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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA garners five grants from the Department of Defense

The Department of Defense announced last week it would award the UA five grants to finance research for both military and non-military applications.

The Defense University Research Instrumentation Program, or DURIP, will split $37.8 million into 165 grants for 83 academic institutions. Awards will range from $50,000 to nearly $1 million, with the average award totaling $230,000.

“”These awards are prestigious and bring strength to the research community at the UA,”” said Armin Sorooshian, an assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering. “”This adds to the strong reputation of UA being a leader in research. Our own College of Engineering got two awards and six (Pacific 12 Conference) schools got only one or no awards in total.””

Nasser Peyghambarian, a professor of optical sciences who will work on packaging a 3-D holographic display system, said he expects his project to have a “”dual-use application,”” meaning civilians and the military will both directly benefit from it. Armed personnel could use the 3-D technology to scope out a scene of interest or communicate via telepresence, virtual technology that records 3-D images in one location and displays them somewhere else in real-time.

Those in fields such as telemedicine, advertising, entertainment and design may also find use for it.  

“”It is important to realize that much of what the military funds is really fundamental research,”” said J. Scott Tyo, another professor of optical sciences who has been funded by the Air Force to develop an instrument that will accurately measure polarization properties of reflected light. “”The Air Force is interested in using this research to improve their ability to have situational awareness on the battlefield.””

Tyo said that, though the work is funded through the military, the research that results could affect both the military and civilian sectors.

“”We do the work because there are interesting scientific questions that need to be answered,”” Tyo said. ””There might be a military use for it, but there might also be non-military applications.””

The Department of Defense announced award recipients one week ago, on June 8, well after the announcement’s expected release date around March 29. Tyo said this was a result of the late passage of the federal budget. It remains to be seen if the awards will be in place by June 15 as expected and the specific amount carried in each grant remains unknown.

Sorooshian said he was grateful for the opportunity to assist the Navy by providing detailed data of the particles that make up cloud droplets with his petitioned inlet system. He said that without this grant, it would be impossible to move his project forward. Sorooshian added that although he has not seen his financial award yet, he expects it to be very close to what he requested.

“”This is my first round with the DURIP,”” he said. “”When we write our proposal, we provide a detailed budget of exactly how much we need for what we’re doing. I don’t think they can shortchange anyone. My guess would be that … they have to give you pretty close to what you ask for because if they give you half of it, there’s no way you can get the piece of equipment.””

Leslie Tolbert, vice president of research, graduate studies and economic development whose offices oversee all funding proposals, said this story is still in its preliminary stages and that the full details may emerge around early August.

“”These faculty have been successful in winning awards in competition,”” Tolbert said. “”We’re delighted when our faculty compete and succeed. They’ll be able to work in areas of their expertise that move scientific knowledge forward. We hope that each of these five projects will be able to move technology along.””

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