We believe in knowledge with purpose. We do not just deepen understanding; we apply it to the world’s thorniest challenges. We find innovative ways to approach problems old and new alike. We explore the pages of history to inform our vision of the future.

We are combining all our strengths, because we are not content with being an either-or institution. Our faculty are scholars and teachers. Our students are learners and researchers. We do imperative research and turn it into real-world solutions.

From bridging the partisan divide, to investigating the potential benefits and risks of new technologies, we are using our scholarship to improve the human condition. Because nothing motivates us more than making an impact.

Transforming Science Research into Results

As the new Hall of Science continues to rise over AU’s bustling campus, so does the university’s reputation for research. The facility, slated to open in June 2020, is a fitting symbol of AU’s evolution as a leader in the realms of scientific discovery.

The Hall of Science will bring researchers, policymakers, and communicators together to translate new science knowledge into actions that make an impact on a global scale. A $5 million gift from Board of Trustees member Gary Abramson, SPA/BA ’68, and his wife, Pennie Abramson, kicked off a $40 million fundraising campaign for the hall.

The building’s 95,000-square-foot gross floor area expands on the university’s synergistic science culture by creating functional lab groupings that cluster scholars together, rather than hosting a collection of individual laboratories. With a focus on interdisciplinary solutions, researchers will deploy state-of-the-art spaces and equipment to tackle pressing problems like cancer, dementia, climate change, obesity, and environmental degradation.

The hall will attract an influx of esteemed scientists and give students greater opportunities to work on innovative research with expert faculty—a unique attribute made possible by AU’s medium size and deeply collaborative spirit.

Construction on AU's new Hall of Science

Catalyst for Discovery

The Hall of Science will soon be home to innovative work at AU, taking this high-caliber research even higher.

Finding Political Common Ground

Amy K. Dacey, Sine Institute Executive Director

The Sine Institute of Policy and Politics aims to change the tone and outcome of political discourse. With a focus on finding common ground, experts and scholars join forces on AU’s campus to shape policy through bipartisan solutions.

Established in 2018, the Sine Institute is an incubator for policy innovation and a convener of the best minds in the nation’s public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

The institute leverages AU’s DC location to connect diverse perspectives at this nexus of government and policy and growing international business center.

Executive Director Amy K. Dacey has been a leader in policy, politics, and civics education for over two decades. Sine Institute Fellows work with experts, faculty, and students to uncover new ways to inform cross-sectoral policy solutions. The inaugural class includes governors, political commentators, former CEOs, and a playwright.

Leading Scholarship on Race and Commerce

Sonya Grier

Kogod marketing professor Sonya Grier is blazing a research trail in a growing field of study about issues at the intersection of race and markets.

Grier has pioneered work on how policymakers view target marketing and the implications for interventions to address the health and well-being of minorities.

She is coeditor of the 2019 book Race in the Marketplace: Crossing Critical Boundaries, a compendium of scholarship from multiple disciplines on the impact of race in various markets such as retail, education, housing, advertising, marketing, health care, and food products on minority consumers’ quality of life.

She cofounded the Race in the Marketplace Research Network to encourage global collaboration among scholars from a variety of disciplines on issues related to race and markets. She has organized two forums for the network, the first held at AU in 2017 and another in Paris in 2019.

Study Looks at Climate Change from the Top

Michael Alonzo

In a first-of-its-kind study, environmental science professor Michael Alonzo is using satellite imagery to determine how Washington, DC, tree species, like maples, oaks, and cherries, are responding to climate change.

Alonzo and several student researchers, including Melissa Knapp, CAS/MS ’19, and Avery Williams, CAS/MS ’21, utilize inexpensive satellites called cubesats to obtain weekly images of individual tree crowns in high-traffic areas of the nation’s capital. Over multiple years, these images will allow the researchers to observe heat-related variability in the tree life cycle of leaf growing and shedding.

Information from the study will be critical in helping nonprofits like Casey Trees and DC’s Urban Forestry Administration determine optimal planting locations for each tree species.

“It also gives a window—because urban areas are warmer—into what changes we are looking forward to in rural environments that have not yet warmed as much as cities have,” Alonzo says.

First Madison Prize Honors Bipartisanship

Senators Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander with Vicky Wilkins

Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) are the inaugural recipients of SPA’s Madison Prize for Constitutional Excellence. The award recognizes lawmakers who strive for legislative comprise in the same spirit outlined by James Madison in “Federalist No. 10”.

