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. 


The Buffett Early Childhood Institute is dedicated to promoting the development and learning of children from birth to age 8, focused especially on those who are vulnerable because of poverty, abuse, or developmental, learning, or behavioral challenges. Two signature programs illuminate the goals of the Institute: the Achievement Gap Challenge works to help narrow the gap between economically advantaged and disadvantaged children in Nebraska. The Workforce Development Program focuses on increasing the quality and quantity of early childhood educators.

“The Buffett Institute offers a rare opportunity to move the field of early childhood forward to change the lives of children and families in Nebraska and beyond. My goal is for Nebraska to become the best place in the nation to be a baby." —Dr. Samuel J. Meisels, Founding Executive Director, Buffett Early Childhood Institute”

In 2013, Dr. Samuel J. Meisels became the founding executive director BECI. Dr. Meisels is one of the nation’s leading authorities on the assessment of young children and early childhood development. He was formerly president of Erikson Institute in Chicago, the country’s premiere graduate school in child development. Dr. Meisels has named a national advisory board of prominent leaders in the field, both from higher education and the private sector.


The National Strategic Research Institute helps the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal agencies meet their national security objectives. More than 350 scientists and strategists from the University of Nebraska and NSRI are delivering innovative research, developing national defense's future workforce, and supporting those who defend America and its allies.

One of only 14 University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs) in the country, NSRI was established in 2012 in partnership with U.S. Strategic Command and the DoD 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. It concentrates on five core research competencies: active and passive defense against weapons of mass destruction, nuclear detection and forensics, consequence management, detection of chemical and biological weapons and mission-related research.

“NSRI and the University of Nebraska are well-positioned to anticipate and deliver the needs of the Department of Defense. We are an efficient, committed partner with the research and technical expertise to address national security needs. We could not be more honored to do this critical work.” —Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Robert Hinson, NSRI executive director

Leading this prestigious research institute is Robert Hinson, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant general and former vice president with Northrop Grumman Corp. Under Hinson’s leadership, NSRI has facilitated and delivered on more than 110 contracts with the Department of Defense and other federal agency sponsors, worth more than $160 million.


The Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute was founded in 2010 to address one of the greatest challenges facing the global community: feeding a population expected to increase 40 percent by 2050. Future generations must produce the global food supply using less water and land resources than what is used today—a tall task when roughly 70 percent of all today’s freshwater withdrawals are for agriculture. The DWFI is a research, education and policy analysis institute committed to helping the world efficiently use its limited freshwater resources to ensure food security for current and future generations. 

"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 

Partnerships range from a joint master’s degree program with UNESCO-IHE in the Netherlands, the world’s largest graduate program in water management, to collaborative research with USAID’s Middle East and North Africa Network of Water Centers of Excellence, and research with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on drought monitoring and improved sustainability of crop production.