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March 14, 2012 Volume 33, No. 24

Mizzou Advantage consolidates initiatives to increase effectiveness


Innovation plays role in interdisciplinary research campuswide

From the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s testing lab to the psychological sciences department’s Brain Imaging Center, innovation drives nearly every aspect of research at Mizzou. 

A change to the campuswide Mizzou Advantage program will reflect the expansive role that innovation plays in interdisciplinary research.

Officials announced in January that the program’s Managing Innovation initiative was integrated into the 

four other Mizzou Advantage areas: One Health/One Medicine, Food for the Future, Media of the Future and Sustainable Energy. 

Managing Innovation supported research that analyzes how innovation and technological change affects business, government and society. Because addressing the consequences of innovation is crucial to the four interdisciplinary areas, Managing Innovation needs to be part of the other initiatives, Provost Brian Foster said.

“From the beginning, Managing Innovation was envisioned as an overarching subject, with the other four initiatives providing virtual labs for studying the consequences of innovation,” Foster said.  “Over time, however, it has emerged as a theme that runs deeply through each area.”

Meg Phillips, Mizzou Advantage program director, 

said that though there is no longer a faculty facilitator for Managing Innovation, opportunities for research are still plentiful. 

“Our focus on the consequences of technological innovation will remain a central component of Mizzou Advantage, and funding will remain available to seed grant-funded projects, sponsor symposia and to further our understanding of innovation’s role in the four areas,” Phillips said. 

Carsten Strathausen, who facilitated Managing Innovation since Mizzou Advantage launched in 2010, returned to his full-time role as an associate professor of German and Russian studies.

Several successful research collaborations have already sprung from the Managing Innovation area, said Charles Davis, an associate professor of journalism and a facilitator for the Media of the Future initiative. More are expected now that it has been integrated into the rest of the program.

One success story is Communication Markets, a collaboration between the journalism school and the 

Trulaske College of Business. The program analyzes how new media platforms have changed the newspaper business, such as through massive layoffs of journalists, the loss of advertising for print and the challenges of advertising online. 

Communication Markets was one of 64 projects funded by Mizzou Advantage grants in 2010 and 2011. Murali Mantrala, professor of marketing, credits the $20,000 grant with jumpstarting an important partnership between the journalism school and business college. 

“The journalism school can provide access to newspaper companies with their vast reserves of financial data, but that data has never been plugged into economic models for analysis,” which is where the business college’s expertise comes in, Mantrala said. “Now we’re working together.” 

That kind of interdisciplinary collaboration is the key to raising the university’s stature and impact, two main goals of Mizzou Advantage, Davis said. 

To find out more about Mizzou Advantage, visit

— Tara Ballenger