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UNC’s new Creativity Hubs initiative has announced awards to campus research teams pursuing solutions to two of the world’s most pressing issues: the global clean water shortage and the obesity epidemic. College faculty play a key role on both teams.

The Creativity Hubs initiative was developed by the vice chancellor for research as a platform on which to assemble teams of researchers from diverse disciplines to tackle major societal challenges and leverage additional support from external sponsors.

Addressing a need that affects over 1.8 billion people worldwide, the Sustainable Access to Safe Water Creativity Hub will pursue development of an innovative, affordable membrane-based water purification tool that can safely remove a broad range of water contaminants.

“The Creativity Hubs initiative has allowed us to assemble a unique team of scientists and engineers with the background and expertise to tackle a major global problem,” said Theo Dingemans, principal investigator for the hub and a professor of applied physical sciences.

The project team is composed of polymer chemists, computational modelers and engineers from the College’s applied physical sciences and mathematics departments and the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

The Heterogeneity in Obesity Creativity Hub will take a novel approach to assess the underlying causes of obesity, tapping information that has not been traditionally studied to unlock new, targeted ways to treat the disease.

By developing an automated tool to rapidly analyze and integrate large data sets, the team will seek answers to why individuals with the same diet experience weight gain and loss differently.

The project will involve College faculty members from psychology and neuroscience, biology, sociology, public policy, statistics and economics.

Published in the Fall 2018 issue | The Scoop

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