UC Awards Research Grants for Multicampus Projects

Man stands in front of whiteboard filled with calculations.
Manuel Calderon de la Barca Sanchez is one of two UC Davis physics professors who are part of a project to design detectors for the Electron-Ion Collider, a new particle accelerator proposed for the Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Quick Summary

  • Total of $9 million given to 16 projects
  • UC Davis faculty lead projects on digital pathology infrastructure, and child health, poverty and public policy
  • Other campus researchers involved in 7 other projects

The UC Office of the President has awarded more than $9 million in grants to 16 collaborative research projects across the system. UC Davis researchers lead two of the projects and will participate in seven others. 

Awarded every two years, the grants from UC’s Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives, or MRPI, seek to leverage the UC system’s research capabilities to develop real world solutions to significant problems facing our state and world. This year’s competition garnered 179 proposals that spanned the humanities, arts, engineering, public policy, and biological, health, environmental, natural and social sciences.

The recipients were selected based on their compelling approaches to advancing research areas that are important to UC and the state, increasing the university’s ability to attract the brightest faculty and student talent, and supporting innovative graduate and undergraduate student research.

“By drawing upon the expertise of collaborating scholars across the UC system, these projects demonstrate UC’s collective excellence and unparalleled strength as the world’s premier public research institution,” said Arthur Ellis, UC’s vice president for Research and Graduate Studies. “From agriculture to immigration, and from health to homelessness, these issues touch our lives, as can the practical knowledge and solutions developed by these UC MRPI projects.”

The grants led by UC Davis faculty are:

An Enhanced UC Digital Pathology Infrastructure — Led by Brittany Dugger, assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, School of Medicine, this project will draw on “brain banks” at UC Davis, UC Irvine and UCLA to create a new resource for research, education and patient care in Alzheimer’s Disease and related brain disorders. It will organize digital images from microscope slides, making them available for research and clinical use, and also develop machine learning and artificial intelligence tools for digital pathology. ($265,000)

UC Network on Child Health, Poverty and Public Policy — Marianne Page, professor of economics at UC Davis, will lead a team of experts from UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and UCSF to shift from fragmented, discipline-specific approaches of studying childhood disparities to a multidisciplinary, comprehensive examination of the issue. The project goal is to understand how health and nutrition programs affect the health and development of disadvantaged children, as well as build relationships with policymakers. ($150,000)

Other grants involving UC Davis researchers:

Human Conditions: UC Humanities Initiative — This grant renews the UC Humanities Initiative, which supports innovative individual scholarship, collaborative research and public engagement activities in the humanities across all ten campuses. The initiative will address how rapid changes in technology, the environment, politics, demographics and socioeconomics are impacting people. The initiative is led by Tyrus Miller, dean of the School of Humanities at UC Irvine, and includes Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science, and the other UC deans of humanities. ($1.9 million)

California Policy Lab: Studying Inequality and Homelessness — Led by Jesse Rothstein at UC Berkeley, this project will combine faculty research expertise with data from state and local agencies to address two of California’s pressing problems: homelessness and workforce education. It will develop a UC-wide infrastructure to support research on these and other pressing problems. Michal Kurlaender, professor in the UC Davis School of Education, is a co-investigator with colleagues from UC Irvine, UCLA and UCSF. ($1.25 million)

UC Initiative to Save California’s Citrus — UC Davis’ Gitta Coaker, associate professor of plant pathology, will collaborate on this $1.1 million initiative, led by UC Riverside, to explore ways to save the citrus industry in California and worldwide from “citrus greening,” a deadly disease affecting citrus trees. Spreading westward from Florida, citrus greening has so far cost more than $1 billion annually in lost crops and nearly 8,000 jobs. The project also includes collaborators at UC Berkeley and UC San Diego. ($1.1 million)

The California Magnetic Resonance eXploration Initiative — The goal of this project is to develop a unique facility using magnetic resonance spectroscopy to study all the atoms in the Periodic Table. Current technology can only be used for about half the known elements. The new facility would enable unprecedented studies of atoms in living things, in natural materials and in technology with potential for breakthrough discoveries in biology, physics, chemistry and materials science. The main activity of the project will be to hold meetings of researchers and conduct experiments at UC Santa Barbara. Professor David Britt, UC Davis Department of Chemistry, is a co-principal investigator with colleagues from UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara, which leads the project. ($270,000)

Maximizing the Environmental Utility of Battery Storage — Alissa Kendall, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis, is co-principal investigator of this project led by Brian Tarroja of UC Irvine and including faculty at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. The researchers will develop tools to look at the environmental impact of different battery technologies throughout their lifecycle. Battery energy storage is important for making full use of renewable energy sources, but batteries themselves may have health and environmental impacts in their production, use or disposal. ($270,000)

PlaceMakers: UC Place-Based Art + Design— Placemaking makes use of the inherent creativity of people and institutions to revitalize communities through art and design. This collaboration will identify place-based research that is reinventing spaces of higher education, foster collaborations and expand such initiatives across the UC system. The project is led by Kim Yasuda at UC Santa Barbara, with UC Davis’ Glenda Drew and Brett Snyder, professor and associate professor of design, respectively; and colleagues at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz. ($270,000)

The Science of Dense Gluon Matter — This collaboration, led by UC Berkeley, will design detectors for the Electron-Ion Collider, a new particle accelerator proposed for the Brookhaven National Laboratory. The EIC is the only major particle accelerator currently planned in the United States. The group aims to use the EIC to study particles called gluons, which hold together other subatomic particles within atomic nuclei. UC Davis investigators are professors Manuel Calderon de la Barca Sanchez and Daniel Cebra of the Department of Physics. The project also includes researchers at UCLA and UC Riverside and will collaborate with the Berkeley, Los Alamos and Livermore national laboratories. ($265,000)

Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives: More information on the 2019 awards.

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