Research Initiatives

Research in the College is as diverse as our academic disciplines and encompasses the arts and humanities, the natural and physical sciences, and the social sciences. The innovation and creativity in our research makes us an exciting and interdisciplinary place.

Explore some of our major research initiatives and federally-supported programs, and send any updates to this list to

Research Initiatives in the Arts & Humanities

Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE)

The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is arranged alphabetically, like most dictionaries. What is different about DARE is that it shows where people use the words that are included. We all know, for example, that Americans have many names for the kind of sandwich that includes meats, cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes, etc., served in a long bun. What DARE can tell you (and can often illustrate through the use of maps based on fieldwork) is where the words hero, hoagie, grinder, sub, torpedo, Cuban, etc. are the local terms for this sandwich.


​Harvey Goldberg Center for the Study of the Contemporary History

Harvey Goldberg was an inspired, passionate teacher who made a permanent impression on thousands of undergraduate  and graduate students.  He was, indeed, one of the greatest teachers of our time. The Harvey Goldberg Center for the Study of the Contemporary History hosts campus lectures, provides support for academic conferences and other symposia and projects.


George L. Mosse Program in History

The George L. Mosse Program in History honors the legacy of George L. Mosse, one of the most influential schoalrs of his generation, who's work encompassed European history, and ranged from English Constitutional Law, Lutheran theology, to the history of fascism, Jewish history, and the history of masculinity. The program honors his legacy through lectures, fellowships and outreach.


​The Language Institute

The Language Institute teaches a series of lecture series and workshops for language instructors and graduate students. 


Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions (LISAR)

The Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions (LISAR) seeks to understand and explore the intimate yet often bitter connections that have existed historically among Jews, Christians and Muslims.


Max-Kade Institute for German-American Studies

The Max-Kade Institute for German-American Studies conducts research examining how German-speaking immigrants and their descendants have shaped their North American environment and been shaped by it.  The institute's outreach efforts center on bringing a better understanding of issues of German-American immigration, history, culture, and language to a general public and school children.


Research Initiatives in the Natural, Physical & Mathematical Sciences

Center for High Throughput Computing

The Center for High Throughput Computing offers computing resources for use by researchers.  High throughput computer (HTC) is the shared utilization of autonomous resources toward a common goal, where all the elements are optimized for maximizing computational throughput. This initaitive is funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Department of Energy (DOE) and. the National Science Foundation (NSF).


Chequamegon Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study

The Chequamegon Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study aims to understand and quantify emissions and sequestration of carbon and water in forested and wetland ecosystems of Wisconsin's Northwoods. State-of-the-art research sites and measurement towers exist on Wisconsin National Forest, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and private lands.


Daya Bay Neutrino Experiment

The Daya Bay Neutrino Experiment is an international collaboration of institutes is operating in Hong Kong under the direction of  scientists from the Physics Department.  Twin detectors are searching for building blocks of the universe that are theorized to have been created in the Big Bang: neutrinos and antineutrinos.


IceCube Neutrino Observatory

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory is a particle detector at the South Pole that records the interactions of a nearly massless sub-atomic particle called the neutrino. IceCube searches for neutrinos from the most violent astrophysical sources: events like exploding stars, gamma ray bursts, and cataclysmic phenomena involving black holes and neutron stars. The IceCube telescope is a powerful tool in the search for dark matter, and could reveal the new physical processes associated with the enigmatic origin of the highest energy particles in nature.


Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider, located is 300 feet below the French-Swiss border, is where UW scientists are playing a central role in a massive experiment to solve the biggest mysteries in physics.  The Large Hadron Collider, a project of the European Organization for Nuclear Research or CERN, is slamming particles together at nearly the speed of light, bursting them open and providing an unprecedented look at an atom’s innards.


Madison Plasma Dynamo Experiment

The Madison Plasma Dynamo Experiment (MPDX) is currently housed in Sterling Hall.  The facility carries out experiments on plasma, the magnetic fields that are the building blocks of stars and galaxies.  


