Faculty Research

The IC² Institute engages with and supports UT Austin faculty research projects related to the institute’s focus on catalyzing communities beyond urban corridors.  IC² seeks to stimulate a broad-based research program that can reveal new avenues for business, government, and the education sector to collaborate to enhance economic opportunities in communities.

In 2019, after review of many proposals by the Institute’s Faculty Advisory Board, 10 UT Austin faculty research projects were awarded from across campus including schools of Business, Policy & Public Affairs, Journalism, Communications, Architecture, and Engineering. Awards are for $100,000 for a two-year research project. In addition, the Institute is funding three additional faculty on related research. Funds are provided from the Institute’s research endowment and matching funds from generous donors. 

Funded research includes economic resilience, transitioning industry areas, urban migration, rural innovation incubators, and the leveraging of data science and machine learning.  Factors impacting rural entrepreneurial success, such as broadband access, social learning, digital media, and co-working options, are also addressed by some of the studies.

Read more about the projects in this news release: https://news.utexas.edu/2019/06/12/rural-entrepreneurship-in-texas-gets-boost-from-ut-austin-research-projects/

2019 Funded Research

1- Big data strategies to map social networks in co-working spaces

John S. ButlerProfessor of Management and Sociology, McCombs School of Business

2- Digital media and venture creation in selected rural communities in Texas

Wenhong Chen, Associate Professor, School of Journalism, Moody College of Communication

Joe Straubhaar, Professor of Communication, School of Journalism


3- Social learning in small farm settings using western Kenya as a model

Raissa Fabregas, Assistant Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs


4-  Developing an online system to evaluate the rural entrepreneurship environment in Texas

Jason Abrevaya, Professor and Chair of Economics Department, College of Liberal Arts

Jungfeng Jiao, Associate Professor in the Community and Regional Planning program, School of Architecture

5- Rural Innovation Incubator model relative to energy workers in transition

Sheldon LandsbergerProfessor in Nuclear and Radiation, Chair in Mechanical Engineering, Cockrell School of Engineering

6- Return to rural regions after urban migration in China

Ji Ma, Assistant Professor in Philanthropic and Nonprofit Studies, LBJ School of Public Affairs 

7- Innovation and entrepreneurism ecosystem blueprint for selected rural regions

Steven Pedigo, Professor of Practice, Director of the LBJ Urban Lab, LBJ School of Public Affairs 

8- Economic booms, entrepreneurial activity, and economic resilience of rural Texas

Varun Rai, Associate Dean for Research; Professor of Public Affairs, LBJ School of Public Affairs 

9- Broadband access and entrepreneurial outcomes in rural regions

Sharon Strover, Professor at School of Journalism and Media, Department of Radio-Television-Film

10- Co-working spaces and innovative enterprises in rural and urban centers

Craig Watkins, Professor at School of Journalism and Media, Department of Radio-Television-Film

Additional Funded Faculty

Marcelo J. P. Paixão, Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies, College of Liberal Arts

Clay Spinuzzi, Professor and Associate Chair in Rhetoric and Writing, College of Liberal Arts

Michael Pyrcz, Associate Professor in Petroleum Engineering, Cockrell School of Engineering 


The next IC2 Call for Proposal is tentatively scheduled for spring 2021.