Strategic Research Initiatives Program: Areas for Strategic Growth, Leadership and Innovation

The Strategic Research Initiatives (SRI) program is a partnership between Academic Affairs, University Development, and Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education. Cal Poly resides in a uniquely beautiful environment and as a comprehensive university provides education in the arts, sciences, and technology under the umbrella of Learn by Doing. Our work is grounded in the teacher-scholar model allowing us to create new knowledge that helps us to see the world in new ways and enabling us to create opportunities that address fundamental problems that face the Central Coast of California and beyond.  

The Strategic Research Initiatives program funds innovative proposals that promise to transform Cal Poly and the surrounding community in California, with the underlying goals: 

  • Enhance academic and student success 

  • Create positive economic and social impacts 

  • Enrich personal wellbeing of faculty, students, staff and community of Central Coast 

  • Ensure financial success and sustainability 

Under the direction of Renee Reijo Pera, Vice President of Research and Economic Development, Cal Poly launched the Strategic Research Initiative program in 2019-2020. Through a rigorous review process involving students, faculty, administration, community leaders, and potential funding organizations, we funded 11 projects across five broad themes that represent opportunities for student engagement, community change and development, and support for faculty, staff, and students at Cal Poly. Please select a theme to learn more about the specific projects and work that faculty, students, staff and community members are collaborating on to transform Cal Poly and the world. 

Central Coast Place-Based Research 

Projects in this theme seek to create communities that are diverse and flourishing, while remaining respectful and cognizant of Northern Chumash sovereignty and amplifying the voices of diverse groups whose voices and experiences are too often missing from dominant conceptions of the Central Coast. This work is central to our efforts to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community that reflects and serves the diverse people of California. 

Community Health 

Projects in this theme seek to respond to health concerns that disproportionately affect marginalized or minoritized communities, including a lack of access to health care. Further, projects in this theme investigate questions that ask us to think about health epidemiology and prevention, particularly as it relates to our understanding of food, nutrition and their futures. 

Data Science & Analytics 

Faculty and students in this theme are working to shape Cal Poly’s future approaches to data science and analytics, with a particular emphasis on the truly unique space Cal Poly can occupy and create within the realm of data science. 

With its emphasis on Learn by Doing and applied work, Cal Poly occupies a unique space in the data science and data analytics area. Faculty and students in this theme are developing a new, innovative cross-campus framework to enable us to better identify and share opportunities for Cal Poly to make contributions as a data science and analytics leader in California, the nation, and beyond. 

Environment of California and Beyond 

California faces a suite of complex current and future environmental challenges, including problems with fires that cost the state approximately $80 billion in 2019. Projects in this theme respond to the urgent need for research-informed strategies, collaborations, and outreach to overcome these challenges, with particular emphasis on the consequences of wildland-urban interface fires, the blue economy and climate change with strong justice, economic, social, and environmental benefits. 

Technology Workforce 

Cal Poly plays a crucial role in training the technological and scientific workforce. Yet, we also know that the skills and competencies required to both be successful in and to shape the future of technology are changing. Projects in this theme are aimed at revolutionizing the technology workforce, thinking about how technology can support resource and space usage, and transforming access to cybersecurity to ensure Cal Poly’s leadership in both technological and scientific workforce development. 

19/20 Call for proposals (archive)

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