The UNC Research Opportunities Initiative (ROI) provides targeted funding for innovative and potentially game-changing research projects. Funded by a recurring $3-million annual appropriation from the 2014 General Assembly, the ROI represents North Carolina’s first financial investment in the UNC system’s five-year strategic plan.
Priority research areas eligible for ROI funding include advanced manufacturing; marine and coastal science; defense, military, and security; pharmacoengineering; energy; and data sciences. These awards demonstrate North Carolina’s growing appreciation of the role that university research can play in supporting economic development across our state.
The ROI accepts proposals from any institution in the 17-campus UNC system. Proposals are reviewed externally through a process refereed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and are judged according to the following criteria:
Intellectual merit (originality, importance of the project to the field)
“Game-changing” nature of the proposed project (short and long term impact for North Carolina, commercialization potential)
Project fit and feasibility (consistency with UNC strategic plan, nature of the sustainability plan)
The University of North Carolina is a multi-campus university dedicated to serving our state and its people through world-class teaching, research and scholarship, and outreach and service. The oldest public university in the nation, UNC traces its roots to the state’s 1776 constitution, which held that “All useful Learning shall be duly encouraged and promoted in one or more Universities.” Today, more than 220,000 students are enrolled on 16 university campuses across the state and at the NC School of Science and Mathematics, the country’s first public, residential high school for gifted students.
Director of Research
Erin Hopper, PhD is the Director of Research for the UNC System Office. One component of her role is directing UNC ROI, including managing the competitive process for distribution of research funds in six strategically important priority areas. Her role also involves promoting the commercialization of technologies within the UNC system, providing timely communication and guidance to chief research officers at UNC institutions, increasing opportunities for students to participate in undergraduate research, and communicating the significance of UNC research to the broader community.
Before joining the staff at the UNC System Office, Erin served as Director of Training Initiatives in Biomedical and Biological Sciences (TIBBS) in the Office of Graduate Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Erin received her B.S. in chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earned her PhD in chemistry from Duke University, and completed her postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).