UC Merced will be awarded about $5 million from the greater University of California system to continue research conducted on water and solar sustainability, the university announced Monday.
Professors Roger Bales and Roland Winston were each awarded UC Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives grants. The dollar amounts they will receive won’t be finalized until after the new year, but they expect $5 million total, according to a press release.
The professors’ projects were two of the 18 to be promised funding throughout the UC system.
“These awards recognize the leadership our faculty members bring to these important topics,” said Sam Traina, vice chancellor for research and economic development.
Bales, director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, proposed a plan to bring together experts from across the UC system to build a strategic base of water knowledge to help California and the nation achieve water security.
Unprecedented climate change, population growth and other factors are radically altering the water cycle, Bales said in his proposal, with dramatic impacts on the human and environmental uses of water.
“As California grapples with a multiyear drought, the need for water security is clear,” he said in a press release. “Now is an ideal time for UC to establish this research initiative alongside California’s water leaders.”
The initiative blends UC’s technical advances in hydrology with policy analysis and other factors to meet the state’s water challenges. The initiative has three primary concentrations: produce real-time water data; develop a better understanding of how plants, trees and other cover affect water storage; and design better tools and techniques for groundwater management.
Winston is director of the nine-campus University of California Advanced Solar Technologies Institute. He applied for renewal of the grant, which helped fund the formation of the institute.
UC Solar brings together solar scientists from the UC system to work with populations worldwide and develop solutions that can be brought to the marketplace.
“Solar is our most abundant and reliable form of renewable energy, and, when used effectively, has the potential to meet most, if not all, of our energy needs,” Winston said in a news release.
With continued funding, Winston said he plans to continue what UC Solar has done locally and around the globe, while also aiding residential and other areas with solar energy integration. UC Solar will also examine the economics and policy of solar energy to help the state plan its renewable energy efforts.
The 2014 Multicampus awards drew 186 applications totaling more than $273 million in funding requests. The awards program funds less than 10 percent of the proposals, according to the UC Office of the President.
The 18 funded proposals total more than $23 million over four years.
The awards are meant for multicampus or systemwide collaborations that could advance research, affect the lives of Californians, increase UC’s competitiveness, inform public policy and support innovative graduate student research.