After submitting over 1,800 proposals for funding last year, departments on campus raised $159 million for research and development funding ( over double the money raised in the past ten years.
The influx of money from the 2005-06 school year benefits ongoing research on campus; particularly in the science and engineering departments as federal research support is more readily available in those fields. Faculty in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, for example, received $22.7 million last year, said Carla Whitacre, director of research development.
The $159 million in grants came from a number of sources, including the federal and state government, corporations and foundations. Of that, $112 million came from federal agencies like the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health, which collectively provided 70 percent of federal funding.
“Projects get funded by presenting unique ideas,” Whitacre said. “It could be knowledge and greater understanding that benefits mankind, and it can have a local, national and very often global impact.”
According to a press release, UCSB ranked 18th in NSF support for the 2005 fiscal year.
“UCSB research informs our teaching,” Whitacre said. “Faculty integrate the results of their original projects into their classrooms and into other educational settings.”
Chemistry Dept. chair Alec Wodtke said part of the department’s $8.6 million in grants will go toward studying heterogeneous catalysis. The chemistry term describes a reaction in which the catalyst – an accelerator of a chemical process – is in a different phase than the reactant. For example, the catalyst could be in a liquid state while the reactants are in a solid state.
Wodtke said the department is also working on building new instruments to develop nanocatalysis, which could potentially create more energy-efficient technology.
“The nanocatalysis is a new catalyst that allows you to convert ethylene to ethylene oxide which can produce plastics at low temperatures,” Wodtke said. “At low temperatures you can save an enormous amount of energy.”
Wodtke said $2.5 million of the funding was allocated to establish a five year-graduate exchange program between the U.S. and China, which began last December. He said the program allows UCSB graduate students to study at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China, while Chinese students are welcomed at UCSB.
“We saw a lot of new funding in a lot of different areas, one of which was the U.S. and China exchange program,” Wodtke, who is the director of the project, said. “The major idea is that the students go through their educational process and learn to become scientists, as well as learn something about Chinese language and culture.
“They are able to establish networks and [form] international connections that will be helpful in the future. I think it’s been very successful, so far a number of UCSB students are spending time in China.”
Although the science and engineering departments received more money than the arts and humanities, Michael Witherell, UCSB vice chancellor of research, said in a press release that research funding does not reflect the overall strength of the school and the potential for all departments.
“UCSB research also has great impact in fields for which the national funding is much less, including the arts, humanities, social sciences, and education,” he said. “The vitality of UCSB research in these areas is not reflected in tables of research funding.”