​North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research

North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research is this project studies the ecology of lakes as one of a network of sites established by the National Science Foundation. Research focuses on how biophysical setting, climate, and changing land use and cover interact to shape lake characteristics and dynamics over time. The primary study sites include a set of seven northern Wisconsin and four southern Wisconsin lakes and their surrounding landscapes. The project, which started in 1981, is administered by the Center for Limnology at the UW-Madison. 


​Research on Wetland Restoration

Professor Joy Zedler and botany students are developing methods of restoring wetlands, especially marshes and sedge meadows. Based on the resulting science, the team develops recommendations for improving restoration practices statewide. The information is disseminated statewide and beyond in peer-reviewed journals, and in a series of leaflets provided on their Web site. This work benefits landowners who want to restore wetlands, and nongovernmental organizations concerned with wetland restoration.


South African Large Telescope (SALT)

The South African Large Telescope (SALT) is a collaborative project of the UW-Madison Astronomy Department and an international partnership of observatories and research universities, SALT near Sunderland, South Africa is the largest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere.


Wisconsin State Climatology Office

The Wisconsin State Climatology Office manages data for climate monitoring, provides climate information to Wisconsin residents and government agencies, develops "value-added" products for users and impact applications, and conducts applied climate research.


Wisconsin State Herbarium

The Wisconsin State Herbarium is a museum collection of dried, labeled plants of state, national and international importance, which is used extensively for taxonomic and ecological research, as well as for teaching and public service. It contains the world's largest collection of Wisconsin plants, about one-third of its 1,000,000 specimens having been collected within the state.


Research Initiatives in the Social Sciences

Institute for Research on Poverty

The Institute for Research on Poverty in the College of Letters & Science was named one of three Poverty Research Centers by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2011.  The Institute to cover three topical themes examining employment and wage growth, family change and poverty and the intergenerational transmission of poverty among children, youth and families.


History of Cartography Project

The History of Cartography Project is a research, editorial, and publishing venture drawing international attention to the history of maps and mapping. The Project's major work is the multi-volume History of Cartography series. Its inter-disciplinary approach brings together scholars in the arts, sciences, and humanities.


Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies

The Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies is unique interdisciplinary collaboration that promotes the understanding of science, technology and medicine as human enterprises. Science and technology studies (STS) is a growing field of study that seeks to understand how science and technology shape human lives and livelihoods and how society and culture, in turn, shape the development of science and technology.


​Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience

The Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience, led by Lab Director Richard J. Davidson (Psychology), engages in a broad program of research on the brain mechanisms underlying emotion and emotion regulation in normal individuals throughout the life course. The populations we study include normal middle-aged and older adults, infants, toddlers, children and adolescents as well as individuals with various psychiatric disorders.


La Follette School of Public Affairs

The La Follette School of Public Affairs engages in research and public service activities that benefit the world, nation, state and local community by showcasing recent research developments and increasing understanding of important issues. 


Midlife Development in the US (MIDUS)

In 1994-95, a national study of health and wellbeing began at UW-Madison. This was the first national survey of Midlife Development in the US (MIDUS). It is long running study of the interplay between social and psychological factors and physical health. The study has involved more than 7,000 participants.


​Modeling School Finance Reform in Wisconsin

Modeling School Finance Reform in Wisconsin in cooperation with the School Finance Network, a collaborative effort of all the major education organizations in the state - representing school boards, school administrators, teachers, and parents - designed and constructed a computer simulation model to help analyze the impacts of various school funding reform proposals.


​Research on Education, Deliberation and Decision-making (REDD)

Research on Education, Deliberation and Decision-making (REDD) in Wisconsin School Districts seeks to better understand how districts make decisions by following three school districts in Wisconsin: Beloit, Elmbrook, and West Bend. REDD is investigating the ways that local stakeholders reach decisions about education.


Wisconsin Longitudinal Study

The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) is a long-term study of a random sample of 10,317 men and women who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957. The WLS is the first of the large longitudinal studies of American adolescents, and provides the first large-scale opportunity to study the life course from late adolescence through the early/mid-60s, in the context of a complete record of ability, aspiration, and achievement.


Looking for Research Resources?

Visit the Office of Research Services (ORS) for more information about research resources in the College of Letters & Science and at UW-Madison.