UNL faculty earn $15.7 million in stimulus funding, more proposals pending

Released on 10/15/2009, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., October 15th, 2009 —

University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty have been awarded $15.7 million in grants funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through Sept. 30 to support research projects, according to UNL's Office of Research and Economic Development.

As of Sept. 30, UNL had received 45 competitive grants totaling $15,722,674 from federal agencies through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the federal economic stimulus legislation enacted in February. Individual grants range from around $25,000 to nearly $2.7 million and support a broad range of research across many academic disciplines. Nearly all of UNL's stimulus grants have come from the National Institutes for Health and the National Science Foundation.

UNL submitted 147 stimulus program funding proposals totaling $196.5 million through Sept. 30, the end of the first quarter of record-keeping for the stimulus awards. Many of those proposals are still pending with federal funding agencies.

"Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, our country is providing unprecedented funding for research in recognition that research is critical to the future of our economy," said UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman. "We have been aggressively pursuing these much-needed funds to support our research and to create and retain jobs and economic activity in Nebraska."

Competition for stimulus funding is intense, said Prem S. Paul, UNL vice chancellor for research and economic development, "but we have been successful in many areas, which demonstrates the high quality of both our faculty and their research.

"In talking with several faculty, it is clear the ARRA funding has added or retained jobs and has numerous indirect benefits to Nebraska."

Stimulus funding to UNL supports research spanning the spectrum from basic to applied research in diverse areas. For example:

* $2,684,370 from NSF's Office of Polar Programs, Antarctic Sciences Division, to Frank Rack, associate professor of geosciences and executive director of the Science Management Office for ANDRILL, the Antarctic geological drilling program, to support U.S. site surveys and planning activities for the next phase of drilling and research proposed by the ANDRILL program. UNL is home to the Science Management Office for the international ANDRILL program, which is drilling beneath Antarctica to reveal clues to past and future climate change.

* $1 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Larry Rilett, professor of civil engineering, who directs the university's Nebraska Transportation Center, for a clean diesel project to reduce diesel emissions by retrofitting vehicles to reduce harmful diesel emissions and improve air quality.

* $990,796 from the NIH National Cancer Institute to Charles Wood, professor of biological sciences and director of UNL's Nebraska Center for Virology, to develop an effective vaccine to guard against the herpes virus that causes Kaposi's sarcoma, a cancer prevalent among people with compromised immune systems, including people with AIDS and those who have had organ transplants. This builds on Wood's broader ongoing research on HIV/AIDS.

* $997,732 from the NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to Andy Benson, professor of food science and technology, for research on genetic control over gut microbiome composition to better identify genes that contribute to certain diseases. This work is part of UNL's Gut Function Initiative, an interdisciplinary research effort to understand the microbes that live in the gastrointestinal track with a goal of improving human health and fighting disease.

* $533,413 from the NIH National Institute of Drug Abuse, to Rick Bevins, professor of psychology, to build on his ongoing research on nicotine addition by studying the acquired appetitive properties of nicotine. Understanding the factors contributing to chronic tobacco use and nicotine dependence could lead to better treatment and prevention strategies.

* $375,670 from the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to Robert Powers, associate professor of chemistry, for research to enhance his team's functional annotation screening technology by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (FAST-NMR) assay. Perfecting this tool will help researchers determine the function of novel proteins identified by gene sequencing and their therapeutic potential in developing new drugs.

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