Did you know that from 2014 to 2015, Nevada had the second highest percentage of English language learners in the nation—students who participated in language assistance programs to better meet learning standards—but ranked last in the nation for K-12 public school quality? Did you know that in this same time period, 11.1 percent of children ages 3-21 with disabilities who received special education services in Nevada had autism? Did you know that in 2016, Nevada ranked third to last for mental health care? In fact, Nevada currently ranks 37 in the nation in health care overall and, to complicate matters, has a comparably low rate of funding from the National Institutes of Health compared to other states. And consistently, Nevada ranks first in the nation for domestic violence fatalities. These challenges need to be addressed and solutions found.
While Nevada faces several challenges, there also are exciting opportunities. In my new role as UNLV’s vice president for research and economic development, I already see how united we are as a community in our desire to find solutions to these and other social, educational, and biomedical challenges we face as a state.
I believe that some of the most valuable research we can do is the kind that is in service of others: our family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and community. UNLV is listening, looking for these opportunities, and actively engaging in community-centered research—asking what you really need and seeking answers to the questions you have.
I’m proud to report that UNLV researchers from many disciplines and at all levels, from faculty to undergraduates, are studying subjects like education, domestic violence, and health care as well as the comprehensive set of factors that can be undertaken at a societal level to reduce disparities and address social injustices in Nevada and beyond. Like a huge puzzle, each researcher is bringing their piece—their unique perspective—to the table. Through collaboration, everyone is coming to see the different pieces that make up an eventual whole: a solution to the problem at hand.
Before you flip the page to learn more about some of the community-centered research taking place at our university, please know that we hope to be the organization you point to and say, “UNLV is the reason my life is better.”