Centers and Institutes

Centers and institutes are established within the University to strengthen and enrich multidisciplinary programs of research, public service, or instruction conducted by the faculty and staff. They also may provide undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with added research opportunities, facilities, and assistance, as well as enhance their involvement in public service and educational activities. Centers and institutes also have a strong positive impact on the economic development of the state by providing job opportunities, supplying technical assistance and training, fostering community development, and enhancing the transfer of new technologies. By engaging in partnerships with organizations such as private or corporate sponsors, educational institutions, and federal or state agencies, centers serve as an important means to address the diverse mission of the University.

NOTE: The Centers and Institutes listed on this page are only those that have been established as UNC Charlotte Institutional Centers under the procedures set forth in University Policy #314. A Dean may wish to establish a pilot center that meets certain needs within the college but does not yet meet the standard for creating a UNC Charlotte Institutional Center. Pilot centers may be established for a two-year period and, with appropriate review, extended to five years, but must then be proposed as an institutional center or be discontinued.


Urban Institute

Contact: Lori Thomas, Ph.D. 704-687-7037
Description: The institute is a nonpartisan, applied research and community outreach center at UNC Charlotte. Founded in 1969, it provides services including technical assistance and training in operations and data management; public opinion surveys; and research and analysis around economic, environmental, and social issues affecting the Charlotte region.

Research Centers

Contact: Wenwu Tang, Ph.D., 704-687-5988
Description: The Center for Applied GIS is an interdisciplinary research center that addresses pressing global resource and sustainability concerns through analysis of human-environment interactions at multiple spatial, temporal, and decision-making scales. We resolve complex questions by integrating theory from the geospatial, natural, and social sciences coupled with advanced modeling techniques and high-performance computing.

Contact:Charles V. Lee, Ph.D., 704-687-8608
Description: The complexity of biomedical issues requires collaborative and multi-disciplinary efforts to make optimal advancements. The CBES mission addresses this by fostering interdisciplinary collaborations for advancing biomedical engineering research and development using a systems approach. As such CBES provides the infrastructure for faculty and students at UNC Charlotte and biomedical researchers in the Charlotte metropolitan area, to collaborate on critical biomedical issues. In this way our CBES researchers are able to synergize their expertise to strongly impact biomedical engineering research, development, and practices.

Contact: Dan Janies, Ph.D., 704-687-1742 and Adam Reitzel, Ph.D., 704-687-5018
Description: The Center for Computational Intelligence to Predict Health and Environmental Risks (CIPHER) is a university-wide center with constituents from the College of Computing and Informatics, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Health and Human Services, and the College of Education. CIPHER’s goals are to coalesce expertise in computer science, bioinformatics, software and information systems, biological sciences, math, geography, public health, data science, education, and communications.

Contact: Jun Xu, Ph.D. 704-687-8240
Description: The North Carolina Battery Complexity, Autonomous Vehicle and Electrification Research Center, the BATT CAVE, is driving innovation by unraveling the intricate world of batteries and their applications that will drive the next generation of autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and intelligence systems.

Contact:Glenn Boreman, Ph.D., 704-687-8173
Description: The Opto Center provides cost-effective access to specialized expertise and apparatus in optics, imaging, and nano-fabrication, including: plasma etching, dielectric deposition and metallization; optical & e-beam lithography; optical, e-beam, & atomic-force microscopy; x-ray diffraction; 3-D nano-scale printing; freeform micro-milling and magnetorheological polishing; interferometric surface characterization; spectroscopic measurements of refractive index, attenuation, reflection, transmission, emissivity, and angular scattering; optical design services; fiber optics; and laser technical support. Our highly qualified support staff can perform measurements and fabrications, design and develop prototypes, or provide training to users to operate our facilities independently. We welcome teaming opportunities with both academic and industry partners.

