Research projects

OASIS Initiative provides $1.7 million for UCR research projects

UCR’s Office of Research and Economic Development (RED) announced competitive funding of more than $1.7 million for faculty research projects as part of its Opportunity to Advance Sustainability Innovation and Social Inclusion, known as OASIS. Projects range from examining the severity of COVID-19 infection in Riverside County to agricultural sustainability and resilience; finding ways to extract the lithium needed for electric car batteries from the brine beneath the Salton Sea.

These seed grants allow UCR faculty to initiate, continue, or expand research, scholarly, and creative pursuits in areas under the OASIS umbrella, and increase their competitiveness for funding. outside. RED will launch the second round of competitive internal funding in the coming months. Many proposals were received from professors during the initial solicitation. Here are brief summaries of the winning projects:

$200,000 awards:

Severity of COVID-19 in the Hispanic/Latinx communitys

Meera Nair (biomedical sciences), Erica Heinrich (biomedical sciences), Richard Carpiano (public policy), Susan Hackwood (electrical and computer engineering) will investigate acute COVID-19 infections and long COVID in Hispanic/Latino communities in Riverside County. The project will recruit participants with active COVID infections to determine if COVID disease is more severe in their communities. The study will also measure whether participants who have recovered from COVID will experience long-term effects on their lung and immune health and determine whether they are at higher risk and severity of these long-term effects. The study will also collect feedback from participants, community leaders, and decision-makers through ongoing dialogues, conferences, and workshops.

Use of warehouse space for charging stations

Matthew Bart (research and higher education and electrical and computer engineering), Kanok Boriboonsomsin (CE-CERT), Marissa Brooke (political science), Juliann EmmonsAllison (gender and sexuality studies), and Catherine Goudis (historic) will examine the conversion of underutilized warehouse space into public charging stations to accelerate the replacement of polluting diesel trucks with electric trucks. Truckers could save time loading their trucks when picking up or delivering loads, while warehouse owners would benefit from a new source of income. The project comes as the Inland Empire has quickly become one of the largest logistics hubs in the country, with more than a billion square feet of warehouse space that attracts numerous diesel trucks that emit toxic soot .

Photochemical treatment of recycled water for agriculture

Haizhou Liu (chemical and environmental sciences) and Amir Haghverdi (agricultural and urban water management) will test a new photochemical treatment of recycled water needed to irrigate urban farms. This project aims to improve the sustainability of agriculture and the health of agro-urban ecosystems by treating wastewater with deep ultraviolet light so that it can be used to safely irrigate crops. The project will conduct field trials to assess downstream risks. This technology could have a significant impact on natural resource management, sustainability, innovation, social inclusion, education and workforce development.

Identification of the stages of recovery and manufacture of lithium by the Salton Sea

Arun Raju (CE-CERT), Juchen Guo (chemical and environmental engineering), Alfredo Martinez Morales (CE-CERT), Wilfred Elders (earth and planetary sciences), Vincent Lavallo (chemistry), Timothy Lyon (earth and planetary sciences), Michael McKibben (earth and planetary sciences), and Kurt Schwabe (public policy) will identify the steps needed to develop an environmentally friendly manufacturing center that takes advantage of renewable electricity and lithium resources in the Salton Sea geothermal field. The field contains the world’s largest known undeveloped brine reserve of lithium needed for electric car batteries. The hub would have research and manufacturing facilities for lithium recovery and refining, battery technologies, geothermal energy, community heating and cooling services, and hydrogen production. It would have broader economic development and workforce training and education components. Lithium is an essential component of electric car batteries. The World Bank estimates that global lithium production will need to increase by 500% by 2050 to meet demands from the clean energy and transportation sectors.

Evaluate precision farming techniques to build long-term sustainability

Elia Scudiero (environmental sciences) and Konstantinos Karydis (electrical and computer engineering) to study research and workforce development in Southern California in precision agriculture that can build the long-term sustainability and resilience of agriculture in the region despite the increasing scarcity of water, land and other natural resources. Throughout the project, new software will analyze real-time data from orchards, test wearable sensors to map soil moisture, and collect high-resolution imagery to track environmental factors that influence crop yields. Sensor data will provide real-time diagnostics of potential problems in the field to enable preventative solutions. The project will also provide undergraduate students with mentoring and training in agricultural technologies and entrepreneurship.

