Mission Critical: Research Taking Flight | College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
January 17, 2024

Mission Critical: Research Taking Flight

The mission-critical nature of research across top tier universities encompasses vast responsibility and opportunities. The impact of meaningful research is evident across driving progress, fostering innovation, and contributing to the betterment of society at large. It is a powerful tool for addressing current challenges and laying the groundwork for a more sustainable and informed future.

Research and discovery are integral to the liberal arts and social sciences as they facilitate intellectual exploration, contribute to informed decision-making, address societal challenges, and enrich the educational experience. They play a vital role in shaping our understanding of humanity and promoting positive societal change. Their role is evermore important in our society today than ever!

A liberal arts and social sciences degree equips students to not just secure a livelihood but also to cultivate a purposeful and fulfilling life. The broad and holistic benefits of this degree include critical thinking and problem-solving skills, communication and interpersonal skills, cultural competence and global awareness, ethical and moral reasoning, adaptability and lifelong learning, creativity and innovation. All these skills are needed to cultivate a well-rounded individual who is prepared to navigate the complexities of life, contribute meaningfully to society, and continue learning throughout their lifetime.

Since his arrival to UNT in July of 2023, Dr. Albert Bimper, executive dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, has set out to make it clear that the college's highest responsibility is to Amplify Human Potential to Propel Transformation. Aligned with the mission of the University of North Texas, CLASS is poised and positioning itself to further demonstrate its commitment to research and discovery as they prepare students and make innovative strides to address the opportunities of our rapidly changing world.

The University of North Texas is a tier one research university. CLASS is taking a bold and prominent stride forward in the pursuit of excellence to invest in research, discovery, and creative activities as a college-wide priority. This investment yields a range of benefits for the university, students, and society at large. A bright future is on the horizon for CLASS research.

As a college, CLASS plans to emphasize better tracking of funding, providing comprehensive reporting, and increasing its visibility at the university level to reflect a commitment to transparency and recognition of the valuable work conducted within the college.

The initiatives to encourage faculty to apply for larger funding and to facilitate the application process will contribute to a more robust research environment. The efforts to connect faculty with the right resources and people are aimed at enhancing collaboration and the overall research experience.

The focus on building an undergraduate research program is particularly exemplary. Providing students with opportunities to showcase their work, explore career options, and connect with potential employers and stakeholders is crucial for their academic and professional development. It also underscores the importance of integrating practical research experiences into the undergraduate curriculum.

Setting a strategic path forward and navigating the complexity of variables to achieve these goals requires thoughtful leadership. That is why Dr. Lisa Nagaoka has been appointed as the new Associate Dean for Research in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of North Texas. This is indeed a significant development for the academic and research community. Her dedication to increasing research visibility and supporting faculty members in securing funding will have a positive impact on the college's academic and research activities.

The impact of Nagaoka's research is demonstrated through her long list of peer-reviewed publications and the fact that her research has been supported by diverse funding sources including the National Science Foundation and Fulbright, among others. Dr. Nagaoka's research has focused in areas that include the application of evolutionary ecological foraging models to understand human subsistence patterns and the use of zooarchaeological data in conservation biology.

"The associate deans play critical roles in supporting and growing the research enterprise at UNT particularly as advocates and liaisons between their colleges and the university research office," said Dr. Aaron Roberts, Associate Vice President of Research & Innovation. "Dr. Nagaoka has been a great partner for our office in CLASS and I look forward to working with her in her new position."

Dr. Nagaoka will play a pivotal role in creating a vibrant research culture within CLASS, leading to positive opportunities and outcomes for both faculty and students and contributing significantly to the UNT academic community's advancement.


Written by: Molly Davenport, Sr. Communications Specialist for CLASS