A Glimpse At the Depth and Breadth of UNH Research
By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
January 23, 2008
Sweet potatoes grown at Woodman Farm
It costs money to grow sweet potatoes for research.
Not a lot of money but some. First, you need to buy the slips, or starter
plants. Then there are the markers. And knives to cut into them so you can
measure the sugar. And a refractometer to do the actual measuring.
So, the $894 grant that Rebecca Grube got from the New England Vegetable
and Berry Growers Association last year made a difference.
That’s just one example—and there are scores of others—of
how the more than $116 million in research dollars that came into UNH during
fiscal year 2006-2007 were used. Some of the research projects get more attention
than others. But the importance of them all, and how they fold themselves
into the university’s reputation as a leading research facility, is
Of the total amount received, about $82 million came from U.S. government
sponsors. The U.S. Department of Commerce, through the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), accounted for nearly 52 percent of the
The Atlantic Marine Aquaculture Center benefited from that money, receiving
$1.97 million to support such ongoing projects as the automated fish feeding
buoy now located at the offshore fish farm near the Isles of Shoals. The
80-ton feeder, which holds 20 tons of food and can feed four cages of fishat
the same time, was designed at UNH.
Its remote control feature counters the problems of regular feeding created
by storms or frigid temperatures when a boat and personnel can’t access
the farm. Richard Langan, director of the center, calls the feeder a major
step forward for offshore fish farming.
Among others, ongoing research projects at the center include the evaluation
of seaweed as a replacement for fish meal in cod feed and grow-out trials of cod, halibut and haddock, where the coldwater fish are evaluated
for growth performance and survival.
"With limits on what we can produce from land-based and near-shore
marine aquaculture, farming in the open ocean is our best option to increase
our domestic seafood supply,” Langan says. “That's why grants
like this are critical if the U.S. is to realize offshore aquaculture's potential
to provide a healthy and secure domestic food source for its citizens.”
At the Crimes Against Children Research Center, a recent study found that
children who have been victims of a crime tend to be at risk of being re-victimized,
and that there isn’t enough being done to protect them.
In a two-year study of almost 1,500 children age 2 to 17 years old, more
than half suffered a second form of victimization within the year of a first
crime or physical assault committed against them.
Other research areas at the center include Internet exploitation, bullying,
Internet safety, and children’s exposure to violence. A study of teens
revealed they are more apt to become victims of online harassment if they
talk to strangers online than those who share their personal information
on sites like MySpace.com or Facebook.com.
“For a topic that gets so much publicity, crimes against children
have surprisingly little high quality research. Our research funding has
really allowed us to expand the knowledge in this field dramatically, and
produced some of the first research on topics like Internet victimization
and child abduction,” says David Finkelhor, director of the
Crimes against Children Research Center.
Two years ago, the Whittemore School of Business and Economics received
the largest grant in its history. It came from The U.S. Patent and Trademark
Office to fund the development by WSBE’s Enterprise Integration Research
Center of a virtual network, linking state-based uniform commercial code
databases with federally-based patent databases to perform intellectual property
rights due diligence.
The need for such a network was determined after a research study was done
by Enterprise Integration on copyrights, patents and trademarks rights. In
most collateral situations there are tangible assets—real estate, for
example. But intellectual property is different, says Enterprise Integration
Research Center director A.R. “Venky” Venkatachalam, a professor
of information systems and chair of the department of decision science.
The $990,000 research grant makes possible a two-year pilot program to develop
a prototype Web technology-based system for perfecting security interests
in intellectual property rights.
“Without the research grant, this would be a concept; an idea. It
would be purely an academic exercise,” Venkatachalam says. “The
whole innovation process would not have happened.”
And that could be said of all the projects. So many critical projects.
“The depth and breadth of our scholarship amazes me. UNH research
is world-class,” says Taylor Eighmy, interim vice president for research. “You
can find wonderful examples in the social sciences, humanities, performing
arts, marine sciences, environmental sciences and in space sciences. Excellence
in scholarship resides in many places around campus.”
Grube’s work with sweet potatoes is aimed at helping growers know
the best varieties of the vegetable to plant; sweet potatoes aren’t
typically partial to New Hampshire winters.
“It’s certainly possible to grow sweet potatoes here but there
isn’t a lot of research on how to best do it or what kind will grow
best in cold climates,” Grube said, adding she is also looking at how
to warm up the soil earlier and whether the measures are worth the effort.
“It was delightful to get the money,” Grube said of the grant. “Last
year, someone gave me the slips. This year, because of the grant, I could
pay for them.”
Sarah Smith with the Cooperative Extension’s forestry program would
agree that even a small research grant can make a big difference. The $17,000
she received from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation helped broaden
a chainsaw training program for loggers to include municipal and state road
crews. The training covers such topics as chainsaw safety, first aid and
Educational programs for loggers have been ongoing for 15 years but last
year was the first time the state asked to have workshops for highway crews.
“This is for the truck guys; the snow plow guys that grab a chainsaw
when they come across a tree in the road,” Smith said. “There
are hundreds of these guys scattered across the state and they all need to
know how to do their jobs safely.”
Oyster shell recycling is another ongoing research project that got money
in 2006. The program really is what it says it is: people donated oyster
shells, leaving them in recycling bins that are currently locate at Adams
Point. They are then used to help replenish the oyster shell supply needed
for hatchery-reared larvae.
Oyster shell recycling bins at Adams Point in Durham
The work is being conducted under the direction of Raymond Grizzle, a zoology
professor with UNH’s Jackson Estuarine Laboratory. He received $5,352
in 2006 from NOAA for the ongoing project.
At the Institute on Disability, the New England Genetics Collaborative is
striving to identify the resources available to populations whose children
have rare genetic conditions. An $817,613 federal grant supports the work
that New England Genetics Collaborative project manager Amy Schwartz calls “a
bridge between policy and practice.”
The project supports the infrastructure and policy that supports families,
Schwartz says. New England Genetics Collaborative is working with every state
in New England. The focus is on children from birth to 21 years of age.
“There is a disparity between resources and the population that needs
them,” Schwartz says. “We’re looking at how does a child
get the best care possible--where is that care and how does the family get
John Moeschler, principle investigator for the New England Genetics Collaborative,
adds that the goal is to do long-term follow-up on children who have been
identified with genetic disorders. To do that, there has to be a means to
measure healthcare improvements.
“Every newborn gets tested,” he says. “But the second
step—measurement—doesn’t work as well. Before this project,
children were screened, referred and resources were presented to families.
But there was no follow-up.”
Which is what makes the Health Resources and Services Administration grant
so crucial. The genetics field is changing and growing rapidly, Schwartz
says, and UNH is trying to play a part in how the science translates to policy
and systems of care.
Adds Moeschler, “The funding is essential. The work wouldn’t
For a list of fiscal year 2006-2007 research projects go to http://www.unh.edu/osr/data/fy07_data.html.