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UC Merced gets $8.2M in research grants

UC Merced said its faculty researchers have gotten $8.2 million in research grants and awards during the first half of the 2008-09 fiscal year.

The funds, received between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2008, represent 54 separate projects. Federal, state and private funding brought in to the university is typically used to hire student research assistants, buy supplies, equip laboratories, fund travel, pay salaries and conduct day-to-day research activities.

The $8.2 million is on par with the amount of funds received during the first six months of the 2007-08 fiscal year. Last year’s full-year total was $16.3 million, the university said.

“Research is an integral component of education and we are pleased that UC Merced continues to maintain consistent and strong research funding at this point of the fiscal year,” said Samuel Traina, vice chancellor for research and dean of graduate studies.

UC Merced said its faculty members conduct research on a wide range of scientific issues, many of which have direct relevance to the San Joaquin Valley and the state. Because many goods and services are bought locally, the Valley community benefits directly from the inflow of cash as well as from the ideas and discoveries resulting from the actual research, according to university officials.

Among the awards in the most recent six-month period:

- $1.7 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to conduct research on using stem cells for cardiac tissue repair;

- $656,000 from the National Science Foundation to acquire a laser and detection system that allows researchers to perform a wide variety of optical and opto-electronic experiments;

- $150,000 from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to create usable technology for quantum computing;

- $100,000 from the National Science Foundation to build computer models that can automatically extract useful information from extremely complex data;

- $755,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy to examine how climate changes affect plant species;

- $476,000 from the National Science Foundation to buy robotics equipment;

- $407,000 from the National Institutes of Health to study the biochemistry of HIV

- $529,000 from the National Science Foundation to study how cholesterol interacts in cell membranes; and

- $369,000 and $145,000 from a collaborative grant with UC Berkeley that examines the affects of forest service land management on water cycles in the Sierra Nevada.

“These dollars allow our researchers to perform cutting-edge research, but they also impact the economic base of the local community,” said Keith Alley, executive vice chancellor and provost.

Information about interdisciplinary research institutes and cooperative core laboratories at UC Merced can be found at