Faculty outlines funding proposals

UH researchers will request federal funding from the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Representatives of the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and Department of Energy outlined projects to be submited for the funds in a videoconference with UH faculty members Thursday.

Carol McGuire, a representative of the government relations firm Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, said the Department of Energy (DOE) was a ‘big winner’ in President Obama’s stimulus plan, with $40 billion in additional funding coming in over the next two years to facilitate Obama’s energy plan.

‘It’s a key agency for President Obama’s initiative in energy independence and climate change,’ McGuire said. ‘That’s definitely reflected in the allocation of stimulus funding.’

Some of the money will be used for infrastructure and renovation within the DOE, but billions will be awarded to labs and research projects across the nation.

More than $12.2 billion will be spent on a wide range of energy projects.

‘There will be research opportunities in energy efficiency and renewable energy development, in fossil energy R&D and in developing the smart electricity grid,’ McGuire said. ‘Partnerships can include the DOE labs as well as universities.’

Lewis-Burke’s Jon Retzlaff said nearly $10.5 billion will be divided into ‘buckets’ by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The largest bucket will be $7.4 billion that will go to peer-reviewed projects that are approved, but currently unfunded, in addition to supplementing existing grants.

NIH challenge grants will receive $200 million over the next two years to encourage research in 15 areas the NIH believes represent promising research opportunities. Universities must apply for these grants by April 27.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) will receive an additional $3 billion in addition to its annual budget of $6 billion that goes to research projects, instrumentation and infrastructure for universities across the nation said Elizabeth Grossman, a Lewis-Burke representative.

UH can benefit from the $53.6 billion in Pell Grants available to students and the $100 million for teacher-quality-enhancement grants, which can be applied for in 30 to 45 days.

The conference was set up by Don Birx, vice chancellor for research, and Jacqueline Trahan from the Office of Research Initiatives.

‘We’ve got six research clusters and we tried to match up where UH’s strengths are with what the opportunities are for these funding agencies,’ Birx said.

Associate professor Seamus Curran said that the physics department will probably submit a program for developing solar energy.

‘The meeting was very good,’ Curran said. ‘It now depends on the faculty to react to this meeting because we got a lot of information so we need to be active.’

Anne Jacobson, a philosophy and electrical and computer engineering (ECE) professor, said this meeting was helpful to faculty members. Jacobson directs a research group in functional magnetic resonance imaging.

‘This is a very good sort of meeting,’ Jacobson said. ‘Meetings like this create a synergy among researchers so that you get an increase in excitement, focus and interest.’

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