Seed funding grants for early-stage research, creative projects given to 19 awardees

Date
esmith16@ucsc.edu (Elisa Smith)

The UCSC Office of Research has awarded funds this month to 19 projects through its inaugural Seed Funding for Early Stage Initiatives program. While a primary goal of the seed funds is the submission of a major federal or philanthropic grant application, other measurable outcomes might include the availability of new research or artistic infrastructure; robust preliminary data; a formal pitch to a publisher; or laying the groundwork for creative works such as exhibitions or films.

“This new program showcases the depth of our collaboration both on campus and in the community and how our faculty are innovating across intellectual boundaries,” said John MacMillan, interim vice chancellor for research. “I look forward to seeing what these diverse groups can accomplish in their work together.”

The projects represent 25 units across campus in five academic divisions and the Division of Student Affairs & Success. Six projects feature cross-divisional collaborations, and several projects include community or government partners.

Following is a list of funded projects and affiliated UCSC collaborators:

  • Advancing Stem Cell Biology with CRISPR, led by Camilla Forsberg, professor of biomolecular engineering, in collaboration with assistant professor of biomolecular engineering Ali Shariati, assistant professor of biomolecular engineering Daniel Kim, and professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology Susan Carpenter.
  • Combining aDNA and stable isotope analysis to reconstruct 6,000 years of salmon life history diversity, led by Eric Palkovacs, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, in collaboration with assistant project scientist for the Institute of Marine Sciences Malte Willmes, associate researcher for the Institute of Marine Sciences Rachel Johnson, adjunct professor of ocean sciences John Carlos Garza, physical and biological sciences dean Paul Koch, and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Beth Shapiro.
  • Cultivating the Transfer Landscape: Assessing Racial Equity for Community College Transfers, led by assistant professor of psychology Saskias Casanova, in collaboration with director of Services for Transfer and Re-entry Students (STARS) Sara Radoff, director of HSI initiatives Charis Herzon (HSII), and graduate student Valeria Alonso Blanco.
  • Dehydrated Landscapes, led by assistant professor in environmental art, Jorgge Menna Barreto.
  • Developing protective biofilms that inhibit microbial-induced corrosion, led by professor of the microbiology and environmental toxicology department Chad Saltikov, in collaboration with Fitnat Yildiz, professor and chair of microbiology and environmental toxicology, and Yat Li, professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
  • Development of Heterogeneous Catalysts to Upcycle PVC Waste, led by professor of chemistry and biochemistry Rebecca Braslau, in collaboration with  Scott Oliver, professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
  • Enhancing Security of Data Networks via Cross-Layer Device Fingerprinting Techniques, led by assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering Zouheir Rezki, in collaboration with Katia Obraczka, professor of computer science and engineering.
  • Ethnic Studies Research Collaboration with Santa Cruz County Office of Education, led by assistant professor of education Rekia Jibrin, in collaboration with Josephine H. Pham, assistant professor of education, Daisy Martin, director of History and Civics Project, Cynthia Lewis, professor and chair of education, Christine Hong, associate professor of critical race and ethnic studies. 
  • Eureka! Led by professor of film and digital media John Jota Leanos.
  • FIRES NEXT TIME, led by co-director of the Center for the Study of the Force Majeure Joshua Harrison, in collaboration with Kai Zhu, associate professor of environmental studies, and Katia Obraszka, professor of computer science and engineering.
  • Immigration and Social Policy in Latin America: Barriers for Inclusion, led by associate professor of politics Sara Niedzwiecki.
  • The Lasting Impact of Structural Racism and Racial Violence on Cognitive Health in Later Life, led by assistant professor in sociology Alicia Riley.
  • Lost Stories of Asian American Labor: Research & Planning for an Integrated Exhibit of Arts and Oral History from the Pajaro Valley, led by assistant professor of history Kathleen Gutierrez, in collaboration with Steve McKay, associate professor of sociology, Nathaniel Deutsch, director of the Humanities Institute, graduate students Christina Plank and Meleia Simon-Reynolds.
  • Novel coral reef restoration without generating harmful chlorine, led by professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Donald Potts, in collaboration with Nobby Kobayashi, professor of electrical and computer engineering.  
  • Reconstructing the past collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, led by associate professor of earth and planetary sciences Terrence Blackburn, in collaboration with Slawek Tulaczyk, professor of earth and planetary sciences.
  • RICHLAND, led by professor of film and digital media Irene Lusztig. 
  • Robustifying Machine Learning for Safe and Secure Autonomous Vehicles, led by assistant professor of computer science and engineering Leilani Gilpin, in collaboration with Alvaro Cardenas, associate professor of computer science and engineering, Daniel Fremont, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, and Cihang Xie, assistant professor of computer science and engineering.
  • Thin Films for Next Generation Tracking Detectors, led by associate professor of physics Michael Hance, in collaboration with Anthony Affolder, research scientist and adjunct professor of Santa Cruz Institute of Particle Physics (SCIPP), Vitaliy Fadeyev, research scientist and adjunct professor of SCIPP, Alex Grillo, research physicist in physics, and Jason Nielsen, director of SCIPP. 
  • Transnational China Research Hub, led by associate professor of history Shelly Chan, in collaboration with Minghui Hu, associate professor of history, Benjamin Read, department chair of politics, and Yiman Wang, professor of film and digital media.

The base awards range from $7,250 to $30,000 for early-stage activities. An additional $10,000 is available to applicants with a part-time summer graduate student researcher (GSR). All but three of the 19 awardees allocated funding to Summer GSRs.

The Seed Funding for Early Stage Initiatives is expected to be an annual program.