The Road Ahead Starts Right Here

The Road Ahead 
Starts Right Here

Creating a better future is the perfect challenge for Nebraska’s only public research university. Each of the University of Nebraska's four campuses has unique strengths—from metropolitan to rural, land grant and research to academic medicine. These strengths create a breadth of expertise that is unmatched. Together, we are making an impact—for our state and for our world.


Harnessing the Power of the Sun: Jinsong Huang

Energy. It's on everyone's mind as energy costs continue to climb. Many are concerned world energy demands will outpace production. The search is on for affordable, renewable power sources—and that search is transforming the technologies that power our nation. Yet, solar power remains just beyond reach as a widely-used energy source.

A University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineer, Jinsong Huang, is making big strides in his effort to harness the sun’s power. Current solar cells are too expensive and not efficient; his goal is to cut their cost in half—so they can compete with fossil fuel energy. And, he's tackling that goal with several million dollars in federal grants…and groundbreaking approaches to creating new material for solar cells.

Huang believes that renewable energy is the number one issue for the future. And although solar energy has a long way to go, he plans on being part of making renewable energy a major part of the solution. By lowering solar energy’s cost and increasing its efficiency, Huang—and UNL—can help meet the world’s growing energy demand.

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Empowering the Homeless: Kurt Borchard

Homelessness is a problem in many cities. In urban areas with high costs of living and high unemployment rates, the problem grows. Living on the street is unsafe, yet there isn’t enough room in homeless shelters to accommodate the number of people who are homeless. Now, a fascinating way of addressing the issue has surfaced—and Kurt Borchard, a professor of sociology at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, is taking a closer look.

Borchard is in the middle of a yearlong sabbatical to interview individuals in two city-sanctioned homeless encampments in Portland, Oregon—a city that struggles with homelessness. On any given night, over 1,900 people sleep on the streets. A loophole in that city’s laws has allowed the homeless population to form encampments, where camp residents have banded together to create a legal and political foundation. They can draw up contracts and negotiate with the city, giving homeless people basic rights and a safer place to live.

“It’s an innovative way to address the ongoing problem of homelessness,” Borchard says. “This problem is not going away.” His hope? To better inform people about the issue of homelessness. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, and Borchard’s work shows how one group of homeless men and women have found a way to live with a greater sense of dignity.

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Engaging Girls in the World of IT: Code Crush

IT is one of the fastest-growing job sectors in the US. However, many of these jobs may go unfilled—because there aren’t enough college graduates with computing-related degrees. And, very few women are pursuing career opportunities in IT. In 2015, only 18% of all computing and information science degrees were earned by women.

This is where “Code Crush,” an immersion experience for middle- and high-school girls at UNO's College of Information Science and Technology, comes in. The four-day program introduces girls from across Nebraska to information technology in a friendly and engaging environment—at no cost. The girls learn how no matter what their career aspirations are—there’s a place for them in IT. They program robots, make digital music, learn about innovative thinking, create mobile applications, and meet role models in IT.

UNO's CodeCrush—just one way that NU is working to diversify the IT landscape—and help fill the IT workforce deficit.

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Training The Nation For Ebola And Other Emerging Threats: UNMC

in 2014, the Ebola outbreak turned into an epidemic and spread like wildfire throughout Africa, reaching into Europe and across the sea to the US. Anyone willing to treat Ebola victims risked becoming one. But a few were brave enough to step up. Among those were healthcare professionals from UNMC’s biocontainment unit, armed with 10 years of training and preparation.

These individuals risked their own lives in order to save Ebola patients—because they knew how much they were needed. And, as a result, UNMC and its clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine, were recognized as a national asset and referred to as the “gold standard” for treatment and development of safety protocols in handling Ebola.

In the months since, medical centers and hospitals from all over the world have come to the UNMC experts to be trained for the next highly infectious disease outbreak. And, in July of 2015, UNMC was awarded a $12 million grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish and co-lead the nation’s National Ebola Training and Education Center.

When given the opportunity to make a difference, UNMC always takes it. The situations may change and the infectious diseases may vary—but as leaders in the field, they continue to tackle challenges with boldness and heart.

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