MERCED - Research grants and awards for the University of
California, Merced’s 80 professors sharply increased this past
fiscal year, with more than $12 million coming from a variety of
sources for some of the state’s most cutting-edge research.
A total of 76 awards, amounting to $12,208,232, came in between
July 1, 2006, and June 30, 2007, about 60 percent more than the
$7,567,699 received in fiscal year 2005-06.
“Extramural funds are vital for the research of our faculty and
students,” said Samuel Traina, acting vice chancellor for research
and dean of graduate studies. “We are very proud of the faculty’s
growing success obtaining grants in an increasingly competitive environment.”
UC Merced’s research strengths include climate change issues;
biological diversity and management; immigration and language
acquisition; solar energy; cognitive science and artificial
intelligence; and biomedical topics including cancer research and
stem cell questions.
One particularly prestigious award was a CAREER award from the
National Science Foundation for Professor Mónica Medina’s
research in coral health genomics. Also funded by NSF were
Professor Roger Bales’ design and development of the Sierra Nevada
Hydrologic Observatory, research on reasoning and memory by
Professor Evan Heit and multiple other projects.
Among the additional sources contributing to the $12.2 million
total this year were the National Institutes of Health, the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the United States
Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of
Education, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and
the California Institute for Energy and the Environment.
The grants contribute to research that will bear out UC
Merced’s lasting legacy, not just in terms of research
advancements, but in the development of opportunities for the
community that has welcomed the UC’s 10th campus.
This fiscal year, faculty researchers spent $7,280,400
outfitting laboratories, traveling to research sites, and hiring
research assistants - mostly undergraduate and graduate students.
“UC Merced’s mission as a research institution is inseparable
from our mission as an educational institution,” said Executive
Vice Chancellor and Provost Keith Alley. “Faculty members bring
their research insights to the classroom and invite students into
laboratories and other research situations.
“We are a research university with nearly 2,000 students. This
provides the intimacy of a small college and the research prowess
of the University of California.”
Institutions like UC Merced have a proven track record of
spawning new businesses based on ideas generated by faculty and
student researchers. UC Merced’s planned entrepreneurship center
will support this kind of development, or technology transfer,
focusing on business ideas that are environmentally sustainable and
provide skilled, accessible opportunities for local job-seekers.
Some of the grant money awarded to UC Merced in 2006-07 also
directly benefits the region in the form of outreach programs
designed to increase the area’s college-going rates and prepare San
Joaquin Valley students for the challenges of university-level
work; small-business loans and continuing education for regional
entrepreneurs; and for the development of UC Merced’s planned
Salaries make up 30 percent of the expenses in UC Merced’s grant
and contract spending activity. Salary and other dollars stay in
the local economy to cycle through housing, retail and other
avenues that benefit the regional economy, because professors and
other members of research teams make their homes in Merced and
UC Merced opened September 5, 2005, as the 10th campus in the
University of California system and the first American research
university of the 21st century. The campus significantly expands
access to the UC system for students throughout the state, with a
special mission to increase college-going rates among students in
the San Joaquin Valley. It also serves as a major base of advanced
research and as a stimulus to economic growth and diversification
throughout the region. Situated near Yosemite National Park, the
university is expected to grow rapidly, topping out at
approximately 25,000 students within 30 years.