Darden Behavioral Research

Darden Behavioral Research

SIF130 Darden Behavioral Research - Behavioral Research for Society: Collaborative Infrastructure

Project Manager: Morela Hernandez and Leidy Klotz

Multi-functional research lab to facilitate multi-disciplinary collaboration in behavioral science research. Budget includes retrofitting facilities, equipment, software, and salaries for faculty/staff.

BoV Approved: December 2017

Project Dates: 4/24/2018 – 4/23/2021

Total Funding: $2,153,150

Executive Summary

This award proposes to create a collaborative research infrastructure between the schools of engineering, nursing, and Darden, and to develop of a research platform that will be open to the whole University, to facilitate the generation of new knowledge and solve pressing problems in business and society. This research infrastructure will directly contribute to the priority of thought leadership and research that is central to each school’s missions and strategy. 

Behavioral research has wide-ranging practical implications; efforts to date have contributed to: Diversity – through the correction of racial and gender biases in society (a collaboration between Batten and Darden); Sustainability – through the creation of more thoughtful decision-making practices across generations (a collaboration between SEAS, Architecture, and Darden); and Health – through the use of mindfulness and compassion to improve health outcomes (a collaboration between Nursing, Medicine, and Darden).  The proposed Behavioral Research for Society (BRS) research infrastructure is unique because, while it is hosted at Darden, it is fundamentally a university-wide resource available to researchers across grounds. Specifically, the BRS collaborative infrastructure will help support: 1) faculty (especially junior colleagues) who do not yet have sustained funding to support their desired research, and often face disruptive obstacles and gaps in their federal and private grant-based funding; and 2) researchers (i.e., faculty, post-docs, Ph.D. students) who apply (or want to apply) behavioral science in their research, but work in Schools where that is not yet the norm. Such faculty often have limited physical and social infrastructure for their own studies within their schools. 

This SIF award is intended to raise collective research productivity and reputation, and to further position UVA to lead in the application of behavioral science to solve society’s biggest problems across disciplines.

Current Status: Completed


This SIF investment has helped to establish UVA as a recognized leader in applied behavioral science research by: establishing unique cross-School laboratory facilities and collaborations to engage in this work; and by producing and disseminating scholarship that demonstrates UVA’s prominence in this area. 

These new SIF-supported facilities and collaborations were necessary to connect those studying the science of human behavior with those applying this science to make positive change in the world. Behavioral research has wide-ranging social possibilities, whether for equity – through the correction of racial and gender biases in society; for health – through the use of mindfulness and compassion to improve health outcomes; or for environmental sustainability – through the creation of more thoughtful decision-making practices across generations. Towards such goals, this SIF investment has forged new and substantive (e.g., co-authorship, co-advising, and Co-PI) collaborations between scholars in Darden, SEAS, A&S, Batten, Architecture, Curry, and Medicine. A new physical laboratory at Darden was also built and now serves as a dependable, self-sustaining, and cost-efficient resource for researchers applying behavioral insights. 

The collaboration spurred by this SIF investment has led to the production and sharing of high-impact scholarship including: numerous high-profile academic publications, including a Nature cover article; more than $500,000 in new external proposals funded, with more than $5,000,000 in external proposals in review; fourteen advanced research students supported by SIF funds who represent at least one underrepresented group; and six students supported by SIF funds who have earned tenure-track faculty positions at top universities (e.g., Cornell University, Indiana University, and the University of Washington). 

As a result of these SIF-enabled activities, UVA’s prominence in applied behavioral science is recognized in academic venues, including being selected to lead a year-long panel on the topic for Nature Sustainability. UVA’s prominence in this area has also been established through popular media coverage of SIF-enabled outcomes in venues such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Scientific American, and national newspapers on five continents. For UVA, this publicity has an Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) that exceeds $5 million and continues to grow.