Seven young UC Irvine scientists have nabbed coveted National Science Foundation awards that could mean up to $100,000 in research funds for each of the next five years, according to university officials.
"We are overjoyed," said Harold W. Moore, dean of UCI's school of physical sciences, whose faculty members received five of the seven grants.
"These awards confirm that we are building programs of the highest quality with some of the best scientific minds in the country."
This year, the National Science Foundation has given 202 of the Young Investigator Awards, which go annually to the nation's most promising young researchers.
Only scientists and engineers who have received their Ph.Ds within the last five years are eligible for the grants, which guarantee $25,000 a year and an additional maximum of $37,500 a year to match money or equipment raised from private sources.
UCLA, with eight recipients, garnered the most Young Investigator Awards of any single campus in the United States.
UCI tied for second place with the University of Michigan and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
NSF officials have said the goal of the program is to give young researchers the funding to launch their research at a time when most grants go to established scientists.
UCI awardees include Steven Barwick, an astrophysicist who is part of a team of researchers seeking evidence of high-energy neutrinos (subatomic particles with little or no mass that travel about as fast as the speed of light) by means of an array of sensors buried in the ice pack of Antarctica, and Darin Toohey, a researcher specializing in atmospheric gases and global warming and one of the first faculty members hired for UCI's fledgling geosciences department.
Other recipients are: David Eppstein of the information and computer science department; physicist Rognvald Garden; civil engineer Teresa Olson, and chemists James Nowick and Reginald Penner.
Another UCI researcher, chemistry professor A.J. Shaka, is one of 30 U.S. scientists and researchers to receive a Presidential Faculty Fellows award.
The National Science Foundation award provides up to $100,000 a year for five years to professors who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and research.