The UC Office of Research is bringing together local, regional, and national thought leaders to solve problems that matter
The Digital Futures Flashpoint series is a collection of conversations of consequence amongst a panel of national, regional, and local thought leaders on topics that are timely and of interest to the public. As part of Digital Futures and Research2030, UC subject-matter experts are positioned alongside influencers, policy makers, members of the media and, importantly, movers & shakers from industry, government, and the community to collectively grapple with the big challenges the people of our city, state, and nation care most about. "The Digital Futures Flashpoint Series is one way we're building a coalition of change agents that seeks to collaboratively embark on projects and co-create collective value,” said Patrick Limbach, Vice President for Research.
The series began in 2020 and features three panel conversations each academic year. Two are online, and the third, the Presidential Panel, is a hybrid meeting that happens during R&I Week at the Queen City Club in downtown Cincinnati. The Presidential Panel features UC’s President Pinto and leaders from industry, government, and/or the community to discuss topics of deep interest to the future of the University of Cincinnati as well as our partners in government, industry, and the community.
"The Flashpoint Series convenes like-minded experts,” said Associate Vice President for Research Jennifer Krivickas, “and this enhances UC's research reputation, helps attract top talent to UC, and helps general audiences understand how research at UC is truly impacting the lives of people in our community and beyond.” Since 2020, the Office of Research has had tremendous success securing thought leaders of national, statewide, and local renown, as can be seen from the list of panel discussions below.
Previous Digital Futures Flashpoint Conversations
How effective is online learning for young learners, particularly those learning to read? Researchers, policymakers, and industry leaders explore how parents and teachers can keep young learners, especially those learning to read, engaged and stimulated in online learning environments. They also discuss the future of EdTech and how it can help to improve literacy in the U.S. education system.
Reneé Seward – Associate Professor of Communication Design at the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning; Co-Lab Leader at the Digital Futures Learning by Design Lab; creator of See Word Design
Mike Tholfsen – Principal Group Manager at Microsoft Education
The power of place is the foundation of community, bringing together people from diverse backgrounds to create social ties and a common sense of purpose. In this panel discussion, local, state, and national experts discuss the Cincinnati community, placemaking, and the ways UC’s new Digital Futures building could become a place where technology and community intersect for the betterment of society.
Jennifer Vey – Senior Fellow and Director of the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking at the Brookings Institution
Andrew Deye – Managing Director at JobsOhio
Jess Kropczynski, PhD – Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati School of Information Technology
Following the 2020 presidential election, this panel discussion explores highly charged political themes with nationally recognized thought leaders on democracy, trust in institutions, and the role of information in the digital age. Panelists also discuss how elections have evolved and how we can increase trust and efficacy in our republic moving forward.
Katie Harbath – Director of Public Policy and Global Elections at Facebook
Anna Palmer – Founder of Punchbowl News and former Politico reporter
Trey Grayson – Director of Civic Point and former Secretary of State for Kentucky
Richard Harknett – Professor and Chair of the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Political Science and national cyber strategy expert
The final Digital Futures Flashpoint panel of the 2020-21 academic year focuses on advanced air mobility platforms, such as drones, air taxis, and electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOLs). Panelists discuss the role they will play in the 21st century and how Ohio is uniquely positioned to spearhead academic collaboration with industry, leading to jobs, positive economic impact, and advances in technology.
Elaine Bryant – Managing Director at JobsOhio
Daniel Cuppoletti – Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati
Rich Granger – Managing Director at DriveOhio
The Ohio River is a source of drinking water, jobs, and recreation for millions of Americans. Its importance to the region cannot be overstated, but the conversation about this natural resource is often lacking. Panelists discuss the Ohio River’s challenges, including environmental aspects, needs of people in the region, and how the river contributes to jobs and the economy, as well as how UC, the government, and the private sector are working to overcome these challenges.
Patrick Ray – Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Cincinnati
Jason Stephens – State Representative for Ohio’s 93rd District, which includes counties along the Ohio River
Melinda Kruyer – Executive Director for Confluence Water Technology Innovation Cluster
Brett Walton – Reporter for Circle of Blue
Kyle McCune – Hydraulic Engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers
In 2021, the market cap of cryptocurrencies exceeded $3 trillion, six new crypto billionaires joined the Forbes 400, and the CEO of Twitter sold a non-fungible token (NFT) for charity. The Giving Block, an organization that helps nonprofits with cryptocurrency fundraising, reported a 583% increase in cryptocurrency donations in 2021. Panelists discuss their experiences with accepting and using cryptocurrencies to advance their nonprofit mission.
The Presidential Panel that ended the 2021-2022 Digital Futures Flashpoint series was held in person at the Queen City Club during Research + Innovation Week. In this panel, three leaders sit down to discuss how preparation, access to data, and an individual-focused approach helped them confront the crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic, and unemployment among a vulnerable population.
Neville Pinto – President of the University of Cincinnati
Steven Schierholt – Executive Director of the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy
Daniel Meyer – Founder and CEO of Nehemiah Manufacturing
Nationwide, people are waking up to the reality that many of our athletes are victims of repeated brain trauma, many times resulting in CTE and other long-term mental health issues. Former football players hope research, like that being done at the University of Cincinnati, will help them and future generations avoid the worst consequences of brain injuries. Panelists discuss the current state of play and what measures governing bodies and policy makers can take to help protect athletes.
Tom Talavage – Professor and Head of the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Biomedical Engineering
Bob DeMars – former University of Southern California Defensive End (1997-2001); Filmmaker (The Business of Amateurs)
Reggie Williams – former Cincinnati Bengals Linebacker (1976-89); Author (Resilient by Nature)
The COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid epidemic have highlighted the disparities in health outcomes that residents of poorer communities, both rural and urban, face. Panelists discuss the all-too-real challenges that millions of Ohioans face every day, as well as the solutions that address those challenges.