UC Merced Research Awards Top $12 Million This Year

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 medical school.

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 surrounding area.




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.

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