Grand Challenges Webinar Series

IU Grand Challenges: Progress and Impact — A Webinar Series

Grand Challenges are major large-scale problems facing humanity that can be solved only by teams of dedicated researchers working across disciplines in collaboration with community partners. IU has three Grand Challenges initiatives in progress: Precision Health, Prepared for Environmental Change, and Responding to the Addictions Crisis.

The Office of the Vice President for Research is pleased to host a series of virtual roundtables to share progress and stories of impact from the innovative research empowered by IU's Grand Challenges program. Roundtable discussions will feature Grand Challenge researchers and partners, and offer participants the chance to engage via live Q&A.

Webinar 5 — Prepared for Environmental Change: An Earth Day Conversation, April 22, 11 a.m. - noon

Aaron Deslatte, assistant professor, O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Aaron Deslatte is a social scientist whose research focuses on the roles that public managers play in enhancing economic, environmental, and social sustainability at the local and metropolitan scales. As director of the Metropolitan Governance and Management Transitions Laboratory, Deslatte is building a knowledge base that can help local governments advance sustainable economic and community development.

Gabe Filippelli, professor of earth sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, IUPUI

Gabe Filippelli is a biogeochemist, focusing on the flow and cycling of elements and chemicals in the environment. This includes his work on pollutant distribution, pollutant exposure to human populations, and engaging communities to reduce their own exposures. He directs the Center for Urban Health, whose goal is to enhance the health and sustainability of urban populations.

Adam Scribner, director of STEM Education Initiatives, IU School of Education

As director of STEM Education Initiatives for the IU School of Education, Adam Scribner cultivates partnerships to create transformative STEM teaching and learning experiences. He is the principal investigator of Educating for Environmental Change, a project that aims to improve the teaching of climate change in K-12 schools.

Betsy Stirratt, director of the Grunwald Gallery of Art, Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design

Betsy Stirratt is the founding director of the Grunwald Gallery of Art whose curated exhibitions, books, and catalogues span contemporary art, natural history, and the sciences. She conceived and curated State of Nature: Picturing Indiana Biodiversity, an exhibition currently on display at the Indiana State Museum that promotes a deeper understanding of Indiana’s environment through artifacts and visual art.

Webinar 4 — Responding to the Addictions Crisis, March 11, 11 a.m. - noon

Peter Embi, president and CEO of Regenstrief Institute, and associate dean for informatics and health services research, IU School of Medicine

Embi is an internationally recognized researcher, educator, and leader in the field of clinical and translational research informatics. His areas of interest include biomedical informatics, health information technology, patient-centered outcomes, and learning health systems. Embi serves as president and CEO of the Regenstrief Institute. He is also the associate dean for informatics and health services research  at the Indiana University School of Medicine, the associate director of Indiana CTSI, and vice president for learning health systems at IU Health. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Medical Informatics Association, and a member of the National Advisory Council for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Harold (Hank) D. Green, Jr. associate professor of applied health sciences

Green is an associate professor in the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington Department of Applied Health Sciences. He also serves as the director of research for the IU Precision Health Initiative Person to Person Health Interview Study and the PI of the Addictions Grand Challenge IN-PORT study. Before moving to Indiana, he spent 10 years at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica where he was a senior behavioral scientist and founding director of the RAND Center for Applied Network Analysis and Systems Science. Green uses network analyses to understand diffusion of information/innovation and the social and cultural determinants of health and health behaviors. He currently leads an R34 that aims to develop a network-based strategy for better targeting information campaigns aimed at encouraging physicians to take up new treatment modalities in the context of HIV prevention (namely, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP). Many of his other projects also focus on HIV. He holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Florida and is an alumnus of the University of Illinois NIH T32 Training Grant in Quantitative Psychology, of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications Center for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and of the Science of Networks in Communities Research Group.

Kosali Simon, Herman B Wells Endowed Professor of public and environmental affairs

Simon joined the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs as a professor in 2010. In 2016, she was named a Herman B Wells Endowed Professor. In 2019, she was appointed associate vice provost for health sciences at IU Bloomington. Simon is a nationally known health economist who specializes in applying economic analysis in the context of health insurance and health care policy. Her current research mainly focuses on the impact of health insurance reform on healthcare and labor market outcomes, and on the causes and consequences of the opioid crisis. She is also active in national leadership roles in her profession, serving on several boards and in editorial positions. Simon is a research associate of the National Bureau for Economic Research, a group with which she has been affiliated since 2002. She has also served a three-year term with the nation's largest health philanthropy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; in 2013, she was selected to the National Advisory Committee of RWJF Health Policy Scholars Program, a committee composed of 13 nationally recognized experts in social science and health policy. Simon is editor for the Journal of Health Economics, co-editor of Journal of Human Resources, and editorial board member for the American Journal of Health Economics and the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Webinar 3: Precision Health Initiative — February 19, 2021, 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Tatiana Foroud, Ph.D., executive associate dean for research affairs, IU School of Medicine

Tatiana Foroud is the executive associate dean for research at IU School of Medicine. Dr. Foroud is also a geneticist and leader in dementia research. She runs the NIH-designated repository for blood, DNA, tissue and other samples collected from patients throughout the country with Alzheimer’s disease. Foroud has been a faculty member in the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics since 1994. She is a statistical geneticist whose research is funded by the NIH and is focused on the identification of genes and genetic variants contributing to a range of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, as well as alcohol use disorders.

