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NC State’s Strategic Research Areas

Each day, faculty here are addressing the defining issues and opportunities of our time. See where we make our mark.

image of the belltower lit red

NC State researchers don’t shy away from a challenge. Instead, we meet society’s most pressing problems with big ideas and bold solutions.

Whether we’re finding ways to make communities healthier or harnessing data to solve previously unsolvable problems, the work we do here leads to real outcomes.

Now, we’re introducing five strategic research areas that define our focus — and show how our efforts fit into the world around us.

By highlighting NC State’s role in these areas, we’re also uncovering new collaborations that can benefit everyone.

We’re bringing together faculty across disciplines to tackle shared problems. We’re working with peer universities to further shared ambitions. And we’re connecting our experts to government and industry leaders with shared goals.

Designing Healthy and Resilient Societies

We cultivate a strong, healthful world. NC State researchers find innovative ways to improve our well-being — whether they’re putting precision medicine to work or they’re using textile technology to 3D-print fibers that better mimic those in the human body.

Here, we make healthier animals and more nutritious crops. And we set our sights on adaptive, holistic solutions to better our communities, our economy and the changing environment.

Regenerative medicine

Supplementing the body’s healing power


Using biological data to solve real-world scenarios

Mental health and wellness

Holistically building better lives

Sustainable community design

Finding innovative housing solutions that reduce environmental impact

Precision agriculture

Maximizing production of crops while minimizing risk

Harnessing Data for Decision Making

We combat complex problems with quality data. In an increasingly data-centric world, our researchers are improving the information we collect — and making sure it’s used for good. We team up with policy experts and use analytics to predict natural disasters and emerging global trends. And we connect with industry leaders to advance promising fields such as quantum computing.

Data visualization and modeling

Translating data for clear communication

Business intelligence

Using technology to make informed business decisions

Data sciences and analytics

Turning data into actionable insights

Machine learning

Automating analytical model building

Digital ethics

Driving policies about the conscientious use of data

Enriching the Human Experience

We examine the world around us and use what we learn to benefit future generations. Our faculty collaborate across disciplines to study our past, our present and what it means to be human. And the scientific discoveries we’re making today will become tomorrow’s fundamentals in fields like chemistry and physics.

Whether we’re bringing historical events to life with virtual reality, probing the mysteries of deep space or making students and teachers more resilient, we’re turning endeavors of self-discovery into real-world insights.

Digital humanities

Enhancing humanities scholarship through technology

Intellectual exploration and discovery

Questioning our world to gain deeper understanding

Arts and creativity

Pushing boundaries through imaginative thinking

Human-centered design

Improving interactions with products and environments

Educational innovation

Rethinking education systems for better outcomes

Creating Safe, Secure and Intelligent Systems

We put innovative technology to work to make smarter machines, more efficient processes and safer communities. We’re accelerating artificial intelligence through new training techniques that take a fraction of the time. And our researchers are developing cutting-edge, electronic-based teaching methods projected to change the face of education.


Using research-informed strategies to improve reading proficiency

Community psychology

Understanding social context to create better communities

Internet of Things

Introducing intelligence and connectedness to objects

Advanced materials and manufacturing

Optimizing materials and processes

Artificial intelligence

Training computer systems to solve and anticipate complex problems

Driving Food, Water and Energy Solutions

We respond to a growing local and global population with sustainable solutions. NC State research benefits the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. And it promotes resource conservation through initiatives like PowerAmerica, a collaboration with the Department of Energy to create cheaper, more efficient semiconductors.

Renewable energy

Collecting energy from naturally replenishable resources

Resource management

Developing systems and technologies to be better stewards of our planet

Plant sciences

Advancing discoveries in plant research — from food to fibers and beyond

Air and water filtration

Purifying the building blocks we need to survive

Changing environments

Finding adaptive solutions to environmental challenges