Dept. of Defense Announces Research Awards to Scripps


The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) awarded researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, four University Research Initiative (URI) grants to develop instrumentation and perform field research with national security applications.

“Our faculty’s success in winning these competitive awards stems from our long history of multidisciplinary work and our strength in establishing effective collaborations across our campus and nation,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla.

URI supports multidisciplinary scientific research on high priority topics identified in the Naval Science and Technology Strategic Plan. Ultimately, this funding enables the Navy to maintain its technical superiority by hastening the transition of basic research to practical applications.   One component of the URI program, the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program, funds multi-disciplinary research proposals involving multiple institutions.

“I'm proud of the valuable research performed by Scripps and UCSD, and am pleased to see them properly recognized for their continuing efforts by the Department of Defense,” said U.S. Rep. Susan Davis, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. “I have long been an ardent supporter of the collaboration between the DoD and our research universities.  These grants will enable Scripps and UCSD to help us better understand our oceans and provide critical information to the Navy about its primary operating environment.”

One of UC San Diego’s MURI awards supports a multi-year analysis of ocean noise.  Of 15 MURI awards given to academic institutions across the country, UC San Diego is the lead institution on three and a co-lead on a fourth.

The Scripps MURI research is led by marine physicist William Kuperman.  Kuperman is joined by Scripps researchers Bruce Cornuelle, William Hodgkiss, and Peter Gerstoft and colleagues from four other institutions who will monitor sounds in the ocean.  The research is laying the foundation for developing a reliable, passive means of enhancing ocean awareness. 

The highly competitive MURI program complements other DoD basic research efforts that support traditional, single-investigator university research grants by supporting multidisciplinary teams with larger and longer awards, in carefully chosen research topics identified for their potential for significant and sustained progress. As with single investigator awards, MURI awards provide strong support for the education and training of graduate students in new, cutting edge research.

“Innovative thinking and creative partnerships are the hallmarks of our university’s research enterprise,” said Vice Chancellor for Research Sandra A. Brown. “This impressive award validates the bold approach of these and other faculty members and researchers.”

Another part of the URI, the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) provides U.S. academic institutions vital funds for the purchase and development of instruments necessary for critical naval research. DURIP is an important means of acquiring new national-security relevant research capabilities. Furthermore, the technologies developed and acquired through the DURIP process ensure that the next generation of scientists and engineers are trained with cutting-edge capabilities.  DURIP program benefits also include cost-effective testing of new equipment in the rigors of the ocean environment in order to fully develop identification and recovery methods prior to actual field operations.

DURIP grants to Scripps include:

  • Integrated acoustics sensors: A DURIP award to Scripps Associate Director Bruce Appelgate will enhance the research capability of R/V Sally Ride, the Navy-owned research vessel now under construction, which will be operated by Scripps. This award will fund the installation of a multispectral scientific echosounder that will complement the suite of high-performance sensors already integrated aboard R/V Sally Ride. This echosounder uses five discrete frequencies to conduct fisheries research that is critical for understanding ocean ecosystems such as that of the rich and diverse California Current, which is of vital economic importance to California and the United States as a whole. This sensor will provide data essential for quantitative estimates of the biomass of organisms in the size range from krill to schooling fish for several hundred meters through the water column, which is required for effective future ecosystem-based fisheries management practices.
  • Oceanographic radar: DURIP funds will support the design, fabrication, and testing of a new type of Doppler X-band radar for mapping ocean surface waves and currents, said Scripps physical oceanographer Eric Terrill.   The radar technology will be used in a variety of research programs including efforts directed at ship motions, ultimately leading to the design of safer ships.
  • Acoustic Arrays: Marine acoustics researcher Bill Hodgkiss was awarded two DURIPs for acoustic array systems. 

DURIP is a rigorous and competitive grants program managed by the Services enabling defense-critical research projects at academic institutions to acquire needed technical resources by the purchase or development of instrumentation and infrastructure to meet national security needs. In the absence of other sources of funding, DURIPs are a key means of acquiring new national security-relevant research capabilities.

The other MURI awards awarded to UCSD will go to multi-institutional teams led by Neal Devaraj, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the Division of Physical Sciences and Yeshaiahu (Shaya) Fainman, professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering.

 UC San Diego won a total of seven DURIP grants in the current funding cycle. A total of 140 researchers from 77 academic institutions received DURIP awards.




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