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150 more professors win MCubed grants

By Tui Rademaker, Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 5, 2012

For faculty clamoring for to fund research initiatives, they now have the opportunity to vie for 150 additional $60,000 research grants in the second round of the University’s MCubed program.

MCubed is a new University-run program that funds faculty research projects through a semi-random selection process. Each faculty member is eligible for $20,000, but must pair up with two other researchers to form a “cube” that covers at least two different academic disciplines.

The first round of funding awards were announced via Twitter last month. Projects that received funding included research on environmental law, lung cancer treatments, cancer stem cell vaccination and a possible pill that is thought to mimic exercise.

Valerie Johnson, the program’s managing director, said the $15-million project was designed to award 200 grants over the course of its two-year pilot period. With the success of the first round announced in November, coordinators of the program have decided to continue into the second phase to provide maximum opportunities to interested faculty.

“We really want to enable faculty members to get students and other hires in place for January,” Johnson said. “Because our first cubing phase was so successful, we decided to move quickly and distribute the next batch of 150 cubes.”

Johnson said it is difficult to predict the number of faculty members applying for grant money for projects. In last month’s round of 50 grants, MCubed received 127 applications. As of Wednesday, the first day the program’s website was open to submitting applications, there were 72.

Unlike the announcement of the first rounds on Twitter, Johnson said this time the selected projects will appear on the MCubed website as soon as possible after the application process closes at noon on Dec. 17.

“We don’t anticipate a Twitter event this time because it would take three hours — we don’t know that that would hold a following for that time,” Johnson said.

Johnson said she is excited about the diversity of the topics represented in this round’s applications, noting there seemed to be a trend of projects involving research on sustainability and social networking.

“There are lots of interesting projects (in this next round),” Johnson said. “We’re trying to encourage people in the humanities and social sciences especially to participate.”

Among the array of unique projects that faculty members have submitted are an examination of architectural issues in hospitals, elections in the Philippines and the digital humanities, Johnson said.

About $5 million of MCubed’s $15 million in funding comes from the University’s Office of the Provost, while the remaining funding comes from faculty participants and campus units, which MCubed has divided by academic category.