Wednesday, April 12, 2017

It might surprise you to learn that some of the folks you pass in the grocery aisles at HyVee, on the Ped Mall playground, or out at Lake Macbride are conducting research and scholarship that is changing the world.

Like Donna Santillan, whose research team discovered an early warning flag for preeclampsia, a life-threatening pregnancy-related high blood pressure disorder that has plagued women for centuries.

And Renita Schmidt, who is daring to inspire literacy among students at Grant Wood Elementary with her Strong Girls Read Strong Books Club.

And Chris Coffey, who as director of the UI Clinical Trials Statistical and Data Management Center is daring to design clinical trials that would never be conducted by the pharmaceutical industry because they lack a financial incentive.

Their stories, and the stories of 48 other researchers, scholars, and creators from across campus, are being told through a series of black-and-gold banners installed this month throughout downtown Iowa City, along the Park Road bridge, and in the Old Capitol Mall/University Capitol Centre (UCC).

Produced by the UI Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPR&ED), the banners—and a companion website at—highlight the exciting discovery and innovation occurring at the UI.

“The banners showcase the incredible work being done at the university, but they are also a challenge and an invitation to those inside and outside our institution to participate in innovative and creative work of their own,” said Dan Reed, UI Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

OVPR&ED has launched a related Twitter campaign using @DaretoDiscover and #DiscoverUI to help spread the word.

On Snapchat, OVPR&ED is showcasing the unique research opportunities afforded UI undergraduates. On Thursday, April 13, follow the University of Iowa Snapchat account to see a student researcher in Amy Lee’s lab walk us through her day. Also, if you are close to a Dare to Discover banner April 13-16, take a moment to flip through your Snapchat geofilters to make a discovery of your own. (Please note that the geofilter’s “footprint” only covers the primary downtown area and won’t reach beyond that, including to the Park Road bridge.)

The banners are scheduled to remain in place through the first week of May, when all 51 banners will be displayed inside UCC at least through June.

The OVPR&ED worked with Iowa City graphic designer Robyn Hepker to develop the series.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover.