Seed funding grants for early-stage research, creative projects awarded to 19 recipients

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The UCSC Research Office awarded funds this month to 19 projects in its first Seed funding for early-stage initiatives program. Although a primary goal of seed funds is the submission of a major federal or philanthropic grant application, other measurable outcomes could include the availability of new research or artistic infrastructure; strong preliminary data; a formal pitch to an editor; or lay 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 innovates across intellectual boundaries,” said John MacMillan, Acting Vice Chancellor for Research. “I can’t wait to see what these diverse groups can accomplish working together.”

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

Here 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, Cellular and Developmental Biology Susan Carpenter.
  • Combining aDNA and stable isotope analysis to reconstruct 6,000 years of diverse salmon life history, under the direction of Eric Palkovacs, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, in collaboration with the Institute of Ocean Sciences Project Scientist Malta Willmes, Associate Researcher at the Institute of Ocean Sciences Rachel Johnson, assistant professor of ocean sciences John Carlos Garza, physical and biological science 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, along with Director of Services for Transferred and Reintegrating Students (STARS) Sara Radoff, Director of HSI Initiatives Charis Herzon (HSII), and graduate student Valeria Alonso Blanco.
  • dehydrated landscapes, led by Assistant Professor of Environmental Art, Jorgge Menna Barreto.
  • Develop protective biofilms that inhibit microbial corrosion, led by Professor and Head of the Department of Environmental Microbiology and Toxicology Chad Saltikov, in collaboration with Fitnat Yildiz, Professor of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology, and Yat Li, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
  • Development of heterogeneous catalysts to recover PVC waste, led by Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Rebecca Braslau, in collaboration with Scott Oliver, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
  • Improved data network security through 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 Educationled by Assistant Professor of Education Rekia Jibrin, in collaboration with Josephine H. Pham, Assistant Professor of Education, Daisy Martin, Director of the 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.
  • LIGHTS NEXT TIME, led by Co-Director of the Center for the Study of 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 to inclusion, led by Associate Professor of Politics Sara Niedzwiecki.
  • The lasting impact of structural racism and racial violence on cognitive health later in life, led by Assistant Professor of Sociology Alicia Riley.
  • Lost Histories of Asian American Labor: Researching and Planning an Integrated Exhibit on the Arts and Oral History of the Pajaro Valleyled by assistant professor of history Kathleen Gutierrez, in collaboration with Steve McKay, associate professor of sociology, Nathaniel Deutsch, director of the Institute for the Humanities, graduate students Christina Plank and Meleia Simon-Reynolds.
  • New restoration of coral reefs 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.
  • Reconstruction of 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.
  • Robust 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 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 Assistant Professor at the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP), Vitaliy Fadeyev, Research Scientist and Assistant Professor at SCIPP, Alex Grillo, research physicist in physics, and Jason Nielsen, director of the SCIPP.
  • China Transnational Research Center, led by Associate Professor of History Shelly Chan, in collaboration with Minghui Hu, Associate Professor of History, Benjamin Read, Head of the Department of Politics, and Yiman Wang, Professor of Film and Digital Media.

Basic scholarships range from $7,250 to $30,000 for start-up activities. An additional $10,000 is available for applicants with a part-time Summer Graduate Student (RSG) researcher. All but three of the 19 winners allocated funds to summer home childcare providers.

Seed funding for early stage initiatives should be an annual program.

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