University of San Diego Celebrates Inaugural Research Week

From collaboratively studying how student veterans in engineering majors acclimate to campus life, to educating leaders about climate change, to a faculty mentor working with an undergraduate on a toolkit to improve family therapy, research has become a big deal at the University of San Diego.

In 2004, the university received just over $16 million in public and private research funding. A decade later those awards have nearly doubled to more than $30 million.

From April 13 to 17, the University of San Diego will host its first annual Research Week celebrating the value and importance of research to the institution.

USD graduate students across campus are performing research that contributes to public knowledge and progress on key issues including human trafficking, improvement of mental health, empowerment of women and minorities, climate change, addressing religious conflict, and the improvement of educational techniques. At the undergraduate level, research is providing students with both theoretical and empirical opportunities to enhance learning and achievement.

“We are committed to nurturing, facilitating and supporting members of the campus community to grow a research enterprise positioned to increase USD’s standing among preeminent U.S. institutions,” said Traci Merrill, Director of Sponsored Programs.

Examples of grant-funded projects at USD include:

· $6.1 million for Climate Education Partners, aimed at developing innovative methods for educating leaders about climate change (funding provided by: The National Science Foundation).

· $2.6 million for the Justice in Mexico Project working to strengthen the rule of law and human rights in Mexico through research, training and policy engagement (funding provided by: MacArthur Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Tinker Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Open Society Foundation, and the U.S. Department of State).

· $2.3 million for legal clinics where USD law students provide the community free legal services in civil, entrepreneurship, tax and other legal fields (funding provided by: The State Bar of California, The U.S. Department of Treasury, and the California Endowment).

· $609,000 for STEM (Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Mathematics) Success to develop and implement a program to recruit, support and retain a diverse group of students from underrepresented and disadvantage backgrounds (funding provided by: National Science Foundation).

· $693,000 to study the effects of pollution on coral reefs in the U.S. Virgin Islands (funding provided by: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation).

· $472,000 to study the conditions under which student veterans pursue engineering education, and the factors that offer them the greatest support for success (funding provided by the National Science Foundation).

The first inaugural Research Week at USD, which aligns with the 25th anniversary of the Office of Sponsored Programs, will celebrate the scholarly and creative achievements of faculty and students. Tours, talks, exhibitions and open houses will be a part of the week, along with the annual Creative Collaborations event where more than 200 students will demonstrate projects they conducted with a faculty mentor.

Projects to be presented at this year’s Creative Collaborations include a demonstration of a simple and cost-effective desalination device, a study of the realities of the wage gap between men and women, and a look at how millennials are defining adulthood.

Many of the projects are published in academic journals or presented at regional or national conferences. They reflect the university’s mission to promote research as a hallmark of the USD undergraduate educational experience. “Students learn better when they hear it, see it and do it,” said Sonia Zarate, Director of the university’s Office of Undergraduate Research. “Research is the do.”

Highlights of Research Week at USD include:

Kick-Off Luncheon featuring Trustee Darlene Marcos Shiley, Provost Andrew Allen and seven academic deans and a lively discussion about how research and philanthropic funding enhance faculty research and the student experience (Invitation only)

Lab tours in the Shiley Center for Science and Technology (Tuesday, April 14 from noon- to 2 p.m. in SCST rooms: 152, 289, 425, 452, 456, 474)

Sustainability Capstone Presentation from Philosophy, Environmental & Ocean Studies and Sociology on Issues of Food, Water, Energy, Waste and Transportation Issues at USD (Tuesday, April 14 at 5 p.m. in the Mother Rosalie Hill Hall, Warren Auditorium)

School of Business Administration talks (Monday, April 13 from 10:30-11:45 a.m. in Olin Hall room 342; Tuesday, April 14 from 11 a.m. to noon in Olin Hall room 208 and from 1-2 p.m. in Olin Hall room 323; Wednesday, April 15 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. room 342, from 2-3 p.m. in Olin Hall room 342, from 3-4 p.m. in Olin Hall room 338, and from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in Olin Hall room 108)

25th Annual Creative Collaborations Undergraduate Research Conference (Thursday, April 16 from noon to 2:15 p.m. in the Hahn University Center Forums)

Digital@USD Presentation, an introduction to USD’s new institutional electronic repository (Friday, April 17 from 1-2 p.m. in the Copley Library)

For more information and to view a full schedule of the week’s events, please go to