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University Strategic Organizations

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University Strategic Organizations (USOs)

University Strategic Organizations are organized scholarship units involving multiple disciplines, as well as mature linkages with industry and government, that represent core strategic activities of the university. USOs are expected to promote the incubation of creative ideas and innovative/disruptive technologies within a mature, structured framework and mission directly aligned with university and/or State strategic research directions. Owing to their strategic importance, USOs receive a portion of their funding as ongoing base support from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships, though in all cases the majority of funding will come from external sources. Any non-academic unit or informally organized activity is eligible to apply for USO classification. Competitions to select USOs occur on a periodic basis, with the last competition occurring in 2017.

Current USOs

Radar Aeroecology Logo

The Applied Aeroecology USO promotes an integrated interdisciplinary approach to collecting, analyzing, and interpreting new data streams, describing the aerosphere, documenting its biodiversity, and delineating our shared natural resources to inform societal decisions about managing the aerosphere.

The Applied Aeroecology USO mission is to be the international leader in generating and disseminating new knowledge about the ecology of the aerosphere and people’s changing perceptions and interactions with this environment. To achieve our mission, we focus on three intertwined objectives:

  1. expand our existing strength in basic radar aeroecology by specifically focusing on establishing leadership in a suite of biologging technologies;
  2. become a leader in social science of the aerosphere; and
  3. expand the reach of our training portfolio in aeroecology, data science, and science communication

Director: Dr. Jeff Kelly
Phone: 405-325-2440

CAPS logo

The vision of CAPS is to establish world prominence in regional environmental modeling and prediction and enhance its world leadership position in storm-scale data assimilation and numerical weather prediction. The vision will also provide a venue for faculty, staff scientists, and students to collaboratively explore bold new ideas, attracting the best scientists and students, and facilitating the transfer of knowledge and technology to government and industry.

CAPS was established in 1989 as one of the first National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Technology Centers. Its primary mission is to develop techniques for automated analysis and prediction of high-impact local weather and environmental conditions. Its research also includes mesoscale and convective-scale dynamics and predictability, and interdisciplinary research on radar meteorology and information technology. It develops and supports advanced end-to-end numerical weather prediction (NWP) systems, including the Advanced Regional Prediction System (ARPS), and receives research funding from many funding agencies in the US and abroad, including the NSF, NOAA, DoD, NASA, and FAA.

Director: Dr. Ming Xue
Abbreviation: CAPS
Phone: 405-325-0453


The vision of the ECEI is to advance quality in early childhood through research, evaluation, and community collaboration. The ECEI at OU-Tulsa strives to advance and support early childhood programming and policies by generating, disseminating, and applying meaningful research.

Several features define the work of the ECEI. Although the ECEI is dedicated to enhancing the knowledge base concerning all children birth through age 8, the ECEI places special focus on the under-studied issues related to the care and education of our youngest children—infants, toddlers, twos, and threes. In addition to this focus on group care and education of young children birth through age 3, the ECEI evaluates early childhood models and programs such as Head Start and conducts policy-oriented research including investigating characteristics of the early childhood workforce. Another hallmark of the ECEI is our community collaborative approach—in designing and conducting research and evaluation, and in designing and delivering research-based professional development. This partnership approach drives ECEI’s focus on applied research, dedication to usable program evaluations, and commitment to policy-relevant topics.

Director: Dr. Diane M. Horm
Abbreviation: ECEI
Phone: 918-660-3907

The IBEST is an inclusive innovation ecosystem for the biomedical research community across OU-Norman, OUHSC, and OU-Tulsa campuses, and into regional communities including OMRF, the VA, and the Oklahoma bioscience industry.

The mission of IBEST is to catalyze and accelerate the development of research-based innovations that advance the effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare, especially those with national priorities, e.g., cancer and Alzheimer’s.

To achieve this mission and the goal of building an umbrella organization for the healthcare technology development in Oklahoma, IBEST's strategy is to create this inclusive innovation ecosystem that catalyzes and cultivates faculty-led initiatives, while simultaneously identifying and leading a limited number of signature team-based initiatives.

The rationale behind an inclusive research community is to take advantage of existing wide-spectrum healthcare activity, resources, and networks at OUHSC to advance technology innovations, as well as to transform the community into a self-sustainable system via building critical mass areas. Both national and international reputations for IBEST and the Oklahoma biomedical research community will be built in general through:

  1. a large number of high-quality research activities from the inclusive innovation ecosystem, and
  2. differentiated research capability establishment via signature team-based initiatives. IBEST is in the best position to lead these efforts and, at the same time, transform the cross-campus relationships, partnerships, and collaborations within the OU community.


Director: Dr. Lei Ding
Abbreviation: IBEST




South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center Logo

The South Central Climate Science Center, one of eight Climate Science Centers (CSC) established during 2010-2012 by the U.S. Department of the Interior, was founded on March 1, 2012. The University of Oklahoma, Texas Tech University, Louisiana State University, The Chickasaw Nation, The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, and NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab (GFDL) form the consortium that hosts the South Central CSC. It is physically located on the OU Research Campus in Four Partners Place.

