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University of Wisconsin–Madison

UW2020: WARF Discovery Initiative welcomes a new round of awards supporting faculty research at UW–Madison

Seventeen innovative projects on such diverse topics as personalizing diabetes prevention and treatment, transforming wood into a renewable electronic material, improving outcomes for incarcerated parents and their children, advancing the frontier of fusion energy sciences, and establishing a LandLab Institute and a forecast-based flood and health disaster preparedness system, have been chosen to join the UW2020: WARF Discovery Initiative cohort.

These projects, with an average award amount of $432,442 were chosen from 111 proposals submitted from across the UW–Madison campus. The initiative is funded by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

This is the fourth round of UW2020 project selections and brings the total UW2020 projects to 66, since the first round awards were announced in 2016. The awards this round include six infrastructure projects and 11 research projects that cross multiple divisions on campus.

The projects were reviewed by faculty from across the university, ultimately involving 102 reviewers. Funded projects include 125 faculty and academic staff investigators on the project teams from 10 schools and colleges.

The UW2020 Council, a group of 17 faculty from all divisions of the university, evaluated the merits of each project based on the reviews and their potential for making significant contributions to their field of study.

The goal of UW2020 is to stimulate and support cutting edge, highly innovative and groundbreaking research at UW–Madison and the acquisition of shared instruments or equipment that will open new avenues for innovative and significant research.

“While previous rounds of UW2020 projects are now maturing and realizing their potential, we are excited to infuse the initiative with a new class of inspiring and novel projects that continue to showcase UW–Madison’s highly competitive and forward-thinking world-class faculty and staff researchers,” says Norman Drinkwater, interim vice chancellor for research and graduate education. “UW–Madison remains very grateful to WARF for continuing to support and partner with us on this initiative.”

The Graduate School also is supplying direct support for some research assistants.

Please see a list of projects below.

Research Projects


Advancing CRISPR-mediated Genome Editing Technology at UW–Madison to Model Human Disease

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Anjon Audhya, Associate Professor of Biomolecular Chemistry


All-Optical Electrophysiology-Electrophysiology without Electrodes

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Baron Chanda, Associate Professor of Neuroscience


Building a Translational Research Pipeline to Personalize Diabetes Prevention and Treatment

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Elizabeth Cox, Associate Professor of Pediatrics


Communication Ecologies, Political Contention, and Democratic Crisis

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Lewis Friedland, Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication


Development of a Forecast-based Flood and Health Risk Management System to Support Advanced Disaster Preparedness

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Paul Block, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Gene Editing Nanomedicines to Correct Pathogenic Mutations in Retinal Pigmented Epithelium

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Krishanu Saha, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery



Improving Outcomes for Incarcerated Parents and their Children through Enhanced Jail Visits

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, Professor of Human Ecology and Affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty, the Center for Child and Family Well-being and the Center for Healthy Minds.


Instrument Development to Study the Highest Energy Photons in the Universe

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Justin Vandenbroucke, Assistant Professor of Physics


Maternal Breathing Dysfunction during Pregnancy Increases Risk for Psychiatric Disorders in Her Offspring: A Paradigm-Shifting Concept

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Tracy Baker, Associate Professor of Comparative Biosciences


Toxoplasma Infection and Brain Function

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Meyer Jackson, Professor of Neuroscience


Transforming Wood into a Green, Renewable Electronic Material

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Michael Arnold, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering


Infrastructure Projects


Accelerating Lead Optimization to Clinical Application Using Microscale Thermophoresis to Quantify Molecular Interactions

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Weiping Tang, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences


Acquisition of an Illumina NovaSeq Next Generation DNA Sequencer for UW–Madison

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Michael Sussman, Professor of Biochemistry and Director of the Biotechnology Center


Data Science Hub for UW–Madison

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Brian Yandell, Professor of Statistics


Fusion Energy Research at the Next Frontier: Integrating Optimized Plasma Confinement with Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: David Anderson, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering


State-of-the-Art, Reactive-Ion-Etching Instrument for Nanofabrication of Devices at UW–Madison

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Luke Mawst, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering


The LandLab Institute-a Place for Ecological Solutions to Land Use Problems

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Randall Jackson, Professor of Agronomy