Chancellor Douglas A. Girod

Message: Innovation in action

Monday, October 24, 2016

The mission of the University of Kansas is to educate leaders, build healthy communities and make discoveries that change the world. Later this week, we have an opportunity to see all aspects of this mission on display in a special way.

This Friday, I will host the second annual KU Elevate: Innovation in Action, a TED Talk-style showcase of research and innovation at KU, from 9-11 a.m. at the National Center for Aviation Training in Wichita. The event is designed to give Wichita business and community leaders the opportunity to hear from four KU faculty who are improving lives, creating new technologies and helping us better understand our world through their trailblazing research.

The four faculty – Paul Atchley, Tracie Collins, Chris Depcik and Kristi Neufeld – will discuss their research with an emphasis on how their work is benefiting individuals, communities and society.

Paul Atchley, professor of psychology, will deliver a talk titled, “Driving yourself to distraction: The hidden perils of technology.”

Dr. Tracie Collins, professor and chair of preventive medicine and public health, will present a talk titled, “The privilege gap: African-American health disparities.”

Chris Depcik, associate professor of mechanical engineering, will discuss his work in a presentation titled, “Optimizing for the now: Alternative fuels.”

And Kristi Neufeld, professor of molecular biosciences, will present, “Go with your gut: The study of tumor-suppressing proteins.”

Additionally, KU Elevate will feature a presentation from special guest Marco Villa, president and chief operating officer for Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, a worldwide provider of nanosatellite and microsatellite technology. A proud KU School of Engineering alumnus, Marco has had a fascinating and successful career in aerospace engineering, a topic of particular interest to our guests from south-central Kansas.

There are a few seats remaining for the event, so if you’d like to attend, please RSVP at For those of you not able to attend, we will livestream the event at the KU Elevate webpage. We will also post video of the presentations after the event.

Those of you familiar with Professors Atchley, Collins, Depcik and Neufeld are likely already inspired by their research, creativity and optimism. The work they’re doing – like the work so many of you are doing – embodies the University of Kansas’ special role in improving our society and world.

KU Elevate is just one of many ways we recognize and celebrate research being done across the university. Another way is the University Scholarly Achievement Award, which each year recognizes four standout KU scholars who have made significant scholarly or research contributions to their field. If you haven’t done so, please take a moment to consider nominating an exceptional faculty member for this year’s award. The deadline is November 18.

As I’ve often said, we are a community of diverse scholars doing work across the spectrum of academic disciplines, but we are united in our pursuit of knowledge and our obligation to share it with the society we serve.

Thank you for being part of our mission.


Bernadette Gray-Little

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
Chancellor's Vision

The mission of the University of Kansas is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world.

We will do that by raising the expectations we have for ourselves, the aspirations we have for our state, and the hopes we have for our world.