Contact: Ed Morse, Ph.D., 704-687-8342
Description: The Center for Precision Metrology is an interdisciplinary association of UNC Charlotte faculty and student researchers, allied with industrial partners in the research, development and integration of precision metrology as applied to manufacturing. Working with dimensional tolerances on the order of 10 parts per million or better, precision metrology encompasses the methods of production and inspection in manufacturing, measurement, algorithms, tolerance representation, and the integration of metrology into factory quality systems.

Currently operating as a graduated Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC), the Center for Precision Metrology is charged with breaking new ground in precision metrology by addressing real-world industrial concerns. Through the associated Affiliates Program, industrial and Center researchers collaborate on projects that involve generic and specific manufacturing metrology problems. in support of the Center’s research efforts, affiliate members contribute funds and equipment that are directly applied to student projects and research assistantships. The CPM works closely with the UNC Charlotte Lee College of Engineering’s internationally recognized Advanced Manufacturing program as well.

Additional specific research is funded through contracts with industrial partners to address proprietary application and development projects. Government funding is solicited for sponsoring fundamental and large-scale metrology projects. Additionally, the Center is partnered with lead university UCLA as an NSF Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for Scalable and Integrated Nanomanufacturing (SINAM) along with the University of California, Berkeley; Stanford University; University of California, San Diego; and HP labs.

Contact: Gordon Hull, Ph.D., 704-687-7804
Description: As the Ethics Center for North Carolina’s urban research university, The Center for Professional and Applied Ethics works to promote a culture of robust research and discussion in ethics and the application of ethical research and debate in the University, Charlotte community, and beyond.

The Center for Professional and Applied Ethics collaborates with a range of constituencies, providing ethics expertise and research as a foundation for ethical deliberation. Together we shape an interdisciplinary intellectual and moral space in which people can critically assess, thoughtfully discuss, and strategically address ethical challenges in areas such as business, healthcare, information technology and popular culture.

Contact: Yongqiang Chu, Ph.D., 704-687-5141
Description: The Childress Klein Center for Real Estate at UNC Charlotte was established to further the knowledge of real estate, public policy and urban economics in the professional community through its teaching, research and community outreach activities. It has been ranked among the 20 most active research institutions in real estate for the past decade.

The Center administers the M.S. in Real Estate program, the MBA concentration and certificate programs in real estate finance and development, and manages programming and outreach to the Real Estate Alumni Association and Real Estate Advisory Board.

Contact: Srinivas S. Pulugurtha, Ph.D., 704-687-1233
Description: The Center’s mission is to contribute to framing the challenges, providing leadership, and creating the solutions that will accelerate the technical and social shifts needed to make our built environment more sustainable.

The IDEAS Center was created to focus university expertise on the challenge of creating and advancing a more sustainable built environment. We believe decision-makers seeking an alternative to “business as usual” need leadership and support from the academic community. Together we need to create, distill, translate, and disseminate technology and guidance documents that will rapidly transform and advance sustainable infrastructure, materials, building and site design innovations and practices.

Contact: Daniel Janies, Ph.D., 704-687-1742 and Zachary Wartell, Ph.D., 704-687-8442
Description:  The Ribarsky Center for Visual Analytics is a highly interdisciplinary center that applies interactive visualization and visual analytics to a variety of large-scale and complex problems in science, engineering, medicine, business, design, and the arts. It was established in January 2005 and includes over 30 faculty members and over a hundred graduate and undergraduate students.

The faculty at The Ribarsky Center for Visual Analytics is truly interdisciplinary with members from CS, SIS, Engineering, English, Geography and Earth Sciences, Architecture, Ethics, and other departments.  The Ribarsky Center for Visual Analytics also has one of the deepest programs anywhere in fundamental visualization, visual analytics, and human-computer interaction research with 9 faculty members doing work in these areas. The main Visual Analytics Lab provides an exciting, state-of-the-art environment for visualization and HCI research and application development with an abundance of advanced displays, interaction devices, and a large, multiscreen stereoscopic projection system. These unique facilities are available for use to all Center faculty and students. In addition, faculty and students enjoy a highly interactive and collaborative environment through the Center’s seminar series, invited speakers, symposia, workshops, social events, and other activities.