The Iowa Informatics Initiative (UI3) is a campus-wide, multidisciplinary initiative designed to coordinate informatics activities across the institution, which span from health care to digital arts and humanities. The Initiative aims to expand research capabilities, strengthen educational and training opportunities in informatics-related areas, and provide a single point of contact for external constituents with interests in informatics.

A key element of the Initiative is the creation of a new “cluster” of informatics faculty under the UI Cluster Hire Initiative. To date, 20 new informatics cluster faculty have been hired from nine colleges. Searches are underway for additional informatics faculty.

The Initiative also bolsters informatics-related educational opportunities across campus and is home to the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGPI). The IGPI offers Certificate, Master of Science, and Ph.D. degrees in four subprograms: bioinformatics, geoinformatics, health informatics and information science.

More than 250 UI3 affiliates represent every college and more than 80 departments and units. The informatics interests of the affiliates span a wide spectrum of areas, from health informatics to digital humanities. Extensive support services are organized around facilitation, data services, analysis and visualization, and research application functions. 

UI3 Affiliates by research domain (Pie Chart) showing Health Informatics at largest percentage

Informatics is deeply interwoven within the fabric of 21st century society, affecting our social interactions and communications, work and business processes, creative expression and recreation, and research and discovery. In addition to being a key intellectual topic in its own right, informatics is a broad enabler of research, education, and engagement, impacting almost every area of the University of Iowa. An Informatics Task Force was created in the spring of 2013 with the goal of developing a comprehensive action plan that strengthens informatics education, training, research and collaborative support at the University of Iowa. The Task Force found existing strengths in informatics-related education and research in a number of areas distributed across campus. In addition, institutional strengths in the underlying infrastructure necessary to support informatics teaching and research were identified, including a state-of-the-art data center and an investment in performance computing systems. Given the universality of informatics needs, no single college or segment of the institution alone can create the breadth and depth of core and applied informatics that addresses all of the diverse needs; thus renewed efforts to coordinate informatics and new investments were recommended. UI3 was born as a result.

The UI3 leadership team includes Director Gregory Carmichael (Professor, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering); Associate Director for Services Ben Rogers (Sr. Director, ITS); and Associate Director for Academic Curriculum Development Juan Pablo Hourcade (Professor, Computer Science). UI3 also has a Steering Committee, Curriculum Sub-committee and a Support Services Sub-committee.