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UCI reports blockbuster year for research funding, receives $529 million

Even without students on campus, UC Irvine has not halted academic research, and a record-breaking year for grants and other funding in fiscal 2019-20 is helping pay for it.

UCI netted $529 million in grants and contracts for research last year, which “surpasses our campus strategic plan goal of $500 million while accelerating UCI’s ascent among its Association of American Universities peers as a world-class research university,” UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman said in a press release.



Among the areas that have won funding are health sciences fields, which include research on cancer and Alzheimer’s disease; and new centers focused on materials research and protection of personal data, both supported by the National Science Foundation.

UCI is the lead institution among four universities that are collaborating on the data privacy center. A $10 million grant will help researchers look at how to protect personal information online, how to make effective policies regarding privacy and how to incorporate data protections when electronic devices are designed, said Athina Markopoulou, an electrical engineering and computer science professor who will head the research team.

“By now we are all more aware that our data matters and they can be used in so many ways” that aren’t always positive, she said.

The new research center will “provide tools, software that will help protect your data, that can be used by end users or by companies,” Markopoulou said. Its faculty will also advise policymakers on data privacy and train students, including those from communities that have been underrepresented in the field.

The National Science Foundation also granted $18 million to UCI to form a new materials research science and engineering center, one of three to receive funding in 2020 and among 19 such centers nationwide, UCI officials recently announced.

“It builds on UCI’s investment in faculty as well as in facilities and equipment in the field of material science,” said Pramod Khargonekar, the university’s vice chancellor for research.

The center will explore theory, computer modeling, experiments and testing of new materials intended to solve problems in manufacturing or performance in a variety of fields, such as a substance that can withstand the high temperatures experienced by a jet engine or other aerospace use.

Khargonekar said potential applications of the center’s research could include hard materials for gas turbines and electric batteries, or biological uses such as soft materials to improve wound healing or tissue growth.

Other recently funded research at UCI includes methods to remove carbon dioxide from the air, a study aimed at reducing prison violence, and a partnership with Morgan State University, a historically Black university in Baltimore, intended to help UCI attract graduate students from more diverse backgrounds.

In its press release, UCI said the 2019-20 research funding included 1,043 new awards to 570 researchers, and nearly 40% of the money was from non-federal sources.

Source: Orange County Register

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