress leads to a host of physical ailments, including heart and kidney disease. The research could eventually lead to the development of new treatments for heart disease.  

Director: Clinton Webb, School of Medicine Columbia

Other participating colleges: College of Engineering and Computing