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Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) has awarded $1.5 million in funds to seed the first round of research grants to eight ASU professors. SFAz's Competitive Advantage Awards are a strategic investment designed to provide a catalyst for researchers of exceptional quality to help secure future federal funding.
"These awards will help to improve our environment, better understand Arizona air quality issues, and provide investments to boost nanotechnology, information technology and bioinformatics research," says Stephen Goodnick, ASU's associate vice president for research. "Science Foundation Arizona 's funding also provides an important mechanism for ASU to continue several high-impact research initiatives during a challenging period for securing federal grant funding."
SFAz's Competitive Advantage Award (CAA) focused support of outstanding Arizona researchers in three strategic areas:
• Advanced communications and information technologies.
• Sustainable systems.
The purpose of the initial CAA is to provide "gap" funding for proposals deemed most competitive for federal dollars.
"The projects funded by CAA are significant for many reasons, including the impact they will have in their fields and their potential to help create a research environment that supports a knowledge-driven economy," says William Harris, president and chief executive officer of SFAz.
The eight ASU research projects were part of 23 Arizona research proposals to receive $3.75 million in funding. The ASU recipients of SFAz funding include:
• Chitta Baral ($138,750) - Baral's project will expand on a new bioinformatics tool, CBioC, to help biomedical researchers improve information and data management.
• John Crittenden ($399,280) - Crittenden's project will provide holistic and systematic knowledge-based tools and strategies for more sustainable urban development.
• Joe Fernando ($106,660) - This project will develop predictive models of air circulation patterns for urban planning and management issues related to air and noise pollution and the "urban heat island."
• Sandeep Gupta ($299,740) - Gupta's research will focus on building greener data centers in Arizona by working on creative methods to boost efficiency, manage power consumption and address thermal management issues.
• Sudhir Kumar ($142,120) - Kumar's project will expand a bioinformatics database, called TimeTree, for assembling the timescale of life. The TimeTree database creates a relational database of life on Earth that is easy to use for researchers, the public and K-12 students.
• Valerie Stout ($98,690) - Stout will investigate the broad mechanisms a bacterium, Pseudomonas tolaasii, uses to cause disease in mushrooms and plants, which has relevance to valuable Arizona crops such as citrus and cotton.
• Wim Vermaas ($126,700) - Vermaas' research will look at the function and metabolism of light-protective and anti-oxidant compounds called carotenoids in cyanobacteria, a photosynthetic bacteria that has high potential as a sustainable biofuel.
• Neal Woodbury ($234,280) - Woodbury's research will focus on nanoscale techniques and imaging to understand gene regulatory networks relevant to health and disease.
Researchers were chosen based on quality of the proposal, quality and merit of the researchers' track records, and the strategic value and competitive advantage for Arizona .
This is the second major announcement of ASU funded initiatives by SFAz. ASU received $1.85 million to fund 37 top graduate research fellows in March. Funding for the SFAz investments came from Arizona 's 21st Century Fund, an initiative established by Gov. Janet Napolitano and the Arizona Legislature last year, which provided an initial $35 million in investments for graduate research fellowships, research and industry groups, small-business funding, and K-12 science and math education programs.
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