Murray and Alexander were honored for their bipartisan collaboration on the Faster Access to Federal Student Aid Act, which simplifies the student financial aid application and loan repayment processes, and the 21st Century Cures and SUPPORT Acts that advance medical innovation and confront the opioid epidemic.

“We’re thankful for the example they both set for the leaders of tomorrow, in our classrooms today, and the nation as a whole,” says President Sylvia M. Burwell.

Awarded at the end of each biennial congressional session to a member from each major political party, the prize is made possible through a gift by former congressman David Skaggs (D-CO) and his wife, Laura Skaggs.

Ibram X. Kendi

Top Scholar on Racism Wins Guggenheim

CAS and SIS professor Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow. During his fellowship, Kendi is writing his next book, tentatively titled Bones of Inequity: A Narrative History of Racist Policies in America. He released his latest book, How To Be an Antiracist, in August. A leading scholar on racism, Kendi is an award-winning historian, a New York Times bestselling author, and a columnist at the Atlantic.

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data science grid

Tackling the Big Issues of Big Data

So great are changes wrought by technology that AU has made data science and analytics one of its areas of strategic focus and created two new research centers. SPA’s Center for Data Science focuses on the theoretical and practical research aspects of computer technology, software engineering, computer architecture, artificial intelligence, simulation, and modeling. SIS’s Center for Security, Innovation, and New Technology is among few dedicated to assessing both the harm and good of new technologies.

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training on the art of rhetoric and social change in Istanbul, Turkey

Fighting Sexual Assault in Syria

A new WCL program aims to end the stigma, silence, and suffering around sexual assault in the Middle East. Funded by a $1.76 million State Department grant, the Syrian Initiative to Combat Sexual and Gender-Based Violence is the first program of its kind housed at a US university. The center provides victim advocates with psychosocial support and improves documentation practices to hold perpetrators accountable. In June 2019, it hosted a five-day training seminar in Turkey for 36 advocates.

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Kogod Regional Innovation Fund event

First Business Innovation Chair

Brett Anitra Gilbert has been installed as the inaugural Kogod Regional Innovation Chair, made possible by the generosity of trustee emeritus Robert P. Kogod, Kogod/BS ’62, Hon. LLD ’00, and Arlene R. Kogod. The chair is part of the Kogod Regional Innovation Fund that connects AU to the business community and supports research on regional economies. “Donors like the Kogods create an enduring legacy, ensuring AU is home to exceptional thought leaders,” says Provost Daniel J. Myers.

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Arianna Lopez and Monika Konaklieva in lab

From the Track to the Chemistry Lab

Track athlete and biochemistry major Arianna Lopez, CAS/BS ’20, has teamed up with chemistry professor Monika Konaklieva to develop new small molecule modulators of lipid enzymes, intended to increase HDL levels and limit plaque buildup in the body (cardiovascular) and brain (Alzheimer’s disease). “It’s organic synthesis slash medicinal chemistry,” Konaklieva says. Grants from NASA and AU have enabled Lopez to spend consecutive summers in Konaklieva’s lab, where her research has resulted in several lead compounds.

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David Haaga

Exemplifying the Scholar-Teacher Ideal

CAS psychology department chair David Haaga is the 2019 Scholar-Teacher of the Year for conducting innovative research and offering crucial guidance in the classroom. The clinical psychology professor has coauthored more than 130 peer-reviewed articles on depression, smoking cessation, trichotillomania, Type A behavior, anxiety, binge eating, and empirical support for therapies. “He is an extraordinarily prolific and rigorous scholar, an inspiring teacher, a generous mentor, a natural leader, a skilled clinician, and just a kind person,” say four colleagues in their nomination.

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camille nelson

A Top Woman in Higher Ed

Washington College of Law dean Camille Nelson is among the top 35 women in higher education, according to Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine. She is the only law school dean on the list. “I am honored to be included among these outstanding professionals who are as accomplished as they are inspirational,” Nelson says. Nelson joined WCL in 2016—the first woman to lead this college founded by women since 1947 and its first African American dean.

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torch at the statue of liberty museum

Bearing the Torch of History

Distinguished Professor of History Alan Kraut led a team of 14 historians tasked with planning and laying out the new Statue of Liberty Museum. Kraut, who has chaired the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation’s history advisory committee since 2003, and his team vetted every image, caption, and primary source appearing in the museum, which opened in May 2019. The $100 million, 26,000-square-foot space is the latest attraction on an island that welcomes 4.5 million annual visitors.

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