Susan Renoe

Susan Renoe, Mizzou's associate vice chancellor for research development and strategic partnerships, is principal investigator on the $9 million NSF grant. Photo by Abbie Lankitus

By Courtney Perrett

Whether it’s petting a python, gazing at the stars or being transported back in time to the era of the dinosaurs, the fact remains: Science is fun. Researchers at the University of Missouri and around the world are working to bring their discoveries to the people who fund it and benefit from it. Through the leadership of the Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS), a National Science Foundation (NSF) center based at Mizzou, scientists at MU and universities across the nation are learning best practices for showing the impact of their research at the community level.

The NSF defines broader impacts as the societal benefits of research, but Susan Renoe, Mizzou’s associate vice chancellor for research development and strategic partnerships and assistant professor of strategic communication in the Missouri School of Journalism, describes broader impacts (BI) as “where research meets people — the impact that research has, beyond academics, where it filters into communities and changes lives.”

Continuously funded since 2013, the center recently received a $9 million injection from the NSF to expand its focus on the scholarship of broader impacts while diversifying the research ecosystem.

Led by Renoe, ARIS plays a part in fulfilling Mizzou’s land-grant mission by advancing policies and practices in research to make it accessible to all.

Over the past decade, ARIS has grown into a national epicenter for broader impacts, outreach and community engagement — so much so that Renoe has presented to the National Science Board and other federal groups about the importance of the societal benefits of research.

Renoe said that the federal government is focused on elevating research that not only prioritizes input from members of the public but creates opportunities for community engagement. Through participating in national conversation and policy about broader impacts, ARIS elevates research by providing resources and professional development opportunities for scientists spanning disciplines of science, technology, arts and the humanities.

As one of the nation’s leading research universities, Mizzou is the ideal place to house ARIS and steward this goal. “It is a testament to the fact that Mizzou is a place where we aren't afraid to try new and innovative things,” Renoe said.

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