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Graduate Fellowships Funded


UCR Gets Boost in Support for Graduate Education in Engineering

A U.S. Department of Education grant helps graduate engineering students achieve Ph.D.s in areas of national need such as chemical, environmental and bioengineering.

(June 13, 2006)

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Victor Rodgers

Victor Rodgers

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — www.ucr.edu — A team of University of California, Riverside researchers led by Bioengineering Professor Victor Rodgers has received a fellowship grant from the Department of Education to support U.S. graduate students in Chemical & Environmental Engineering and Bioengineering.

Rodgers is the Principal Investigator for the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need grant, known as GAANN. The five-year $475,000 program will be funded by $380,000 from the U.S. Department of Education with another $95,000 from UCR. The GAANN program under this grant takes effect in the fall of 2006.

“Simply put, the GAANN fellowship grant helps us recruit the very best engineering graduate students in the U.S.,” said Rodgers. “This award also helps further expose the excellent research effort of our, relatively young, Bourns College of Engineering to the nation. And because our GAANN fellows make a commitment to outreach in local schools, future technical career opportunities for local students are enhanced.”

Joining Rodgers are chemical & environmental engineering faculty members Sharon Walker, Jerome Schultz, Marc Deshusses and Mark Matsumoto. Schultz is also the Chairman of the newly-formed Department of Bioengineering at UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, expanding its efforts to provide engineers to California’s extensive biotechnology/biomedical device industry.

“UCR has initiated an ambitious and aggressive plan to enhance its programs in health related areas, including a Health Sciences Research Institute and a medical school,” Schultz said. “With this support from the (U.S.) Department of Education we will be able to attract and train highly qualified students to provide the technological base for these programs.”

The GAANN program provides assistance to graduate students pursuing Ph.D.s with excellent academic records who can also demonstrate financial need. Recipients use the elements of GAANN to hone their skills toward becoming excellent researchers, teachers and scholars. Participants must maintain a grade point average of 3.5 or higher and will be meeting at least quarterly with advisors. They will serve as teaching assistants for at least two quarters — twice as long as usual for Ph.D. candidates — while striving to become mentor teaching assistants. They will also mentor undergraduates in the laboratory and work with local K-12 students at outreach events to broaden their education and communications skills.

The grant will support four graduate student fellows, providing each with a stipend up to $30,000 per year, also providing the costs of fees, workshops, and mentoring and evaluation of their performance. The student-fellows will work with the college’s faculty on projects in crucial areas such as nanotechnology, environmental quality, health and electronic technologies. These areas are supported by governmental agencies including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, US Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Defense.

For the nation, programs such as GAANN help increase the number of graduate students obtaining doctoral degrees in areas of identified national needs. As homeland security illustrates, the U.S. needs to develop a new generation of sensors capable of detecting chemical and biological agents rapidly and accurately. For human health, research into “smart drugs” and engineered tissues help attack diseases that kill, disable and cost millions of dollars to treat. The electronics industry needs self-assembly techniques to unlock computing at the nanometer scale. And worldwide, the U.S. needs better approaches to energy, air and water pollution, and secure food supplies.

The current GAANN grant supports research in crucial areas, while helping support the growth of the bioengineering program, which marries living processes with other technologies to advance pharmaceuticals, medical device, and alternative energy development. GAANN also helps UCR achieve greater ethnic and gender diversity in its graduate student population. It also gives California students a greater chance to diversify the ranks of graduate engineering student, which are currently 70 percent foreign born.

For UCR, GAANN fellowhips have helped the campus create a support system that continues to attract students from diverse backgrounds who want to obtain doctoral degrees in areas of national importance. In 2003, the Department of Biology received a $953,000 GAANN grant, the second such grant since 1998. GAANN programs have also been secured by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and the Department of Chemistry.

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The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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