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UCSB the Beneficiary of $36 Million in Economic Recovery Funds

More than 40 research projects at the university have received grant awards

UCSB is on its way to another year of multimillion-dollar grant funding with the receipt of $36 million in economic stimulus money.

More than 40 research projects have received various amounts of funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with a new Center on Energy Efficient Materials leading the pack with $19 million.

The university typically pulls in about $180 million per year in outside funding, according to Michael Witherell, vice chancellor for research.

“The year we’re in now, I think we’ll beat that,” he said Monday during a news conference announcing the grant awards.

About half of research money goes to salaries of support staff, which includes graduate and post-doctorate students and other researchers, he said. Faculty members working on projects are paid by state funds, and the rest of the grant money goes toward equipment or other expenses.

CEEM works with energy-efficient materials, and current projects include solar panels, thermoelectric technology, efficient lighting and energy storage, said Art Gossard, vice chancellor of academic personnel.

Many of the university’s past Nobel Prizes and Millenium Prize have been related to materials research, he said. All of the grant money was given upfront, so equipment can be purchased early.

Other projects that received money ranged from computer science to psychology, but all were highly science and research-based.

“Stimulus money tends to be for things that are more hard-wired into science and technology,” communications director George Yatchisin said.

Investing in UCSB’s researchers leads to patents and the creation of local companies, chancellor Henry Yang said Monday. There are many more proposals in the pipeline, he said.

He thanked Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, who is an alumna of UCSB, for her support of the university and higher education.

The funds will provide a ripple effect that will support research for decades, Capps said during Monday’s news conference. By providing scientists and researchers with the tools they need, the money can create jobs right away and help build something long term, she said.

UCSB’s CalTeach program received $900,000 in funds, and expects to produce 145 highly qualified science and math teachers during the next five years, said Pierre Wiltzius, Worster Dean of Science. The program gives scholarships to students seeking credentials in science and math, and requires graduates to work for at least two years in schools with high needs, he said.

The announcement of the federal grants comes less than a week after the systemwide Day of Action by University of California campuses, which protested fee hikes and cutbacks to faculty and staff.

“Our budget situation is very, very difficult,” Yang said.

However, the millions of dollars in research money can never be used to supplement faculty salaries or anything else.

Witherell said the spending of competitive grants is meticulously tracked by the government. Public universities have five budgets, and there are firewalls between each one to prevent money for one purpose being spent for another.

“The role of the grant process isn’t to replace what the state’s responsibility is,” Capps said, adding that the government needs to make educational institutions a priority.

Click here to view a complete list of UCSB projects that have received ARRA funding.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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