Meredith McMahan, R.N., practice administrator for Division of Pediatric Hematology Oncology, Riley Hospital for Children

Meredith McMahan has been a registered nurse at Riley Hospital for Children since 2007, dedicating her time to the hematology/oncology patient population by working both on the inpatient Hematology/Oncology unit and in the outpatient clinic. Prior to her current role as Practice Administrator, she served as the outpatient nurse manager for the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and IU Health North. McMahan was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2010. She was treated at IU Health University Hospital by Dr. Bryan Schneider and has been disease-free for over 10 years.


Milan Radovich, Ph.D., associate professor, IU School of Medicine; vice president for oncology genomics, IU Health

Milan Radovich is an associate professor at the IUSchool of Medicine and vice president for oncology genomics at IU Health. He is also co-director of the IU Health Precision Genomics Program, a clinical program dedicated to the integration of cutting-edge genomics for the care of metastatic cancer patients. As an NCI-funded investigator, his research expertise focuses on the use of genomics in translational oncology. In particular, his research concentrates on the use of genomics in clinical studies.

Bryan Schneider, M.D., professor of medicine and medical/molecular genetics, IU Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center; Vera Bradley Chair of oncology, IU School of Medicine

Bryan P. Schneider is a medical oncologist and also co-leader of the IU Grand Challenge Precision Health Initiative’s triple negative breast cancer disease research team, along with Milan Radovich. Through his research, Dr. Schneider has identified several biomarkers or characteristics that predict which patients might suffer severe side effects from chemotherapy. He has led several clinical studies and published over 70 original research articles in high-impact medical journals and has three provisional patents for biomarkers.

Webinar 2: Preparing for Environmental Change — January 19, 2021, 3-4 p.m.

Ana Bento, assistant professor, IU School of Public Health-Bloomington

Ana Bento is an eco-epidemiologist who focuses on ecology and evolution of infectious diseases. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington and an adjunct in the Evolution, Ecology and Behavior Program in the Department of Biology.

Rich Hardy, professor of biology, College of Arts and Sciences, IU Bloomington

Richard Hardy is a professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences whose primary research interest is the reaction of mosquito-transmitted viruses in the insect host.

Jennifer Lau, associate professor of biology, College of Arts and Sciences, IU Bloomington

Jennifer Lau's work combines community ecology with evolutionary ecology—often capitalizing on long-term experiments—to study how human-caused global changes influence the ecology and evolution of plants and the insects and microbes with which they interact.

Ranjan Muthukrishnan, Invasive Species Ecologist Fellow, Environmental Resilience Institute

As the invasive species ecologist fellow and a community ecologist, Ranjan Muthukrishnan is broadly interested in the causes and consequences of major transitions in ecological systems. He comes to the Environmental Resilience Institute following postdoctoral work at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where he studied the spread dynamics and impacts of both terrestrial and aquatic invasive species.

Irene Newton, associate professor of biology, College of Arts and Sciences, IU Bloomington

Irene Garcia Newton is a microbiologist in the Department of Biology at IU Bloomington, where she conducts research on host-microbe interactions. She studies the intracellular symbiont Wolbachia and how this bacterium colonizes insects.

Webinar 1: Responding to the Addictions Crisis — December 17, 2020, 11 a.m. - noon

Matt Aalsma, professor of pediatrics, IU School of Medicine

Matthew C. Aalsma is also director of the Adolescent Behavioral Health Research Program at the IU School of Medicine. His current research includes exploring efforts to improve mental and physical health care for children and adolescents involved in the juvenile justice system.

Zack Adams, assistant professor of psychiatry, IU School of Medicine

Zachary Adams is an assistant professor of clinical psychology and licensed health service provider in the Department of Psychiatry at the IU School of Medicine. His clinical and research interests center on improving behavioral health care and promoting healthy outcomes for young people with co-occurring mental health and substance use problems, with a particular emphasis on youth and families impacted by trauma and adversity.

Gerardo Maupomé, associate dean for research, Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health

Gerardo Maupomé is a public health researcher with primary interests in dental health services research and oral epidemiology; clinical needs among patients at high risk of disease or subject to health and social disparities; and analysis of how dental professionals make clinical decisions. In addition to his positions as professor and associate dean at the Fairbanks School of Public Health, he is also an investigator with the Center for Urban Health in Indianapolis.

Tamika Zapolski, associate professor of clinical psychology at the Purdue School of Science at IUPUI

Tamika Zapolski focuses her research on risk for substance use and problems among African Americans, with the hope of understanding whether particular subgroups of African Americans are at heightened risk of engaging in problematic drinking behaviors and related problems. The ultimate goal is to develop interventions to mitigate this risk process across development.