GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida is spearheading the search for solutions to society’s most ever-present challenges through its latest initiative.

Combining expertise of faculty across all 16 colleges, UF has committed more than $17 million to fund eight “moonshot” collaborative research projects that will affect change in the areas society needs it most. The College of Education will lead, directly or in part, three of the eight projects deemed vital to improving life in the 21st century

Each college was invited to submit up to two proposals on pressing issues they seek to resolve. The College of Education was awarded funding to support and lead both of its initiatives: “Precision Platform for Learning & Life” and “The A to Z’s of Early Childhood: Communicating the Science of Early Childhood Development and Learning to Those Who Need It Most from a Trusted Source.” Pavlo Antonenko, COE associate professor, will act as Co-Principal Investigator to support the Florida Museum of Natural History and Thompson Institute’s initiative: “Scientist in Every Florida School.”

Precision Platform for Learning & Life

College of Education and College of Engineering faculty will develop and enhance learning and instructional technologies that will change the landscape of learning nationally and internationally. Advancements will dramatically improve learning outcomes and optimize learning experiences for learners of all ages.

The A to Z’s of Early Childhood

The Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies will establish a dynamic communications hub that disseminates actionable information to guide early childhood practice and policy and elevate the university as a leader in the science of early childhood. In collaboration with fellow UF colleges, centers and entities, information will be distributed to practitioners, policymakers and families across the country and globe.

Scientist in Every Florida School

Antonenko will work alongside the Florida Museum of Natural History and Thompson Institute to provide the 2.6 million K-12 students in Florida access to UF researchers via virtual and in-person classroom visits and offer their teachers networking opportunities to enhance their scientific knowledge. The program expects to see increased student achievement, expanded knowledge of the STEM field and its careers and improved teaching practices in science classrooms across the state.

Through the university-wide initiative, UF aspires to redefine the role of a land-grant university and solidify its standing as one of the most comprehensive universities in the country. As the challenges impacting society are interconnected, combining expertise from various fields of study is the only way to improve life for humankind and drive lasting change.

Funded programs will be conducted for up to four years, though the challenges facing society will not necessarily be solved in that timespan. However, results will be measured each semester to track progress toward viable solutions. To learn more about these audacious initiatives, visit UF Advancement.