Private Sources Boost Research Funding in 2020-21
The University of California, Davis, set a new record for external research funding in fiscal year 2020–21, receiving $968 million in awards, up $27 million from the previous record set last year.
In the College of Letters and Science, more than $46 million was awarded to 413 projects. The College saw a large increase from the previous year in the amount and number of awards from private foundations. The number of federally funded projects also rose 16% from the previous year, and includes significant support for undergraduate learning, such as $7.4 million to the Department of Physics and Astronomy for faculty and student research, and $389,000 to launch a research undergraduate experience in the Department of Mathematics. Major funding also went to health research aimed at behavioral health and child development.
“I am impressed with the breadth and scope of our research in the College of Letters and Science. We are making a difference in people’s lives,” said Dean Estella Atekwana. “I also congratulate our faculty for their continued success amid the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Highlights of awards from foundations
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
- The Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter, co-led by Rajiv Singh, professor of physics, received a grant of almost $1 million to fund international science exchanges on quantum matter.
The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation
- Beth Rose Middleton Manning, professor of Native American studies, received $253,000 to advance ongoing Indigenous research connected to removing dams and restoring tribal homelands. The award is one of three, totaling nearly $1.5 million, that Middleton Manning received this past year to further Indigenous research.
The James S. McDonnell Foundation
- Two research teams — one led by Joy Geng and the other by Lisa Oakes — were each awarded $250,000 to study the development of learning in a wide range of ages. Both are professors in the Department of Psychology and at the Center for Mind and Brain.
The Russell Sage Foundation
- Caitlin Patler, assistant professor of sociology, was awarded $168,000 for her project "Reuniting Families: Understanding the Impact of Immigration Prison Decarceration Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic on Detained Immigrants and Their Families."
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- Melinda Adams, doctoral candidate in Native American studies, was awarded $124,000 for dissertation research on the social, ecological and cultural importance of prescribed fires conducted using traditional ecological knowledge.
The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation
- David Olson, associate professor of chemistry, was selected for the 2021 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, which includes a $100,000 unrestricted research grant.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
- Laura Starkson, assistant professor of mathematics, was named a 2021 Sloan Research Fellow, which includes $75,000 over two years to support research.
- Gerardo con Diaz, assistant professor of science and technology studies, was awarded $105,000 for work on his forthcoming book Digital Access: Copyright Law and the Birth of the Online World, under contract with Yale University Press.
The Simons Foundation
- Three faculty in mathematics — Janko Gravner, Monica Vazirani and Andrew Waldron — each received $42,000 to support ongoing research.
Other notable awards
- John Conway, professor of physics, received $7.4 million from the U.S. Department of Energy. The three-year grant will support more than 70 faculty and students (undergraduate and graduate) in the Department of Physics and Astronomy pursuing experimental and theoretical research in topics including the Higgs boson, neutrinos, dark matter and quantum physics.
- James Crutchfield, professor of physics, was awarded $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Defense's Army Research Office to advance our understanding of how to predict and program emergent behavior.
- Lisa Materson and Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor, both professors of history, received $460,000 from the National Park Service to craft 80 biographies of women involved in national parks in the western region of the United States, and connect those women’s lives to the ongoing struggle for voting rights.
- Michael Siminovitch, director of the California Lighting Technology Center, received $4.1 million from the California Energy Commission for his project “Renewable Energy and Advanced Lighting Systems for Exterior Applications.”
Awards from the National Institutes of Health
- Karen Bales, professor of psychology, received $674,000 from the National Institute of Mental Health for her project “The Kappa Opioid and Oxytocin Interactions in Social Buffering and Separation.”
- Eliza Bliss-Moreau, associate professor of psychology, received $582,000 from the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development for her project “Cognitive, Socioaffective, and Neural Development Following Fetal Zika Virus Infection.”
- Erie Boorman, assistant professor of psychology, received $557,000 from the National Institute of Mental Health for his project “Cognitive Maps For Goal-directed Decision Making.”
- Andrew Fox, assistant professor of psychology, received $772,000 from the National Institute of Mental Health for his project “Origins and Emergence of Maladaptive Socioemotional Behavior During the Transition to Adulthood in Primates.”
- Carlito Lebrilla, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, received $618,000 from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive & Kidney Diseases for his project “Annotating Carbohydrate Structures to Develop Markers for Consumption of Food.”
Awards from the National Science Foundation
- Javier Arsuaga, professor of mathematics, received $389,000 from the National Science Foundation to launch a research undergraduate experience (REU) for undergraduates in pure and applied mathematics.
- John Henderson, professor of psychology, received $563,000 from the National Science Foundation for his project “Attentional Guidance in Real-World Scenes: The Role of Meaning.”
- Gregory Kuperberg, professor of mathematics, received $495,000 from the National Science Foundation for his project “A Research Triangle of Quantum Mathematics, Computational Complexity, and Geometric Topology.”
- Dawn Sumner, professor of earth and planetary sciences, received $799,000 from the National Science Foundation for her project “Seasonal Primary Productivity and Nitrogen Cycling in Photosynthetic Mats, Lake Fryxell, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica.”
- Four assistant professors received CAREER awards — Kyle Crabtree, chemistry; Laura Starkston, mathematics; Jesús Velázquez, chemistry; and Andrew Wetzel, physics.
— Becky Oskin, content strategist in the College of Letters and Science