Grants for Proof-of-Concept and Public Engagement Projects

Dairy calves in barn
The Office of Research recently awarded a DIAL grant to Professor Sharif Aly in support of his work to develop and commercialize a risk-assessment tool for bovine respiratory disease in dairy calves. (Getty Images)

Quick Summary

  • STAIR: Science Translation and Innovative Research
  • DIAL: Data Informatics and Application Launch
  • New this year: Food Systems Innovation grant
  • PIRI: Public Impact Research Initiative

The Office of Research recently awarded a total of $435,000 in three proof-of concept grant programs for faculty, while the Office of Public Scholarship and Engagement gave a total of $67,500 in seed and bridge grants to faculty for publicly engaged research projects.

Office of Research

Science Translation and Innovative Research, or STAIR, grants (up to $50,000), listed with the grant recipients:

  • Improvement of Abrasion Resistance of Eco-Friendly Fluorogypsum-Based Concrete — Michele Barbato, professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering;
  • Synthesis of Organo-Aluminum Flow Battery Analytes With Enhanced Stability — Louise Berben, professor, Department of Chemistry, College of Letters and Science
  • Development of Novel Dual Androgen Receptor-AKR1C3 Inhibitors — Allen Gao, professor, Department of Urologic Surgery, School of Medicine
  • Engineered Placental Mesenchymal Stromal Cells and Extracellular Vesicles for the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury — Aijun Wang, professor, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine
  • A Novel Technology for Converting Food Waste into Biodegradable Plastics — Ruihong Zhang, professor, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, College of Engineering

Data Informatics and Application Launch, or DIAL, grants (up to $20,000 for innovations specifically geared toward data, information science or software), listed with the grant recipients:

  • Commercialization of the Bovine Respiratory Disease Risk Assessment for Prevention of Pneumonia in Dairy Calves — Sharif Aly, professor, Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine;
  • Diagnosis of Arterial Insufficiency in Patient With Peripheral Artery Disease and Diabetes — Misty Humphries, associate professor, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine

And, new this year, resulting from a collaboration between Venture Catalyst and the Innovation Institute for Food and Health, the Food Systems Innovation Award ($50,000), given to Daniela Barile, professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

In addition to receiving grants, recipients participate in a structured entrepreneurial training program, such as the Entrepreneurship Academy hosted by the UC Davis Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Awardees are also paired with experienced business mentors to provide guidance on commercial translation.

“University research often yields exciting potential solutions, but access to funding and resources to evaluate and advance them is often a limiting factor in further development,” said Prasant Mohapatra, vice chancellor for research. “These proof-of-concept grants and associated support provide a path forward for bold ideas with strong potential for success.”

Read more about the grants and the recipients’ projects.

Public Scholarship and Engagement

The office gave nine awards through its Public Impact Research Initiative, or PIRI, recognizing and supporting research that is cogenerated with community partners, is of mutual benefit and has a positive public impact. “Through this initiative, we provide financial support for new collaborations and sustained relationships that will support publicly engaged research with nonuniversity partners,” the office said in a story about the awards.

Seed grant-funded projects, listed with project leads (faculty members, a postdoctoral scholar and a Ph.D. student) and collaborators (nonuniversity partners with local, national and global reach):

  • Building the Tools of Land Sovereignty: Aiding Lisjan Ohlone Networks in Building Governmental and Financial Tools — Project leads: Professor Gregory Downs and Assistant Professor Justin Leroy, Department of History, College of Letters and Science. Collaborator: Sogorea Te’ Land Trust.
  • Evaluation of Wildlife Rewilding on Livestock Producers in a Patagonian Working LandscapeProject lead: Assistant Professor Justine Smith, Department of Wildlife and Conservation Biology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Collaborator: Fundación Flora y Fauna Argentina.
  • Identifying and Addressing Ecological Knowledge Gaps in Managing California’s Low-Elevation Ecosystems to Minimize the Negative Impacts of Wildfire and Enhance Post-Fire Recovery — Project leads: Professor Valerie Eviner, Associate Professor Jennifer Funk and Professor Mary Cadenasso, Department of Plant Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Collaborators: California Native Grasslands Association, Pepperwood Preserve and Tuleyome.
  • Niimiipuu/Mayan Connections: Language Revitalization in Chiapas, Mexico — Project lead: Professor Inés Hernández-Ávila, Department of Native American Studies, College of Letters and Science. Collaborators: luk’upsíimey/North Star Collective, and Beth Piatote, Department of Native American Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Reuniting Families: Understanding the Impact of Immigration Prison Decarceration Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic on Detained Immigrants and Their Families — Project lead: Caitlin Patler, Department of Sociology, College of Letters and Sciences. Collaborator: American Civil Liberties Union.
  • UC Davis-Wellspring Women’s Center Partnership to Build Understanding of COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence Among Diverse, Low-Income Women in Sacramento — Project leads: Associate Professor Ester Apesoa-Verano, Professor Sheryl Catz and postdoctoral scholar Susan Miller, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. Collaborator: Wellspring Women’s Center.

Bridge grant-funded projects, listed with project leads (faculty members and a Ph.D. student) and collaborators:

  • California BIPOC Youth Perspectives About COVID-19 Pandemic: A Community Engaged Participatory Research — Professor Natalia Deeb-Sossa, Department of Chicana/o Studies, College of Letters and Science. Collaborators: Empower Yolo; Rosa Manzo, associate director of medical education, UC Merced; and DSkye Kelty; postdoctoral fellow, Joint Graduate Group in Pharmacology and Toxicology, Rutgers University.
  • Deepening Co-Creation of Research for Yurok Food Sovereignty — Associate Professor Katherine Kim, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, and Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine. Collaborator: Nature Rights Council.
  • Understanding WIC Participant Responses to Vendor Policy Enforcement Professor Tim Beatty and Ph.D. student Charlotte Ambrozek, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Collaborator: Women, Infants and Children Program, California Department of Public Health.

Read more about the PIRI grants and the recipients’ projects.

Media Resources

Dateline Staff: Dave Jones, editor, 530-752-6556,; Cody Kitaura, News and Media Relations specialist, 530-752-1932,

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