UNC system awards $1.7 million in research grants

Among the recipients are two research teams at UNC-Charlotte, one at UNC-Chapel Hill and one at Appalachian State University, according to a UNC-system press release.

Erin Hopper, director of research at the UNC Research Opportunities Initiative, said the grant is the second part of a program the state intended to encourage research opportunities.

“UNC-Chapel Hill has been a really strong partner with multiple campuses in the first go-round, and we’re happy to see that they are involved in this go-round as well,” she said.

Bob Wilhelm, vice chancellor for research and economic development at UNC-C, said he was happy the school’s researchers received grants and is looking forward to further cooperation with UNC-CH.

“We are really pleased that we can partner with UNC-Chapel Hill on a data science planning grant that has numerous manufacturing data and applying different kinds of analytic techniques to manufacturing,” he said.

The press release said the program’s first round was a major success and attracted $7.5 million in additional external grants to projects in the UNC system.

“The state of North Carolina is already reaping the benefits of the first round of UNC (Research Opportunities Initiative) funding,” said UNC-system President Margaret Spellings in the press release.

Hopper said the program’s goal is to find practical uses for research.

“Part of the goal of this program is not only to support research in these primary areas, but also to support the commercialization of research of projects that can eventually be taken to the market,” she said.

Hopper said several companies will also be involved in the team research projects.

Arcot Rajasekar, professor at the UNC-CH School of Information and Library Science, is working on a project to bring developments in big data to cities and small communities.

He said Chapel Hill is an example that other cities can learn from.

“Most of our programs can easily be translated into other, smaller communities, and then they can also learn from other communities and how they are using data and information to figure out how to include their lifestyles and socioeconomic conditions,” Rajasekar said.

John Ziegert, a co-principal investigator of an additive manufacturing project at UNC-C that received UNC-system funding, said their research has a strong focus on helping manufacturers in the state.

“Our goal is to try to understand the science that’s behind it, so that we can move forward and help ... North Carolina-based manufacturers gain a competitive advantage,” Ziegert said.

@VincentVeerbeek

state@dailytarheel.com

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