UC Riverside’s Federal Funding Up $8 Million in 6 Months

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(Adapted from an article originally published by UCR Today on April 23, 2014)

Federal funding to the University of California, Riverside has increased by $8 million in 12 months (March 31, 2013 to March 31, 2014), a particularly welcome development at a time when federal funding cuts have cast a dark shadow on universities. The campus has a goal of tripling funding in about ten years, requiring an annual growth of about 14 percent.

“This is not unheard of,” says UC Riverside’s Michael Pazzani, the vice chancellor for research and economic development, who joined the university in 2012. “It will require a lot of hard work from everyone on campus. Other universities have experienced that kind of growth. So we know it is achievable.”

In the next five years, Pazzani wants to see the university gain a bigger market share.

“We want to do better than the 50 universities ahead of us,” he says. “We are currently among the top 100 universities. We have aspirations to moving into the top 50 universities.”

More and more companies are looking to universities as partners when they apply for federal grants. For example, a good number of Department of Defense grants want combined basic research and systems integration. Realistically, UCR — or any university — is not in a position to do systems integration, but having that industrial partner is an important way to approach the Department of Defense, in particular, for basic-research funding. The UCR home page has a button for industry. It provides an overview of what UCR has to offer industries: our graduating students as future employees and our current students as interns, to list just two examples.

Research across the board at the university is attracting industry attention. The Bourns College of Engineering continues to draw interest from industry. Our faculty in chemistry are working with industry also. There is expertise in statistics that we are finding ways for the outside world to tap into. In plant pathology, fundamental research on plants or plant diseases is being transferred to industry. Entomology is another strong area of interest where industry is concerned. Anandasankar Ray’s work is very appealing to industry, and has already resulted in the Kite Patch and DEET substitutes. Industry is also interested in our Citrus Variety Collection. We are forming a consortium of companies to support this prized collection, the goal being to maintain it the way you would maintain a library — a living library. Industry is very interested in tapping into this collection for inspirations on new flavors and fragrances.

Pazzani commented, "UCR is at a turning point. We have a new chancellor who is gung ho on executing on our strategic plan. With both federal funding and faculty recruiting, the university wants to see a streamlined path to turning our basic discoveries into products that benefit the world. For such commercialization to bear fruit, strong partnerships with the local community, state agencies, national agencies and, sometimes, even global institutions are crucial."

To read the full article and interview with Michael Pazzani, click here