Record Year for Funded Research Projects in Letters and Science

Hart Hall

The College of Letters and Science saw another strong year for research awards in fiscal year 2019-20, contributing to the new UC Davis record for research funding during this period.

The campus received $941 million in research funding, according to the UC Davis Office of Research. In the College of Letters and Science, more than $62 million was awarded to 460 projects, its highest ever number of funded projects, said Mani Tripathi, associate dean of research and graduate studies.

In Letters and Science, the humanities, arts and cultural studies saw an 82% increase in awards, and the social sciences showed a 6% gain. The mathematical and physical sciences’ figures decreased 18%, in part due to the pandemic slowing down agencies’ ability to process grant renewals, Tripathi said. Although the College’s total research dollars reflect a 7% decline from the previous fiscal year, the delayed awards will reflect in next year’s data, promising a very bright future, he added.

Notable awards in 2019-20 include:

Research Centers

The California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC), led by Professor Michael Siminovitch, received a $5.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand electrical training programs in California and Nevada.

The UC Davis TETRAPODS Institute of Data Science (UCD4IDS), led by Professor Naoki Saito of Mathematics, will advance the fundamentals of data science and prepare students to solve data analysis and machine learning problems in diverse fields.

The Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies at UC Davis, with Professor Robyn Rodriguez at the helm, received $1 million in state funding to expand research on one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing Asian American communities.

Repeated exposure to catchy tunes can also trigger old memories, even in people whose memory skills are impaired by Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive disorders. Professor Petr Janata of Psychology and the Center for Mind and Brain, in collaboration with other faculty colleagues, received a $274,750 grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to explore these links between music and memory.

Professor Eric Prebys, director of the Crocker Nuclear Laboratory, received a $340,000 grant from the Department of Energy to manufacture a rare isotope, astatine-211, as a replacement for iodine in medical use. The award is part of a federal program to produce critical isotopes for U.S. science, medicine and industry needs.

Selected Awards

Professor Lee Miller received $1.5 million from the United States Department of Defense to expand his lab’s research on hearing loss, an issue of relevance to both aging populations and military personnel. Miller is a member of the Center for Mind and Brain in the College of Letters and Science and a professor of neurobiology, physiology, and behavior in the College of Biological Sciences.

Eric Prebys, director of the UC Davis Crocker Nuclear Laboratory, is leading a $3.75 million project to develop a new tool based on synthetic diamond semiconductors that will be used to evaluate the performance of particle accelerators and X-Ray Free-Electron Lasers, known as XFELs. The team includes researchers from UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.  

Professor Susan Rivera, professor of psychology and member of the Center for Mind and brain, was awarded $622,000 from the National Institutes of Health for research on genetic markers of fragile X syndrome.

Becky Oskin, content strategist in the College of Letters and Science