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About Our University-Wide Institutes

The University of Nebraska system has invested in three interdisciplinary, University-wide institutes, each focused on areas in which the University and the state has unique strengths. Through these institutes, talented experts from across our four campuses come together, finding innovative solutions to challenges that face our state, our nation, and our world. 

Excited child painting with their hands


The Buffett Early Childhood Institute promotes the development and learning of children from birth through age 8. Since its creation in 2013, the Institute has established itself as a state voice and national leader in the early childhood field. In all its work, the Institute emphasizes that ensuring access to early care and education is only a first step. The healthy growth and development of Nebraska’s children, and the economic vitality and prosperity of the state, depend on ensuring quality and continuity in early care and education for all children and recognizing that early childhood professionals are essential to providing that quality care.

“The Buffett Institute draws on the resources and expertise across all four campuses at the University of Nebraska while conducting research with real-world impact and supporting the workforce needs of the state. We collaborate with campuses, communities, families, educators, and other early childhood professionals so that together we can best meet the needs of children and families.”

Walter S. Gilliam, Executive Director, Buffett Early Childhood Institute

Walter S. Gilliam joined the Buffett Institute as executive director in March 2023 and holds the Richard D. Holland Presidential Chair in Early Childhood Development. He is a national expert in early childhood development and education, with research interests that include early childhood education and intervention policy analysis, the impact of early childhood education programs on children’s school readiness, and effective methods for reducing classroom behavior problems and preschool expulsion. Previously, Gilliam was the director of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University.


The National Strategic Research Institute helps the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal agencies meet their national security objectives. Hundreds of scientists, strategists and students from the University of Nebraska and NSRI provide innovative research and deliver tangible, field-deployable solutions to help keep our military and country safe.

One of only 15 DoD-designated University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs) in the country, NSRI was established in 2012 in partnership with U.S. Strategic Command to ensure the United States’ safety and preparedness against increasingly sophisticated attacks—whether from chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, highly infectious disease or nuclear weapons. NSRI’s robust research portfolio addresses the entire threat spectrum through five focus areas:

  • Strategic deterrence and nuclear programs
  • Chemical and biological threat detection and countermeasure development
  • Medical countermeasures
  • Food, agriculture and environment security
  • Threat-based training and exercise support

“To help keep our warfighters and first responders safe, NSRI and University of Nebraska scientists, researchers and students have delivered on more than 170 projects with total awarded funding of more than $250 million. Nebraska has a unique asset in hosting a DoD-designated UARC — our experts, capabilities, and technologies continue to meet today’s missions, while looking ahead to the missions of the future.”

Maj. Gen., USAF (Ret.) Rick Evans, NSRI Executive Director


Since 2010, the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute (DWFI) at the University of Nebraska has worked to address one of the greatest challenges facing the global community: feeding a population expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050. DWFI helps farmers everywhere increase production while using water more effectively.

It contributes scientific and policy research that informs decision-making and educates future leaders to ensure food security for generations to come. DWFI has invested more than $3.6 million in support of postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate students on all four University of Nebraska campuses since the inception of its student support program in 2014.

"We are proud of all we’ve accomplished to begin to address one of the 21st century’s most urgent challenges: ensuring global food security in the face of a changing climate and increasing competition for scarce water resources.”

Dr. Peter McCornick, Executive Director, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute

DWFI partners with organizations around the world to enhance and amplify the expertise of its staff and 130+ Faculty Fellows at the University of Nebraska. Among these initiatives is its USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Irrigation and Mechanization Systems, which works to achieve sustainable irrigation and agricultural mechanization by small farmers in developing countries to break the cycle of poverty and hunger.


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