Dozens of students at the University of California, Merced, will be able to research new ways of increasing energy efficiency and protecting our environmental resources thanks to a $250,000 gift to the campus from Southern California Edison (SCE).
Between two installments of $125,000, one in 2010 and one in 2011, the gift will benefit a total of 46 undergraduate and four graduate students in UC Merced's Sierra Nevada Research Institute  (SNRI) and Solar Power Forecasting Initiative . In addition, two UC Merced students will receive internships with SCE.
"Our campus is establishing itself as a leader in renewable energy and sustainability research," Chancellor Steve Kang said. "This generous gift from Southern California Edison will help us continue to train the next generation of global leaders in these very important fields."
Les Starck, SCE's vice president of local public affairs, said the gift is an investment in future technologies that will ultimately improve energy efficiency and water resource management on a global scale.
To be eligible for the graduate fellowships, students must have an interest in the fields of hydrology modeling or energy research. For undergraduate scholarships, students must have a financial need and be majoring in environmental engineering, earth systems sciences, biology or mechanical engineering. The gift is already making a difference in students' lives.
Peter Kirchner is one graduate student who has benefited from the SCE gift. He's currently working with mountain hydrologist and SNRI Director Roger Bales , studying the impacts of climate change on the hydrology of mountain ecosystems and developing new ways to quantify and predict California's water resources.
"Scholarships have helped motivate and sustain my commitment to education, as they allow me to work fewer hours outside of the classroom," Graham said. "This means I have been able to focus more on studying and spending time in the lab, both of which are important to my professional development and future success."