Key research areas

Over the next few years, SMU plans to hire clusters of faculty that will enhance areas of established research strength at SMU, particularly in the areas of data science and high-performance computing. To identify an initial three to five areas of distinction for these clusters, we began convening faculty town halls in spring 2021. Based on these town halls and the recommendations of faculty-led task forces, SMU will advertise two interdisciplinary cluster hires across two areas of strategic research excellence. These clusters will serve as a model for future cluster hires to support our research and scholarly/creative ambitions.

Earth Hazards and National Security

Built upon SMU’s fundamental expertise on sensing (e.g., acoustic, seismic, radar, and embedded) and SMU’s high-performance computation (HPC) facility, SMU can position itself as a national and international leader for developing and applying state-of-the-art sensing analysis and data-mining techniques for monitoring signatures of the Earth Hazards and coupled human systems through a strategic cluster hiring. The mission of this cluster would be to reduce risks and impacts of Earth Hazards on National Security and community resilience and sustainability, with a focus on Texas.

21st Century Technology and Education

Our priorities for cluster hires are in the areas of Immersive Learning and AI in education and society to expand our research in technology-enhanced instruction and learning (TEIL). Within these areas, our priority is for faculty with a focus in improvement science and skills in mixed methods research. These hires will help us create synergy among our existing faculty and bring in new perspectives and skill sets that will help us grow our research in TEIL.

For more information about TEIL, please visit the Technology and Education Cluster.

Data Science

SMU is actively developing a big data ecosystem, supported by next-generation research computing technology that includes virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence, to engage the disciplines across the campus, from physics to art, engineering to history, and business to education, in the pursuit of research with impact. The faculty appointments within this cluster are divided into three interrelated groups: Data Core, Technology-Enhanced Immersive Learning (TEIL) and Health Analytics. Faculty in the Data Core group will augment and broaden SMU’s core capacities in data science. Faculty in the TEIL group will expand SMU’s growing capabilities in advancing technology’s role in the future of education. Faculty in the Health Analytics group will augment and broaden SMU’s core capacities in health analytics.

Urban Research

Acting upon the recommendations of the Task Force on Social Justice and Equity and the Urban Research Cluster Task Force, SMU will conduct searches for faculty to establish an Urban Research cluster at SMU. Urban research involves systematically studying various aspects of urban environments, drawing upon fields such as urban planning, public policy, sociology, geography, economics, health sciences and more to address societal challenges.