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Strategic Vertical Institutes

Strategic Vertical Institutes

Pillar 5 of the Lead On, University Strategic Plan contemplates the creation of university-wide, multi-campus, multidisciplinary centers of excellence (institutes) focused on real-world challenges. During FY21, a dedicated team of faculty, working with strategy consulting firm Thinkenomics, completed our strategic research framework with detailed strategies and tactics for each of OU’s four vertical areas of research and creative activity focus (Pillar 5, Strategy 2, Tactic 1). These verticals form the foundation for the launch of four new university-wide institutes and provide the basis for incentivizing the convergence of transdisciplinary teams of OU faculty, staff, and students to tackle and contribute solutions to some of the defining societal challenges of our time such as social inequality, climate change, energy, health pandemics, national security and global stability, and others. 


gloss mountains overlaid with energy icons

Institute for Resilient Environmental and Energy Systems

The Institute for Resilient Environmental and Energy Systems (IREES) addresses sustainability grand challenges for Oklahoma, the nation and the world. Our goal is to develop equitable solutions that help drive the transformation of the U.S. energy sector toward a net-zero carbon economy, that provide access to clean water, air, and safe built environments and do so without degrading our planetary ecosystems and climate.

With this focus on challenges at the intersection of society, the environment, and energy systems, IREES works to create inclusive, collaborative and convergent research ecosystems that leverage the strengths of OU’s research faculty and our public and private sector partners. Our efforts will build on and expand research programs across three key areas:

  • Observing and predicting Earth systems.
  • Transforming energy and infrastructure systems.
  • Co-generating community resilience and environmental justice.


Tim Filley

Tim Filley
Director, Institute for Resilient Environmental and Energy Systems (IREES)

Telephone: 765-479-4329

OKC Skyline

Institute for Community and Society Transformation

The Institute for Community and Society Transformation (ICAST) is guided by a vision to transform societies by setting the national standard for convergent, community-engaged research and creative activity. ICAST addresses grand challenges facing communities and society today in the realms of:

  • Advancing equity and opportunity, particularly in the areas of health and education.
  • Understanding and addressing social and ethical challenges associated with technological advances and how they are integrated into workplaces, schools and daily life.
  • Partnering with Native Nations to strengthen cultural continuance and sovereignty.

Addressing community and societal challenges in transformative ways requires us to bring together the skills, expertise, and understanding from multiple disciplines in unique ways to better understand and define problems and to identify novel, creative and effective ways of addressing them. This requires understanding individuals, groups, societies, and cultures using a wide range of approaches and methods that expand our basic, applied, and community-centered research and scholarly footprint. ICAST encourages OU faculty to bring forward their unique expertise and engage across disciplines to work toward solving these grand challenges.


Shane Connelly

Shane Connelly
Director, Institute for Community and Society Transformation (ICAST)

Telephone: 405-325-4580

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Oklahoma Aerospace and Defense Innovation Institute

The Oklahoma Aerospace and Defense Innovation Institute (OADII) brings together the full range of the university’s capabilities and resources to provide holistic solutions addressing the aerospace, defense and global security challenges of today and tomorrow. By uniting the vast resources of a major research university with a network of industry and government partners, OADII advances security, liberty and prosperity for our state, nation and world. We are growing in national prominence in four crucial areas:

  • Ensuring national and global security through radar innovations.
  • Supporting the defense sustainment and modernization enterprise.
  • Addressing emerging security challenges through advanced technologies.
  • Developing innovative and agile international security policy solutions.


Robin Rand

Gen (Ret) Robin Rand
Executive Director, Oklahoma Aerospace and Defense Innovation Institute


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Institute for the Future of Health

Global challenges that affect human health and well-being are rooted in a complex and ever-evolving web of sociodemographic and biospheric systems. Building on existing strengths across our three campuses, the University of Oklahoma is poised to be at the forefront of transdisciplinary convergent research endeavors that will drive fundamental discoveries focused around three core areas of research:

  • Eliminating Health Disparities
  • Transforming Therapeutics and Diagnostics
  • Predicting, Preventing, and Responding to Emergent Pathogenic Threats