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What Does Research Money Do? UC Merced Professors, Staff Have Answers

October 13, 2005

What Does Research Money Do? UC Merced Professors, Staff Have Answers

In its short lifetime so far, UC Merced has brought in more than $15 million in grants and contracts for research and other programs. What does the university do with that money? UC Merced’s faculty and staff have both plans and results, all aiming to help inform policy decisions and create useful solutions for communities from the local to the international scale.

For example, Professor Shawn Kantor, an economist in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, will be studying the impact of higher-education spending on regional economies, using statistical tools to examine the effects of colleges universities across the United States.

In the schools of Natural Science and Engineering, faculty members have cooperated to build an Imaging and Microscopy Facility. The lab houses a transmission electron microscope and a scanning electron microscope used for research in nanotechnology, materials science, earth sciences, chemistry and biology. Professors Valerie Leppert, Peggy O’Day, Christopher Viney, David Ojcius and David Kelley are participating.

Professor Tom Harmon of the School of Engineering will be working on inexpensive, low-powered sensors to gather data about the chemical stability of agricultural soil. The project aims to help monitor increasing soil salinity that threatens agriculture in dry climates worldwide.

Natural Sciences Professor Arnold Kim will be using his background in mathematical analysis to study light propagation in tissues for potential future use in laser-based medical imaging.

Grants also fund programs that help area students prepare for higher education, such as the Parent Empowerment Program and the GEAR UP! Program, both run by UC Merced’s Center for Educational Partnerships. Another community program, the Small Business Development Center, helps area entrepreneurs create business plans and obtain loans to start new enterprises, creating jobs for others in the process.

Faculty and staff encourage students to get involved in research at every level, from class projects to lab assistant jobs to doctoral dissertations, offering hands-on learning that prepares students for their future endeavors.

Between cutting-edge research and community programs, UC Merced’s contract and grant money is poised to make a significant difference in the world.