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CSUMB shares in 10-year grant from NASA

$32 Million is largest grant ever received by CSUMB

CSU Monterey Bay has been awarded a 10-year, $32 million NASA grant to continue research which includes wildfire monitoring, agricultural water management, flood forecasting and crop yield predictions.

The grant is part of a $137 million award to the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute of Sonoma, which will collaborate with CSUMB, UC Davis and the University of North Dakota.

The research being funded concerns critical areas such as basic climate processes and how they impact global ecosystems. Some of the work will involve satellites and unmanned drones.

CSUMB's share, awarded to the university's auxiliary, University Corporation at Monterey Bay, is $32.4 million. That's the largest grant ever received by the university. It will support 20 full-time research scientists and five to 10 student researchers each year. Most of the scientists will work at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in Mountain View. Collaborations with campus-based faculty members will be developed as part of the research.

Dr. Susan Alexander, professor in the Division of Science and Environmental Policy, heads the project for CSUMB.

"It's fantastic," Dr. Alexander said. "It's very exciting to have a 10-year commitment. Funding usually comes in one- to three-year cycles."

Scientists will study changes in ecosystems, climate and biodiversity, and will develop products to help land managers, agricultural producers and water managers throughout the U.S.

Projects include wildfire and natural disaster monitoring, flood forecasting, crop yield predictions and fog detection. Scientists will apply satellite data to study environmental conditions and ecological processes that affect agriculture, public health and vector borne disease.

Specific areas include daily or near real-time mapping of crop productivity and crop water demand in California; disease vectors and disease transmission risk across the U.S.; and coral reef health in the tropics.

Under the direction of Dr. Alexander, the university has collaborated with the NASA Ames Research Center since 1997. The two organizations conduct research in ecological and watershed systems with an emphasis on environmental problems and issues resulting from changing climatic and land-use patterns.

Graduate students in CSUMB's master's program in Coastal and Watershed Science and Policy and advanced undergraduates in the Environmental Science, Technology and Policy program will have the opportunity to work with researchers at NASA Ames. They will learn advanced geospatial technologies, conduct hands-on research activities in earth systems science, and participate in internship and career development programs at NASA.

Here a National Public Radio story about the grant