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Marquette Research News “But we have to be careful to couple that challenge with support so that we do not degrade our teaching.” Myers points to the university’s strategic plan, in which Research in Action is a primary theme and signals Marquette’s emphasis on scholarly pursuits. The importance placed on “action” puts a clear stamp on the sort of research the university will invest in the most — with a catch.
New provost aims to ignite research on a mission Provost Daniel Myers believes strongly that the best researchers are the best teachers — and vice versa. “We have a lot of individuals like that here at Marquette,” he says, “ … and we want more of them.” A research powerhouse in his earlier days in the academy and the recipient of a top teaching honor, Myers knows what he’s talking about. Achieving tenure in three years and full professorship in another three at the University of Notre Dame, where he spent 17 years before joining Marquette in summer 2015, he has a firsthand grasp of what it takes to increase research productivity while also delivering on the teaching front. As Marquette looks to double its research output during the next five years, Myers is cognizant of the support mechanisms that enable research productivity, and he cautions that such change takes time. “We are driving forward on research, and, to do so, we’re asking how the faculty can do more,” Myers says.
“There are a variety of reasons to choose research projects, and those reasons — from pure intellectual curiosity to direct intervention in a concrete problem — inspire researchers differently,” Myers says. “Not all research has an immediate application, and that’s ok.” For Myers, the greatest concern is not whether more research projects are applied, but whether Marquette’s body of research reflects and is driven by its Catholic, Jesuit roots, something that drew Myers to the university in the first place. “Much of the research at Marquette is driving toward something else, something bigger,” he points out. “Through their research as much as their teaching, our faculty are ultimately trying to have an impact on the world.”
Spreading quickly Marquette research spurs worldwide interest in whether the spread of invasive vines in rain forests is accelerating climate change Scientific interest in Dr. Stefan Schnitzer’s research on the lianas in tropical forests is spreading almost as wildly as the invasive woody vine species itself. Schnitzer, Mellon Distinguished Professor of biological sciences at Marquette and a research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, has been studying the spread of invasive vines in Panama’s tropical forests and how it’s affecting the forest’s capacity to capture atmospheric carbon. Because the vines spread quickly by climbing and often covering trees, research that Schnitzer conducted with Marquette post-doctoral fellow Dr. Geertje van der Heijden and a colleague from the University of Minnesota recently found that areas of liana growth had 76 percent less biomass per year than areas without the invasive vines. In basic terms, growing lianas choked the life out of trees below. Consequently, as lianas cover ever
One of the keys to unlocking Marquette’s greater potential, Myers says, is through collaboration, on campus and off. “Collaboration is incredibly important. The research that’s going on between the disciplines — that’s where the intellectual sparks are really flying.” CHRISTOPHER STOLARSKI
Watch a video of Myers helping students beat finals week stress: go.mu.edu/stress-relief. marquette research news and updates