Research Excellence

Research Excellence

As a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), the UO is one of the top 32 public research universities in the nation—a distinction we share with Virginia, Berkeley, and Michigan. We’re one of two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest, and the only one in Oregon.

It’s in our nature to innovate and to collaborate—across campus and across disciplines, with regional and global partners. By uniting different research areas and leveraging resources, we create highly effective teams that seek answers to humanity’s biggest questions.



Data Science

Effective, high-performance tools and techniques for analyzing data are crucial to research—for UO faculty, as well as our corporate partners. And data science skills are increasingly important to the industries that employ our graduates.

In 2017, the university launched a major initiative to accelerate data science. Led by one of our top researchers, this interdisciplinary effort is rapidly strengthening our capacity to interpret large amounts of data.

We’re hiring faculty members, creating programs, and finding new ways to strategically unite and support areas of excellence across campus—and Oregon. For example, the UO and Oregon Health & Science University are planning a joint center in biomedical data science, empowering researchers at both institutions to attack cancer with big data. A $10 million gift from Mary and Tim Boyle is helping launch this initiative. Put your data to work


The UO’s College of Education (COE) influences educational and social systems nationally and internationally, with 14 research and outreach units and 43 commercial education products currently on the market. This work helps children and families of all ages—from infants and toddlers to adolescents and young adults. U.S. News & World Report consistently give the COE top rankings, and special education has been ranked third in the US since 2000.

For decades, the COE has engaged in research and development for special education, counseling psychology, educational leadership, and school psychology. Our faculty members have a long tradition of translating research into effective models, methods, and measures that improve lives. Their innovative research impacts school reform, assessment, school-wide discipline and behavior management, positive youth development, family interventions, special education, early intervention, and culturally responsive educational practices.

Materials Science

UO researchers from different disciplines are discovering new ways to help people, boost industry, and advance sustainability by exploring the structure and properties of materials. In 1985, the Materials Science Institute (MSI) was launched as a state center of excellence. Since then, the MSI has more than tripled the size of its research program, established mutually-beneficial partnerships with industries throughout the Northwest, and created four new graduate programs.

The UO is a national leader in energy, sustainable, and supramolecular materials. Our scientists also excel in novel materials, medical and health applications, physics at the biology and materials interface, and enhanced technologies for environmental and health related sciences.

However, some of our most innovative work happens beyond the laboratory. MSI pioneered a highly-successful graduate-level internship program that is now part of the UO’s Knight Campus. Ninety percent of alumni from this program are employed within three months of graduating. Approximately 70 percent remain at their host companies. The institute also initiated CAMCOR, Oregon’s high-tech extension service, and brought to campus Lens of the Market, a program that helps scientists translate novel discoveries to the marketplace through professional development experiences in innovation.

Our corporate partners sponsor research and internship programs, pursue technology licensing possibilities, and consult with UO’s materials science experts. By staying current with industry trends and what businesses need from new employees, we offer tremendous value—to industry, Oregon’s economy, and our students. ­Investigate Materials Science

Microbiome Science

Our bodies have more microbes than human cells. Microbiome science explores how these microscopic ecosystems affect our health and interact with the microbiota found in buildings, soil, and the air (and other people). 

The UO leads at the vanguard of this emerging research area, and our campus includes a National Institutes of Health-funded microbiome sciences center, the META Center for Host-Microbe Systems Biology.

Our faculty members are global leaders in the live imaging of microbiome dynamics and the ecology of microbiome transmission in populations. We’re one of the top institutions in the world for high throughput gnotobiotic model systems. In particular, our institution has pioneered the use of microbially sterile, or “germ-free” zebrafish for high throughput screening and live imaging of host-microbe interactions. Our cutting-edge imaging techniques shed light on how microbial communities function—in living organisms, in real time. 

UO scientists ask crucial questions about microbiota, disease, and wellness. And their discoveries help improve lives. For example, they study how antibiotics destroy beneficial microbes along with harmful pathogens. They’re also discovering connections between microbiota and the development of Type 1 diabetes—research that led to a patent and could lead to new therapies. Another project on gut bacteria could unlock new cures for inflammatory disorders such as inflammatory bowel diseases. 

This innovative research also offers economic benefits. Phylagen, a firm cofounded by a UO faculty member, is developing the world’s largest environmental microbiome database. As the global epicenter of zebrafish, the university helps companies and universities conduct research using this species. Through our Genomics Core, we also provide microbiome surveying services. Additional partnership opportunities include sponsored research, internships, and technology licensing.

The Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact

The Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact is a bold new effort designed to accelerate the cycle of translating discoveries into the private sector in biomedical engineering, biomaterials, neuroengineering, and data science. Rooted in the UO’s 60-year history of interdisciplinary collaboration, the Knight Campus will catalyze new research opportunities and forge partnerships with industrial and clinical practitioners. It will provide integrated experiential training for scientists and entrepreneurs, fueling a high-tech workforce through the Knight Campus Internship Program. 

Our $225 million phase one development includes a 160,000-square-foot research and academic building slated to open in 2020. It will be home to an innovation center that will strengthen academic and industry partnerships, rapidly transforming ideas into tools and technologies that address societal needs. This innovation center will include wet labs, larger enclosed lab  spaces, coworking spaces, meeting rooms and collaboration spaces available to individuals, early stage ventures, and established businesses. Accelerate scientific impact

Prevention Science

For decades, UO researchers have been at the forefront of the field now called prevention science, working to improve the lives of children, families, and adults through science, outreach, and program delivery.

The UO’s Prevention Science Institute brings together diverse disciplines to collaborate on research—and translate their discoveries into practices that improve lives. With one of just a handful of prevention science doctoral programs in the nation and a world-class College of Education, the UO is an international leader in this field.

Prevention Science Institute faculty have a shared commitment to understanding human development, preventing behavioral health problems, and implementing effective interventions in community settings. Our research partners are community agencies and schools, healthcare providers, social services providers, and in some instances corporate partners. Our students are applying what they learn in schools, hospitals, and clinical settings through internships and other training experiences. And our discoveries are being leveraged through scalable programming.

Take the Family Check-Up—a UO-trademarked, family-centered intervention to reduce problem behavior in children from early childhood to adolescence. The result of 30 years of research, this program is being used in schools throughout the country. Another example is the UO’s Health Promotion and Obesity Prevention initiative, where our researchers are working to address obesity rates in children and adults.

These are just two—of many—examples. Our faculty members design, evaluate, and implement many innovative solutions that help people and promote resilient communities. Improve lives through science and discovery

Sustainable Chemistry

Green chemistry wasn’t a part of the college curriculum until Ken Doxsee and Jim Hutchison made it so in 1997. In fact, they literally wrote the book on the subject—a textbook called Green Organic Chemistry: Strategies, Tool, and Laboratory Experiments. Today, our researchers also work with industry to help make their products and manufacturing more sustainable (and, quite often, more profitable).


In addition to accomplished people and outstanding programs, world-class data science requires the right tools. Talapas, the UO’s high performance computer cluster, is one of the fastest academic supercomputers in the Northwest. With a heterogeneous design that accommodates a wide variety of workflows, Talapas can effectively serve many different research needs. Check out our supercomputer