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January 24, 2005

Four Proposals Funded Through
Provost’s Grant Competition

Four programs that feature an interdisciplinary approach and the promise of future grant funding have been awarded between $400,000 and $450,000 each through the 2004 Provost’s Grant Competition.

Spanning the fields of human rights, structural biology, data collection, health, and including both undergraduate and graduate research opportunities, the four proposals impressed the Provost’s Grant Competition Committee, said Suman Singha, vice provost for academic programs, who chaired the committee that selected the grant recipients.

“These are very strong, comprehensive proposals, built on foundations of excellence that give them every chance of success,” he said.

Added Fred Maryanski, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, “The competition was created as a component of the Academic Plan in order to foster innovative, interdisciplinary thinking. That goal was clearly met by the first set of programs.”

The funded proposals are:

  • Foundations of Humanitarianism: A Program for Research and Teaching, a partnership between the Humanities Institute, the Human Rights Institute, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the schools of fine arts and law. Principal investigators Richard Brown, a history professor and director of the Humanities Institute, and Richard Wilson, a professor of anthropology and director of the Human Rights Institute, say they expect to make UConn a leading international academic center for humanities-oriented research and teaching. The proposal envisions curriculum development, supervised research, research internships, collaborations with scholars from other institutions and, in 2006, an international conference on “Narratives of Terror and Humanitarian Responses.”
  • A Partnership for Excellence in Structural Biology, which will bring together researchers from Storrs and the Health Center to focus on the development of three research areas that are at the forefront of structural biology: macromolecular assemblies, membrane proteins, and computation and modeling, says principal investigator Philip Yeagle, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology;
  • The Center for Internet Data & Research Intelligence Services (CIDRIS) will draw expertise from the departments of operations and information management, marketing, computer sciences, statistics, and communication sciences. Principal investigator Paulo Goes, a professor of operations and information management, says the center will establish UConn as a leader in real time internet data collection, validation, and analysis, able to grab and store data including auction bids, blogging sites, and other information that is available for “only a fleeting moment.” Goes says CIDRIS already has received partnering interest from the universities of Maryland, Minnesota, and Arizona, as well as a number of publicly-traded and charitable organizations;
  • And a Collaboratory for Rehabilitation Research (CoRR), involving the departments of psychology and physical therapy. Principal investigator Michael Turvey, a professor of psychology, says CoRR will be an applied research unit of the Center for the Ecological Study of Perception and Action, initially exploring the rehabilitation implications of two of the center’s signature research lines: muscle-based perception and inter-limb coordination. Long-range planning includes post-doctoral and graduate education in basic and applied perception-action research; establishing a clearing house to evaluate and disseminate existing research that will influence therapeutic interventions; developing workshops and a website; and working with the private sector to translate information into products that will enhance the lives of people with movement disorders.

There were 48 pre-proposals submitted for the grants, and seven were invited to submit full proposals. The four awards were made based on a range of factors, including the ability of the recipients to strategically advance one of the areas of emphasis in the University’s Academic Plan. The proposals also were required to hold the promise of sustainability once the internal award period ended. Proposals that involved collaboration with other schools, colleges, or departments were encouraged. The proposals were weighed by an eight-member peer review panel, and the recipients were announced at the end of the fall semester.

“All the proposals were excellent,” Singha says, “but the committee believed that these four stood out, and there is every likelihood that these projects will be able to enhance external funding within the next few years.”