Select UCSB programs will feel a slight reprieve from the budget crunch thanks to $36 million in grants awarded to researchers through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Chancellor Henry T. Yang and Congresswoman Lois Capps met with a handful of staff and faculty at an awards ceremony yesterday to celebrate the university’s federal funding. The grants – a product of the stimulus package passed by Congress in February – were distributed to UCSB researchers from a variety of sources including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Dept. of Energy. Over 40 projects have received funding thus far and 79 proposals are currently under review by funding agencies.

Capps, who strongly advocates for government investment in higher education, said she was proud of the university’s accomplishments.

“This achievement is to pay tribute and to honor all of the cutting edge research done on campus,” Capps said. “I so firmly believe that we must provide scientists and researchers with the resources they need for innovation.”

The Center on Energy Efficient Materials is one of the programs receiving considerable funding. CEEM will be allotted $19 million over the next five years to conduct research on materials that control the interactions between light, electricity and heat on the nanoscale. Additionally, the center will be tasked with improving efficiencies in photovoltaic solar energy conversion, solid-state lighting and thermoelectric conversion of heat into electricity and energy storage.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel Arthur Gossard said materials research on campus has long proved influential. With the grant, Gossard said, researchers will continue to make important developments in the field.

“This center is aimed at energy efficiency through materials,” Gossard said. “Three of our five recent Nobel Prizes have come from professors working with materials.”

Almost $900,000 of the grant money has been allocated to the UCSB Cal Teach program, which is aimed at supporting the education of students aspiring to become mathematics and science teachers at the secondary level. This additional funding is projected to increase the production of teachers in this field by 70 percent.

UCSB is one of only 31 universities to have received funding from the ARRA, which Chancellor Yang noted was an extraordinary accomplishment. Additionally, Yang said he was grateful for the support Congresswoman Capps and the federal government’s showed in recognition of the campus’ achievements.

“We appreciate [Capps’] vision and leadership in recognizing the importance of investing in higher education, especially during these difficult economic times,” Yang said.

Furthermore, Yang said he wished to use the grant money to produce additional patents and make a positive impact on the Santa Barbara economy to boot.

“Patents often lead to spinoff companies, which end up being located in the Santa Barbara area – creating jobs, and generating revenue and taxes,” Yang said. “More than 90 local companies have been established by our faculty and alumni, with nine new companies formed in 2008 based on knowledge derived from UC Santa Barbara.”