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Imaginations in motion A new innovation fund unleashes a wealth of untapped ideas 4 In introducing the strategic innovation fund in 2015, Marquette President Michael R. Lovell challenged faculty, staff, students and alumni to go bold — making available $5 million in seed money for entrepreneurial projects with the potential to improve the university, community and world.


The community roared forth with 275 pre-proposals, which after vetting and consolidation became 180 final proposals, 38 of which received awards in June. “We clearly have a lot of great ideas that have not always had an avenue to get started without this type of seed funding,” says fund coordinator Dr. Jeanne Hossenlopp, vice president for research and innovation. “We expect that many of these projects will develop into larger-scale and sustainable endeavors.” With a second round of proposals under consideration, here’s a look at a few of the first 38 game-changing ideas:

Examining poverty from multiple directions Housed since 2011 in the Diederich College of Communication, the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, a trusted news source covering oft-overlooked city neighborhoods, is becoming a go-to place for searchable information relating to poverty in Milwaukee. Users of a new NNS database will explore correlations between poverty and health statistics, crime and other issues. Tapping into it, a university researcher, nonprofit organizer, city official or anyone else will be able to take a statistical snapshot of how unemployment in certain ZIP codes relates to infant mortality, for example, or thirdgrade test scores or eviction rates. The idea grew out of a series of articles on poverty published in 2014. The series generated considerable interest among community leaders and readers at large, prompting the news service to consider how to gather poverty-related data to contribute to public policymaking. “This data is all publicly available, but not in a way that makes it easy to access and easy to use,” says Editor-in-chief Sharon

McGowan, who leads a team of five. Watch for that to change soon.

An interdisciplinary meeting of the minds

Student-driven water solution

To understand how our minds work, it helps to consider physiological brain processes alongside considerations such as how we envision the world and make choices.

Emmanuel Kayiwa, a sophomore majoring in environmental engineering, started working on his membrane desalination system when he was 16. Now he’s a full-fledged member of Milwaukee’s community of water innovators. Thanks to the strategic innovation fund, he and his team are advancing this promising-on-paper concept by acquiring materials to build a laboratory prototype. “The premise of this system is to decrease the power needed to desalinate a cubic meter of ocean water by more than 50 percent,” he explains, comparing his system to the leading method of desalination, reverse osmosis. “It’s pretty feasible. The data looks really good.” Once the table-top-sized prototype is finished and tested, business research is next. Kayiwa’s goal is implementing the system on a large enough scale to supply a town with water for homes and businesses in a country where clean water is most needed.

Read about these and other funded projects:

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marquette university discover 2016

Where a student previously might make these connections by “cobbling together relevant courses from different departments,” a project supported by the fund envisions an improved course of study. “The cognitive science major will enable students to integrate theoretical and practical knowledge by drawing on faculty expertise across a wide range of departments, namely philosophy, psychology, computer science, biological sciences and English,” says Dr. Corinne Bloch-Mullins, assistant professor of philosophy and project leader. As with other proposals, student input helped identify the need for this potential major, which would be the first such program at a Jesuit university. “Students expressed interest in a more integrated learning experience,” says Bloch-Mullins. “They wanted to apply what they have learned about the mind and the brain in psychology to questions they discussed in philosophy courses and vice versa.”

Discover Magazine 2016