Wayne State University

URC reports energy gains; announces three joint symposia

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. – Michigan’s University Research Corridor Thursday announced steady progress on recent energy research grants while unveiling three new URC-supported collaborations.

A URC-supported collaboration between researchers at Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University began with a $523,282 seed grant that helped the researchers win a $12.5 million federal grant less than a year later, leading to scientific progress and several new partnerships and publications, said URC Executive Director Jeff Mason.

“The University Research Corridor support for our work on nanocomposites played an instrumental role in MSU landing a U.S. Department of Energy-funded Energy Frontier Research Center,’’ MSU’s Donald Morelli and colleagues from U-M and WSU said in a report issued by the three-university team.

Mason, who joins business and government leaders this afternoon at a Mackinac Policy Conference panel entitled “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Jobs in New Industries, Jobs with New Opportunities,’’ stressed that the state’s research universities are an active partner in developing new industries.

“Research and development often light the spark that make new ideas spread like wild fire,’’ Mason said. “The more we work together, the quicker the progress.’’

New collaborations are being encouraged regularly. The URC announced in January a competitive program to award funding to support the sponsorship from symposia on major research topics with the potential to lead to new research funding opportunities. Researchers from the three universities submitted 36 proposals to the vice presidents of research at the URC universities, who gave their highest rankings to three proposals:

  • A three-university partnership to develop “Innovation in Water Science and Technology, Education and Entrepreneurship – Creating Michigan’s WaterHub through Academic-Government-Private Partnerships.’’ Co-chairs: Joan Rose (MSU); Carol Miller (WSU); Nancy Love (U-M).
  • Creating, Enhancing, and Sustaining Livable Communities: URC Co-chairs: Laura Reese (MSU) and Robin Boyle (WSU).
  • The 2nd Michigan Collaborative Research Symposium on Cerebral Palsy: Developing Collaborative Research with the CP Community: URC Co-chairs: Edward Hurvitz (U-M); Nigel Paneth (MSU); Sujatha Kannan (WSU).

Another URC-supported research project, involving efforts by the three universities to turn biomass such as corn stover and switch grass into fermentable sugars, high quality pulps, high-value added chemicals and other bio-based products has already resulted in several patent applications, publications and scientific presentations and four new collaborations.

For more on the URC, visit: www.urcmich.org

For more on the Morelli team’s efforts, including a recent appearance on “Greening of the Great Lakes,’’ visit: http://www.mlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2010/05/don_morelli_transferring_waste.html