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Department of Defense Program : UC San Diego Wins $30 Million in Research Grants

July 11, 1986|LEONARD BERNSTEIN | Times Staff Writer

UC San Diego scientists and engineers have won more than $30 million in research grants under a new U.S. Department of Defense program designed to stimulate basic scientific research, university officials announced Thursday.

The three grants and one subcontract awarded to UCSD are part of the Defense Department's University Research Initiative, a program that sponsors research in 10 technologies applicable to national defense and encourages the training of teachers and graduate students in those fields.

"This is a very auspicious occasion for the university," UCSD Chancellor Richard Atkinson said. "It is another indication that UCSD is one of the truly outstanding research universities in this country."

In addition to the research and training that will be conducted with the funds, the San Diego economy will profit from the inclusion of private industry in some of the projects, Atkinson said.

The UCSD grants were among 86 awarded to researchers at 70 U.S. institutions after the Defense Department considered more than $6 billion in proposals from 175 universities. Other California institutions receiving grants included Caltech with four, USC and Stanford University with three each, UC Santa Barbara with two, and UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley and UCLA with one each. In all, the Defense Department will spend $110 million over the next two fiscal years.

Several of the schools, including UCSD, also received subcontracts to assist other universities with their research.

"We have a stake in keeping the universities strong, both from the standpoint of them educating a lot of scientists and engineers (and because) there's a lot of research that universities are better at," said Jan Bodanyi, a Defense Department spokesman.

All three grants awarded to UCSD are for unclassified research. None of the money is for research connected to President Reagan's proposed Strategic Defense Initiative, known as the "Star Wars" program.

The total funding for UCSD researchers is still being negotiated with the Defense Department, but officials said Thursday that they expect to receive more than $30 million over the next five years.

The projects are:

- An estimated $13.5-million award to UCSD's Institute of Nonlinear Science to study the transition of fluid from a smooth, regular flow to turbulent behavior. In 17 studies, scientists hope to understand and control such problems as drag, which slows airplanes and boats, and the action of bubbles that damage the blades of ship propellers and turbines.

- A $9.3-million award to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to chart turbulent eddies in the California Current about 100 miles offshore, and use high-technology devices to make the information quickly available to the Navy and commercial ships.

Submarines can use the information to avoid detection, while commercial fishermen will improve their ability to predict the location of schools of fish, said James Simpson, associate research oceanographer at Scripps. Ultimately, the researchers hope to use computer modeling to predict ocean patterns, much as weather patterns are forecast today.

- A $6-million award to establish a center for the study of man-made materials such as ceramics and alloys. The center, already approved in principle by the Defense Department, will examine the properties of new materials found in everything from scissor blades to the heat-shield tiles on space shuttles.

Knowledge of the materials' strength and brittleness, particularly under high stress and temperature, will be valuable to industries producing the products for commercial use. At least four San Diego firms and researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Los Alamos National Laboratory and other research centers will work with the new center's staff.

UCSD also received a subcontract that is part of a Johns Hopkins University research project.

In fiscal year 1984-85, the last year for which statistics are available, UCSD received $162 million in research grants, $22.6 million of it from the Defense Department. In recent years, the university has consistently ranked among the top 10 U.S. institutions in federal support for research.

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