Iowa State Professor and MacArthur Fellow establishes funds to support transdisciplinary research

AMES, Iowa – Lisa Schulte Moore, professor of natural resource ecology and management at Iowa State University and 2021 MacArthur Fellow, recently established two funds in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in honor of the many collaborations she’s taken part in throughout her career at the university.

The Perennial Partnerships Fund will promote transdisciplinary research at Iowa State on agricultural systems that foster continuous living cover on the landscape. Distributions from this endowed fund will be administered by the college to support creative faculty who are advancing ecological, social and economic sciences related to perennial crops including forage and biomass crops, perennial conservation cover, and rotations of annuals that maintain continuous living cover in agricultural landscapes.

The Collaborative Genius Fund is an expendable fund that will immediately begin supporting long-term data curation for transdisciplinary research teams working to clarify the benefits of nature on agriculture at Iowa State.

Both funds were established using resources from Schulte Moore’s 2021 MacArthur Fellowship – a prestigious award that identifies scientists, artists, entrepreneurs and others who have demonstrated exceptional creativity and show promise for important future advances.

Schulte Moore is the first faculty member from Iowa State to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. She has conducted groundbreaking research as a landscape ecologist working closely with other research disciplines, farmers and public and private stakeholders to build more sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.

Although the fellowship is an individual recognition, Schulte Moore credits the collaborative atmosphere at Iowa State as an essential element of her success – and the inspiration behind the Perennial Partnerships Fund and the Collaborative Genius Fund.

“The majority of my work is collaborative in character,” she said. “I want to honor these collaborations by sharing the wealth. Additionally, Iowa State has been hugely supportive of my career and my team’s work, and I want to acknowledge that by reinvesting.”

Another impetus for Schulte Moore’s two funds was her desire to pay it forward and inspire, enable and foster others who are similarly interested in pursuing cross-boundary work.

“No one person or discipline or sector can solve a grand societal challenge on their own, nor are we going to solve these challenges with siloed thinking,” she said. “It takes creative teamwork. I want to catalyze a whole lot more of it.”

In establishing these funds, Schulte Moore hopes to inspire additional philanthropic support for collaborative research projects, and to leverage the grant she received from the MacArthur Foundation. Both funds are open to further donations from any individual or organization.

“Dr. Schulte Moore’s work is truly extraordinary, as the MacArthur Fellowship attests. So, too, is her decision to create these two funds to further the work of her colleagues at Iowa State and within our college. This generosity, and her personal science and leadership styles, clearly indicate great things ahead through her work in natural resources, agriculture and sustainability,” said Daniel J. Robison, holder of the Dean’s Endowed Chair in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Schulte Moore made her charitable gift through the ISU Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization committed to securing and managing gifts that benefit the university.