New fund to encourage UW-Eau Claire-Mayo research collaborations

| Julie Poquette

Dr. Vicki Lord Larson sees value for everyone involved in faculty-student research.  

Vicki Lord Larson

Dr. Vicki Lord Larson

Her perspective has led Larson, UW-Eau Claire chancellor emerita and a former faculty member in the university’s communication sciences and disorders department, to increase her already generous support for research through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.

The Vicki Lord Larson Collaborative Research Fund will encourage partnerships between researchers at UW-Eau Claire and Mayo Clinic Health System — helping bring to life the vision behind a master collaborative research agreement that the institutions announced last summer.

The UW-Eau Claire-Mayo Clinic Health System agreement aims to increase opportunities for research collaboration between the two institutions, create new avenues of learning for UW-Eau Claire students, and make way for projects that will lead to improved health and wellness in the community.

The Vicki Lord Larson Collaborative Research Fund was announced today as UW-Eau Claire alumnus Dr. Timothy Nelson was named director of Research and Innovation for Mayo Clinic Health System in northwest Wisconsin. In his new role, Nelson, also a Mayo Clinic physician and researcher, will help move the UW-Eau Claire-Mayo Clinic Health System agreement forward. (Learn more.)

The Vicki Lord Larson Collaborative Research Fund will incentivize UW-Eau Claire faculty to develop collaborative research projects that also engage students and Mayo Clinic Health System researchers. The fund will support faculty by allowing for reassigned time from teaching responsibilities to pursue the research. Recipients may use the award to fund research for a semester, over the summer or during Winterim. The fund also will provide awards to the students participating in the research projects.

Larson’s appreciation for the importance of faculty-student research stems from her own experiences as a faculty member.

“To me, teaching and research are interrelated,” Larson says. “When I was a professor in communication sciences and disorders, my teaching was based on current research and provided evidence-based practice for clinical procedures. Likewise, I engaged in research to advance knowledge and develop new insights and protocols in the profession.”

At the same time, involving students in research improves their learning experience, Larson says.

“Faculty-student collaborative research is an excellent teaching tool for engaging students in enhancing their critical thinking skills as they systematically and objectively analyze and solve real-world problems.”

Larson says she “valued tremendously” her time doing research with students.

"Students often told me they liked focusing specifically on a problem and then were excited about discovering answers they felt made a difference," Larson says. "They took pride in making a difference."

The Vicki Lord Larson Collaborative Research Fund adds to a number of funds that Larson has established in support of UW-Eau Claire faculty-student research.

“Dr. Lord Larson’s ongoing support for research is making a significant difference for students and faculty,” says Dr. Karen Havholm, assistant vice chancellor for research at UW-Eau Claire. “This latest example, the Collaborative Research Fund, will help to jumpstart Mayo Clinic Health System-UW-Eau Claire collaborative research. Not only will specific individual students and faculty benefit from funding for their projects, but having the opportunity available will itself stimulate more ideas for research collaboration with Mayo.”

The first award from the Vicki Lord Larson Collaborative Research Fund will be during the spring 2019 semester, and Larson looks forward to the impact the fund will have.

“I hope this fund will encourage UW-Eau Claire faculty-student researchers to collaborate with Mayo physicians and staff to address a myriad of health care issues,” Larson says. “Working together will solve more problems than working separately.”

Top photo caption: UW-Eau Claire students present the findings of their faculty-student collaborative research projects during the university's annual Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity.