NAU's faculty excellence and desire to expand the research portfolio at the university, increasing access to high quality programs and educational opportunities for students, has provided the platform and vision for strengthening and diversifying its research enterprise. Looking forward, NAU will expand on the areas in which recent investments were made such as health, big data and cyber security, and astronomy. Additionally, NAU will continue evaluation of additional areas for focused strength in faculty expertise and for which there is regional importance.
NAU’s strategic faculty recruiting program, started in 2014, is resulting in the attraction and hiring of nationally-recognized scholars in areas of institutional research strength. These faculty enhance research capacity in key areas and increase opportunities for existing NAU faculty to develop productive interdisciplinary collaborations. Areas of key strategic research investments in faculty and supporting resources include computing and informatics, pathogen and microbiome research, bioengineering, health equities research, astronomy, forestry, and ecosystems science. In addition to generating increased external funding and growing NAU’s body of scholarship, these and other recently-recruited faculty facilitate the development of new Ph.D. programs at NAU in bioengineering, informatics and computing, and astronomy. Emerging areas for NAU will likely include programs in advanced materials sciences and health sciences that enable the university to further increase external funding, attract exceptional graduate students and provide new opportunities for economic development.
NAU’s FY 2017 strategic investments described in this section involve the further development of the new School of Informatics, Computing and Cyber Systems (SICCS); the expansion of infectious disease, bioterrorism, and microbiome research; the establishment of programs in behavioral, community health and health equities research; and, the growth of ecosystem science at the intersection of big data sciences. NAU’s research capacity, knowledge creation and innovation, and academic program offerings will all benefit from these focused efforts which NAU consciously integrates into its historical mission and vision for the future.NAU’s contribution to the economic development of the Northern Arizona region and the state of Arizona have been critical to investment and initiative decisions in expanding NAU’s research portfolio.