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Virginia Tech research funded by recovery act approaches $35 million


BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 2, 2010 – Virginia Tech faculty members have been awarded $28,689,393 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in fiscal year 2010 (ending June 30, 2010) to support 76 research projects. Awards since the act was passed in February 2009 total $34,561,554 for 91 projects.

The funds help support students and staff working on the projects and have enabled purchase of major research instrumentation, said Robert Walters, vice president for research at Virginia Tech. For example, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded two major research instrumentation grants, one for $2 million to acquire a versatile heterogeneous supercomputer, and one for $ 661,240 to develop an instrument that measures the nanoscale forces involved in the motion of molecules in fluids, which will improve the understanding of motion of complex fluids, including biomolecules.

Of the 91 awards, 47 are from the NSF, including five Faculty Early Career Development awards, the NSF's most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who have demonstrated outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research. Two of the four U.S. Department of Energy grants are also Early Career Research Program awards.

There are 15 National Institutes of Health research grants. "Such awards are indicative of Virginia Tech’s growing prominence in health-related research, an area poised to become a growth sector within our institution’s research portfolio in the coming years," said Walters.

NIH awards include National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grants to identify targets for intervention of chronic human inflammatory diseases, to develop assays to detect infectious organisms, and to control mosquito-borne infectious diseases, such as malaria LaCrosse encephalitis.

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has awarded two grants to study determinants of bacterial virulence and biofilm formation, and extended research by Stephen Eubank, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute professor, to study and model the emergence and spread of infectious diseases.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases awarded $419,230 to Padma Rajagopalan, assistant professor of chemical engineering, to develop three-dimensional liver mimics comprised of cells found in livers, which will help research disease processes. A $145,826 National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant to Martha Ann Bell, associate professor of psychology, supports her research on Attention and Memory: Mother-Child Psychophysiology and Behavior.

Other awards include, from the U.S. Department of Justice, a $354,794 cooperative agreement with Steve Ellingson, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, to develop antenna systems for multiband mobile and portable radio; and from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a $580,493 grant to Finley Charney, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and M.P. Shing, professor in engineering science and mechanics, for Development and Evaluation of Performance Based Earthquake Engineering Compliant Structural Systems.

There were 24 subawards to Virginia Tech from businesses, agencies, and institutions that received ARRA funding. For example, Community Housing Partners, a regional, not-for-profit housing and community development corporation, received stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration, and subsequently awarded $474,652 to Virginia Tech faculty members to be part of a collaboration to upgrade regional training capacities in western Virginia to offer energy conservation certification opportunities and update the skills of construction and retrofitting industry workers to help them compete in green building occupations.

A list of the Virginia Tech ARRA funded research projects, with brief descriptions and numbers of people supported, is posted online. Learn more about ARRA at other universities at ScienceWorksForUS.org.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 225 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $496 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.