University of Arkansas announces founding director of ‘I3R’ research facility

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,203 views 

Photo courtesy of the University of Arkansas.

Ranu Jung, professor and chair of the Florida International University Department of Biomedical Engineering in Miami, is the founding director of the University of Arkansas’ $89 million Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research (I3R). UA officials announced the hire in a news release Wednesday (Oct. 13). Jung will begin in December.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Jung to the University of Arkansas,” Charles Robinson, interim chancellor, said in a statement. “The Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research will propel the University of Arkansas as a global leader in discovery and applied innovation, and Dr. Jung is the ideal leader to help take us there. She is a world-renowned researcher and visionary.”

UA officials in July 2020 announced a $194.7 million grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, one of the most significant single private gifts ever given to a university for advancing research and economic development. The funding is supporting several initiatives, one of which is the I3R. It will be built at the southeast corner of Dickson and Duncan streets on the southeast side of the UA campus. The building’s projected size is between 125,000 and 130,000 square feet. Groundbreaking is likely for January 2022. Site work is already under way.

“As the university celebrates its sesquicentennial — ‘150 years. 150 years of trailblazers. 150 years of challenges. 150 years of dreams achieved. 150 years of progress’ — I am deeply honored to have been selected as the founding executive director of I3R, a visionary, pioneering, trans-disciplinary institute,” Jung said in a statement. “We will nurture creativity, foster inclusivity and draw from all that our community has to offer, to pursue research excellence and transform discoveries, to create the future now — for the university, for Northwest Arkansas, for the nation and for all humankind.”

Jung is described in the UA release as one of the world’s foremost researchers in biomedical and neural engineering, with more than $27 million in research grants awarded as a principal or co-principal investigator, more than 100 refereed publications and 12 U.S. patents.

She also served as FIU’s interim dean of the College of Engineering and Computing from 2015 to 2017. Previously she was a member of the faculty at Arizona State University and University of Kentucky. Among her many honors, Jung was named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2017, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 2013 and the Biomedical Engineering Society in 2020.

“Dr. Jung’s leadership, commitment to diversity and success in commercialization make her the perfect person to make I3R the standard for integrative innovation and university outreach,” said John English, vice chancellor for research and innovation at the UA. “Her groundbreaking work in neural engineering will put the U of A at the forefront of this exciting field and will help attract outstanding researchers to build on the success of our Innovation Clusters.”

The University of Arkansas’ full news release is available at this link.