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  April 7, 2003

UConn Researchers To Receive
$20 Million In Federal Funds

Congressional committees have earmarked nearly $20 million for 11 UConn programs, that will support continued research on Long Island Sound, fuel cell technology, gifted education, and infectious diseases.

The federal funding, included in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill and the Defense Appropriations Bill, both approved in February, shows the confidence Connecticut's Congressional delegation has in the work of UConn researchers and signals the importance of the work done in Storrs, Avery Point and Farmington, says President Philip E. Austin.

"I'm extraordinarily pleased that our Congressional colleagues were able to secure this funding for our programs, especially in light of the nation's economic situation," Austin said. "It is a clear reflection of the quality of the research performed at this institution, and the belief in that research expressed by our congressional delegation. Sen. Dodd, as always, was a stalwart supporter of our programs, and I also extend the University's thanks to Sen. Lieberman and Reps. DeLauro, Johnson, Larson, Shays, and Simmons."

The appropriation includes $3.5 million for the School of Engineering's Global Fuel Cell Center, building on a $2.5 million grant in 2002. Researchers at the center are developing micro and miniature fuel cell systems, a promising energy technology that is portable, clean, quiet, and long lasting. UConn scientists are developing extremely small fuel cells that could be used in the military or commercial markets, including uses in motors, lights, communications systems, cell phones, and other electronic equipment.

Three programs received funding for the first time: a Health Center team received $900,000 to begin a study of bone and muscle changes in people more than 65 years old. The study also has implications for space travel, as astronauts suffer some of the same effects in zero gravity. A $500,000 award will enable the University to develop a multimedia/advanced technology center for its Program for Critical Languages, which will allow more students to study languages of strategic importance, such as Arabic. And a $210,000 grant will allow UConn to create the Long Island Sound Integrated Coastal Observing System, which will use remote sensing, instrumented buoys, and shipboard measurements to monitor the Sound.

"Ian Hart and Gerald Maxwell did an excellent job in selecting vital programs and explaining their value," said Alvin Wilson, director of governmental relations.

Several long running programs were refunded, including $2.2 million for the National Undersea Research Program (NURP). UConn is one of only six NURP sites nationally; $490,000 for the Food Marketing Policy Center; and about $2.25 million for the Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program run under the auspices of the Neag School of Education.

Efforts to increase the growth rates and disease resistance of rainbow trout and shrimp received $998,000. The program has previously received more than $2.4 million in federal funds, which has allowed UConn researchers to produce several groups of transgenic fish.

Other programs that received funding to continue their work include: research on using cells from cattle to create clones that could then be used as models to combat disease ($1 million); and phase II of a study at the UConn Health Center to develop vaccines for infectious diseases carried by ticks and mosquitoes ($2.1 million); and research on the sources and long-term effects of pollution on the Connecticut River Basin, and potential solutions for eradicating the pollutants ($1.35 million).