University researchers take on water, wildfires and more thanks to millions in ABOR research grants
University researchers studying cancer risk in firefighters, ways to enhance Arizona's groundwater supply, smart tree watering and mitigating wildfire risk are receiving a boost thanks to millions of dollars in Regents' Research Grants from the Arizona Board of Regents.
The Regents' Research Grants were established in the fall of 2021 to help address and develop solutions to critical issues facing Arizona and its citizens. The grants are funded by the Technology and Research Initiative Fund.
In the first round of grants, announced in April, ABOR awarded a total of $11.9 million in grants to the three state universities for five projects. The University of Arizona was included in four of those projects, which were awarded a total of $10.3 million. Those efforts focused on air quality, Valley fever, clean water and mining waste.
In the most recent round, announced in November, a total of $11.95 million was awarded, including $9.35 million for projects involving University researchers.
Learn more about the University of Arizona projects that received funding below.
Interventions to reduce firefighter cancer and cardiovascular risks: University of Arizona Health Sciences is partnering with Arizona State University and fire departments throughout Arizona to examine ways to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease among firefighters. The $4 million grant will allow researchers to test the effectiveness of blood or plasma donations in lowering levels of chemicals that increase the risk of disease. The research team includes Jeff Burgess, professor, and Melissa Furlong, assistant professor, both in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Read more about the research on the University News website.
Enhancing Arizona's groundwater supply: A $3.7 million grant will support researchers from the University of Arizona, ASU and Northern Arizona University as they examine water runoff, locations to recharge that water into groundwater and where to direct that runoff in the future. The team, which will work with the Arizona Department of Water Resources on the project, includes Katharine Jacobs, director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions and professor in the Department of Environmental Science, and Neha Gupta, program coordinator for the Arizona Institute for Resilient Environments and Societies' University Climate Change Coalition.
Smart tree watering to make urban environments more livable: Climate change has led to increased interest in planting trees to increase canopy cover, but ongoing drought in Arizona makes that a challenge. Researchers from the University of Arizona and ASU will use a $750,000 grant to compare standard tree watering practices with new techniques that may result in water savings. The team includes: Bo Yang, associate dean for research in the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture and professor in the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning; Shujuan Li, associate professor in the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning; Vanessa Buzzard, senior research specialist in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment; Grant McCormick, assistant director of Enterprise Geographic Information Systems for Planning, Design and Construction; and Douglas Loy, professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Mitigating wildfire risk: Researchers from the University of Arizona and NAU will work with the U.S. Geological Survey to develop a new 3D mapping and modeling tool designed to help fire departments and land managers more accurately predict fire and fuel behavior, especially in urban areas. A $900,000 grant will support the research. The team includes Tyson Swetnam, assistant research professor at the BIO5 Institute, Luke McGuire, associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, and Ann Youberg, senior research scientist with the Arizona Geological Survey.