Fostering innovation and minority entrepreneurship in the Inland Empire

Qing Fang Wang (public policy) and Elaine Wong (management) will examine the role of higher education institutions in fostering entrepreneurship and innovation in the Inland Empire and the role that universities play in addressing disparities and inequalities between ethnic groups and of gender. The project aims to show how inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems could unleash the power of minority entrepreneurship and challenge current regimes of urban systems. Data will be collected from DUC entrepreneurship education programs and community stakeholders through surveys, interviews and focus groups. A case study will be conducted examining the RCU’s ‘Building an Entrepreneurial Talent Pool’ project.

$25,000 awards:


• A portable nucleic acid extraction and collection device for the diagnosis of citrus diseases: Hideaki Tsutsui (mechanical engineering) and Sohrab Bodaghi (microbiology and plant pathology)
• Proof of concept development of a Soft Continuum robot for harvesting inside the tree canopy: Jun Sheng (mechanical Engineering)
• Identification of genotype-environment associations in wild sunflowers of the Inland Empire: Kate Ostevik (evolution, ecology and biology of organisms)


• Spanish for Health Professions: A Community Tutoring Program: Lamar Prieto (Hispanic Studies) Alvaro Gonzalez Alva (Hispanic Studies) and Martina Visconti (Hispanic Studies)
• Longitudinal causal decomposition analysis: identification of robust factors contributing to health disparities: Soojin Park (educational psychology) and Chioun Lee (sociology)
• Relationship between opioid overdose deaths and licensed cannabis dispensary density in California’s Coachella Valley: Christopher Fishtner (psychiatry and neurosciences), Jennifer Syvertsen (anthropology), Mark Wolfson (social medicine, population and public health), Kendrick Davis (psychiatry and neurosciences), and Howard Moss (psychiatry and neurosciences)


• Beyond parental rejection: How does support from non-parental parents affect housing stability and security for LGBTQ youth? : brandon robinson (gender and sexuality studies)
• Sound OASIS: An Inclusive Future for Music Technology: Liz Przybylsky (music)
• OASIS Science to Policy Fellowships for the Inland Empire: Susan Hackwood (electrical and computer engineering) and Shaun Bowler (Graduate Diploma)


• Heated Experiments: Building Climate Resilience in the Southern California Interior: Chikako Takeshita (gender and sexuality studies)
• Development of Advanced PFAS Degradation Technology: Filling the Last Gap of Practical Application and Technology Commercialization: Jinyong Liu (Chemical and Environmental Engineering)
• Improving agricultural water use efficiency by partitioning evapotranspiration using in situ and modeling approaches: Hoori Ajami (environmental sciences) and Ray Anderson (environmental science)
• Ultra-sensitive radiocarbon detection for atmospheric monitoring of fossil emissions and biomedical applications: Jingsong Zhang (chemistry)
• Identification of defluorinating biocatalysts for the cost-effective treatment of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances: Men Yujie (chemical and environmental engineering)


• Monocrystalline growth of solid electrolytes for solid-state lithium-ion batteries: Xi Chen (electrical and computer engineering)
• Mitigation of wildfires through intelligent and automated monitoring of incipient failures in electrical system devices: Hamed Mohsenian-Rad (electrical and computer engineering)
• How can the biological inspiration of red wine make inverted dye solar cells work well? : Valentine Vullev (bioengineering) and Gregory Beran (chemistry)


• New statistical models to handle anomalous and heterogeneous data in smart cities and renewable energy applications: Weixin Yao (statistics)
• Sustainable AI for the Wireless Internet of Things: Basak Guler (electrical and computer engineering)
• Strategic planning for the electrification of heavy drayage trucks: Ran Wei (public policy)