Ariel photo of the Pentacrest at the University of Iowa

About Us

The Public Policy Center (PPC) is an interdisciplinary research center in the Office of the Vice President for Research. We support a large intramural research program and a university-wide research development program, emphasizing, but not limited to, the social sciences. PPC researchers investigate some of the most important problems facing society at the local and national level. We share the resources and expertise of the University of Iowa with policymakers and the public through our engagement activities. Student involvement and training in research is emphasized, as is the development and support of interdisciplinary research across all Colleges.

Our Mission

To provide policymakers and the public with information to make our lives and communities thrive in sustainable ways through academic research.

Four objectives support this mission:


We conduct externally funded, academically rigorous, policy-relevant research..

Student Success

We provide opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students on campus through employment and policy-relevant courses and experiences.

Research Support

We support social science research on campus by providing resources directly to investigators.

Intramural Research

Rigorous, engaged research is at the heart of the Public Policy Center. Our policy programs include:


The PPC was founded in 1988 by David Forkenbrock, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, as a freestanding unit in the Office of the Vice President for Research. The PPC's original focus was Transportation Policy research, followed by Health Policy research, and Human Factors and Vehicle Safety research.

In 2007, Peter Damiano, Professor of Preventive and Community Dentistry, became the Center’s Director. The PPC expanded its research programs under Damiano, emphasizing the strengths of faculty on campus with policy-relevant research interests. The Center’s engagement mission was added in 2008, followed in 2010 by campus-wide research support through the Iowa Social Science Research Center. Research opportunities for students have increased significantly and support for undergraduate education began through the Big Ideas course on policy.