In coordination with the other regional CSC and DOI’s National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, the South Central CSC:

  • Provides scientific information tools and techniques to study impacts of climate change;
  • Synthesizes and integrates climate change impact data; and
  • Develops tools that the DOI managers and partners can use when managing the DOI’s land, water, fish and wildlife, and cultural heritage resources.

The network of CSCs provides fundamental science and tools to national and cultural resource managers. The centers focus on understanding landscape stressors related to climate change and designing adaptation strategies at a regional level.

The center also seeks opportunities to broaden and strengthen the regional network of researchers and educators who are studying the impacts of climate variability and change on both human and natural systems.

Director: Mike Langston & Renee McPherson
Abbreviation: SC-CSC
Phone: 405-325-1272

Previous USOs


The ARRC is one of the country’s largest academic centers in radar, comprised of 17 faculty and research scientists, 3 engineers, 2 administrative staff, 15 postdocs and visiting scholars, and more than 60 students. Its mission is to solve challenging radar research problems, prepare the next generation of students, and serve to empower economic growth and development in the field of radar and applied electromagnetics for the State of Oklahoma. Thus, we intend that the ARRC will help make Norman the world center for radar research, education, design, fabrication, production, deployment/support, and decision systems research.

Director: Dr. Tian-You Yu
Abbreviation: ARRC
Phone: 405-325-2871


The CASR is an interdisciplinary center that brings together unique skills and expertise, fostering collaboration on the cultural, political, organizational, technical, interpersonal, and cognitive dimensions of contemporary challenges in human communities. CASR fosters research excellence through collaborations within the center, with specific OU partners, and with partners in other organizations, nationally and internationally. Interdisciplinary social science research within CASR focuses on four key areas including:

  1. neuroscience, complex cognition, and decision making
  2. interpersonal interaction, organizations, and leadership
  3. trust, integrity, and ethics
  4. culture, communities, and public policy.

CASR produces high quality research and is uniquely poised for future growth opportunities by virtue of its unique interdisciplinary environment, multiple substantive foci, and faculty members from across the social sciences with excellent funding track records.

Director: Governing Board
Abbreviation: CASR
Phone: 405-325-0770

Cooperative Institutes are university-based research institutions that support the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Mission Goals and Strategic Plan. Because many CIs are co-located with NOAA research laboratories (such as the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman), they foster long-term research collaboration between university and federal scientists. CIs help educate and train the next generation of NOAA’s and the Nation’s scientific workforce; many also provide for formal NOAA sponsorship of students through fellowships. Currently, NOAA supports 16 CIs that encompass 42 universities and research institutions across 23 states and the District of Columbia.

CIMMS was created in 1978 through a cooperative agreement between NOAA and The University of Oklahoma. It promotes collaborative research between federal and university scientists to improve basic and applied understanding of stormscale meteorological phenomena, weather radar, and regional climate variations – all with the goal of helping to produce better forecasts and warnings that save lives and protect property. CIMMS research contributes to the NOAA Mission through improvement of the observation, analysis, understanding, and prediction of weather elements and systems, and climate anomalies, ranging in size from cloud nuclei to regional areas.

Director: Dr. Randy Peppler
Abbreviation: CIMMS

IEG Logo

The mission of IEG is to advance scientific research and education in environmental genomics and to stimulate bio-economic development in the State of Oklahoma and the United States. Four research themes are pursued at IEG: (i) functional and comparative genomics for understanding of gene functions, regulations, evolution, and networks, (ii) microbial ecology and community genomics for analysis of diversity, composition, structure, and function of microbial communities related to bioenergy, bioremediation, global changes, and agricultural practices using functional gene arrays (e.g., GeoChip) and other metagenomics approaches (e.g., high throughput sequencing), (iii) development of biotechnology and bioinformatics tools for integrative understanding and modeling of microbial community networks, and (iv) systems biology.

IEG has developed a unique metagenomic tool, GeoChip, to study the functional diversity, composition, structure, and functions of microbial communities from a variety of habitats, e.g., water systems, air, soil, extreme environments, contaminated sites, reactors, and human microbiomes. This technology won an R&D 100 Award in 2009, and IEG was awarded the Innovator of the Year award by The Journal Record for the GeoChip technology in 2010.

Dr. Jizhong Zhou

View IEG Annual Profile 2016 (PDF)

K20 Logo

The K20 Center for Educational and Community Renewal is a statewide education research and development center which promotes innovative learning through school-university-community collaboration.

Our mission is to cultivate a collaborative network engaged in research and outreach that creates and sustains innovation and transformation through leadership development, shared learning, and authentic technology integration.

K20 Center uses five interrelated phases to transform conventional schools into high-achieving, interactive learning communities:

Phase I - Leaders Learning: Develops principals and superintendents to lead systemic change and technology integration in their schools and districts.

Phase II - Whole-School Learning: Supports Phase I leaders by focusing on teachers', parents', and community leaders' empowerment in creating technology-rich learning communities designed to enhance student success.

Phase III - Teacher Learning: Creates in-depth authentic research and learning experiences for teachers in content areas.

Phase IV - Student Learning: Creates innovative learning strategies, such as Digital Game-Based Learning, to encourage students to be involved in their own learning.

Phase V - University: Creates connections and collaborations to support learning beyond high school.

Director: Leslie Williams