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UCR faculty receive new NSF grants to boost U.S. technology prowess

UCR faculty receive new NSF grants to boost U.S. technology prowess

(September 13, 2000)

Scientists at the University of California, Riverside are among those announced today as participants in the National Science Foundation Information Technology Research Initiative, a new $90 million program designed to maintain the nation's position as a world leader in technology.

Two projects related to UCR — one related to breeding better crops and another related to making a better computer chip — are among 200 projects funded in a competitive process that drew 1,400 applications from researchers around the nation. The UCR portion of the grant money is an estimated $705,700.

UCR Professor of Computer Science Tao Jiang and Distinguished Professor of Genetics Michael Clegg are co-investigators with a UC Santa Barbara professor on a $785,000 project called "Computational Techniques for Applied Bioinformatics." The three-year project will develop the computer tools necessary for analyzing and storing information crucial to the study of plant genomics, a field that will lead to more nutritious foods and more effective pharmaceuticals. UCR's portion of the grant amounts to $490,000.

"There is an enormous demand in both academia and industry for people with bioinformatics skills," said Jiang, the lead investigator. "With the near completion of the Human Genome Project and similar efforts in plant genomics underway, there is an urgent need for people who know how to turn data into knowledge. Our research program will help foster interactions between the computer science community and the biology community, and produce students with knowledge and skills in both fields."

Walid Najjar, a newly recruited professor of computer science at UCR's Bourns College of Engineering, is part of a collaborative $500,000 project at the University of California, Irvine called "Synthesis of Adaptive Mission Specific Processors." The project relates to advancing the design and manufacture of specialized computer chips, embedded in all kinds of consumer products. Najjar, a co-investigator working with Fadi Kurdahi of UC Irvine, will receive $215,700 over three years.

"These projects represent major innovations in information technology, rather than routine applications of existing technology," said NSF director Rita Colwell. "Our strategy to support long-term, high-risk research responds to a challenge from the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), which called for increased federal investment to maintain the U.S. lead in this important sector of the global economy."

Colwell said the Information Technology Research Initiative emphasizes the subject areas of software; scalable information infrastructure; information management; revolutionary computing; human-computer interfaces; advanced computational science; education and workforce; and social or economic implications of IT. The program's main goals are to augment the nation's IT knowledge base and strengthen the IT workforce.

"This initiative will help strengthen America's leadership in a sector that has accounted for one-third of U.S. economic growth in recent years," said President Bill Clinton. "High technology is generating jobs that pay 85 percent more than the average private sector wage. I am pleased that the National Science Foundation is expanding its investment in long-term information technology research. I urge the Congress to provide full funding for NSF so that they can continue to make these kinds of investments in America's future."

Further Resources:

NSF media contact:
Tom Garritano
(703) 292-8070/

NSF program contact:
Michael Lesk
(703) 292-8930/

For a complete list of ITR awards and project abstracts, see:

For the PITAC report, see

The University of California, Riverside ( 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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