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  February 23, 2004

$20 Million In Federal Funds
Targeted For UConn Research

For the third consecutive year, Congressional committees have targeted more than $20 million in federal funding for researchers at UConn's Storrs-based programs and at the Health Center.

The funding, which will allow faculty to conduct groundbreaking research in areas including agriculture, health, education, the environment, and life sciences, is included in a Department of Defense budget appropriation signed into law late last year, and the Omnibus Appropriations Bill signed Jan. 23. It continues funding for nine existing projects, and includes more than $6 million for new projects. Additionally, one of the continuing studies, the Long Island Sound Integrated Coastal Observing System, won a large increase, from $210,000 received in its first year of funding in 2003 to $1.8 million in the new legislation.

"Our ability to obtain Congressional support for research grants is a testament to the quality of the projects submitted by our faculty, and the efforts of Janet Greger and Gerry Maxwell to review and recommend superior proposals for submission to the Congressional delegation," says Alvin Wilson, director of governmental relations.

Greger is vice provost for research and graduate education for the Storrs-based programs; Maxwell is associate dean of the graduate school and faculty federal relations liaison for the Health Center.

"Ultimately," Wilson adds, "it is the diligent efforts of our members of Congress that make these appropriations possible."

Newly funded projects include a $2 million grant to the Center for Land Use Education and Research, a land use analysis and information resource for Connecticut's towns and cities. Funded through the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the project uses NASA satellites and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to track urban sprawl, farmland loss, water resources impairment, and other features of land use and abuse. State and local officials can use the findings to develop policies that will improve the quality of life for the state's citizens.

Two federal grants have been earmarked for the Health Center. The first is $1.3 million for the psychiatry department to begin a multi-year study evaluating the effectiveness of two

programs it developed to reduce criminal involvement among at-risk and previously incarcerated parents, and to help reduce behavioral problems in their children. One program is a pediatric primary care clinic that emphasizes direct behavioral health services and support for substance-affected parents. The second program focuses on early identification of children at risk of neglect in the Women, Infants and Children program for low-income mothers. This program provides ongoing intensive home and clinic assessments.

The second is a $2.4 million grant to the Cardiovascular Research Institute for research and development of new methods to enhance physical capacity and decrease muscle fatigue of soldiers in adverse environments. The effort is designed to help improve soldiers' ability to exercise at high altitude or during excessive heat or cold.

Funding extensions were granted to a number of existing research projects, including several - the Javits Gifted and Talented Student Education Program ($2.25 million), the National Undersea Research Program ($1.4 million), and the Food Marketing Policy Center ($585,000) - that have received federal backing for years. About half the Javits funding will be distributed to other universities who are partners with UConn.

Other programs that were renewed include the Center of Excellence for Vaccine Research ($2.4 million); the Fuel Cell Research Center ($1.44 million); the Biotechnology Center, to continue its study of bovine genetics ($1.56 million); the Research Center for Advanced Deployable Nano-Sensors ($1.2 million); and an ongoing study of the Connecticut River watershed and airshed ($1.5 million). Several of the grants are shared with partner universities.

The University also won a $500,000 award for the New England Green Chemistry Consortium, to approach the problem of pollution by designing products in a manner that reduces or removes hazardous substances during production, preventing the need for costly changes or clean-up after the product reaches the market. The funding will be shared with the universities of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The large funding increase for the Long Island Sound Integrated Coastal Observing System will allow faculty there to establish the observing system more quickly, fund several new graduate student positions, create more field opportunities for undergraduates, and provide new infrastructure for scientific research, says Jim O'Donnell, professor and interim head of the marine sciences department.

The coastal observing system includes a series of high-tech buoys equipped with an array of sensors that supply real-time data about the changes occurring in water conditions in the Sound and its estuaries. Other vital information will be collected

during experiments conducted from on board the research vessel Connecticut. O'Donnell says the data will be incorporated into physical and biological models, that will have many practical uses.

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