Jul 16, 2024  
2018-2019 Catalog 
2018-2019 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Research at UC Merced

Research is the pioneering work of the intellect, an adventure at the frontiers of knowledge in which faculty engage both their undergraduate and graduate students. It reflects mankind’s indomitable spirit of optimism that we can and must do better. Every human pursuit benefits from the ongoing process of evaluation and discovery. As the tenth campus of the University of California, UC Merced joins in the University’s unparalleled history of research accomplishments. That history also sets the high standards that UC Merced must live up to.

As an undergraduate student at UC Merced, you will find faculty research enriching your education and your ability to analyze and critique information objectively. Exposure to research will help you to begin to define solutions to the weighty problems with which humankind will wrestle during your lifetime. Your courses will be continually enriched and invigorated by faculty discoveries, which reflect an ever-evolving curriculum. You will also have formal opportunities to participate in ongoing faculty projects, joining graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in labs, field work and other research settings. These opportunities will extend your classroom experiences and highlight the process of discovery that is critical to each discipline. You will not only learn the knowledge created in the past by others, but you will have the very real opportunity to create new knowledge that other students will learn in the future.

As a graduate student you will plumb the depths of some of the world’s most challenging problems through your research and scholarly work. Graduate students work with faculty as apprentice scholars, building the skills needed to create and communicate discoveries in their field. The distinguishing feature of many of UC Merced’s graduate programs is their interdisciplinary nature, which provides a breadth of knowledge that helps put studies into a wider context. You will join a community of scholars and set your course for a career. Part of your research experience will include working closely with your faculty mentor and advisory committee as you build professional expertise and prepare for the future. To foster discovery that brings faculty insights from many disciplines together, UC Merced is structuring many of its research and graduate educational activities around research institutes composed of faculty from multiple schools. For further information about research at UC Merced, see research.ucmerced.edu.

Interdisciplinary Research Institutes And Programs

Center for Research in the Humanities and Arts

The Center for Research in the Humanities & Arts (CRHA), established in 2008, is designed around interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge. The Center seeks to recreate the Renaissance integration of multiple approaches to knowledge, encompassing the humanities, arts and qualitative social sciences. Theses areas of academic study share a concern with the ways in which human beings conceive, express, and enact their situations in and relations to societies, both local and, increasingly, global.

The Center for Research in the Humanities & Arts provides spaces for discussion, conversation, and the extended pursuit of ideas. The shared concerns of various disciplines can be explored in ways that enrich research. By providing a context to challenge the self-validating paradigms of individual disciplines, the Center supports the divergent thinking that is the source of creative scholarship. In addition, we seek to make the significance of the enduring questions addressed by the humanities and arts more visible for both the campus and the community.

The Center is part of the University of California Humanities Network, which incorporates the UC Society of Fellows in the Humanities, the University of California Humanities Research Institute, and the UC Consortium of Humanities Centers.


The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) creates information technology solutions for many of our most pressing social, environmental, and health care problems.  CITRIS was created “to shorten the pipeline” between world-class laboratory research and the creation of start-ups, large companies, and whole industries. CITRIS facilitates partnerships and collaborations among more than 300 faculty members and thousands of students from numerous departments at four University of California campuses (Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz) with industrial researchers from over 60 corporations. Together, the groups are thinking about information technology in ways its never been thought of before. UC Merced’s node of CITRIS engages faculty and students in a number of research efforts that occur at Merced alone as well as with the partner campuses in CITRIS.  CITRIS investigators at UC Merced work in the areas of Energy, Democracy, Infrastructure and Health.  CITRIS is also the home of UC Merced’s Mobile App Challenge.

Health Sciences Research Institute

Website: hsri.ucmerced.edu

The mission of the Health Sciences Research Institute (HSRI) is to promote all research in the human health sciences at UCM. Research perspectives within the HSRI currently include health psychology, medical anthropology, medical sociology, cognitive science, neuroscience, molecular cell biology, biochemistry, stem cell biology, bioengineering, and computational biology, involving faculty from all three schools.

Human health issues are complex, requiring research from multiple perspectives. The HSRI promotes the organization of its member laboratories into synergistic teams, combining complementary disciplinary expertise to effectively tackle complex problems in human health. The formation of these inter- and multidisciplinary research teams is facilitated by (1) securing funds for compelling research initiatives by HSRI subgroups such as through program projects; (2) actively recruiting the best and brightest graduate students and postdocs by showcasing the resources available to them in the health sciences; (3) hosting various means for members to communicate and interact around their research, such as through an annual HSRI symposium, visiting scholar presentations, seminars, and other regularly scheduled activities that bring members together; and (4) maintaining core facilities that will support research in the health sciences. Research facilitated by HSRI sponsored activities will solidify UCM as a leader of human health research, which will allow us to continue to attract top talent at the faculty, postdoctoral, and student levels.

Sierra Nevada Research Institute

Website: snri.ucmerced.edu

The mission of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute (SNRI) is to discover and disseminate new knowledge that contributes to sustaining natural resources and promoting social well being in the San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Nevada regions of California, and related regions worldwide, through integrated research in the natural, social and engineering sciences.

The mission of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute is accomplished through:

  • Collaborative, multidisciplinary, fundamental research conducted by faculty, students, staff and affiliated scientists in natural sciences, engineering, and social sciences.
  • Strong interactions with related research units within the UC system and close collaborative relations with scientists and managers at national laboratories, and local, state and federal agencies, including the National Park Service.
  • Connecting objective, science-based data and information with public and private stakeholders.
  • The Sierra Nevada Research Institute is organized around an Environmental Systems model. A particular emphasis is on the physical and biological connections that exist between the Central Valley and Sierra ecosystems. Through these balanced research efforts, the Sierra Nevada Research Institute serves as a source of objective scientific information for public policy makers as California faces the growing challenge of sustaining the integrity and quality of its resources into the future.

Through the Sierra Nevada Research Institute our students and faculty have access to a variety of biological field stations in Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks. In May 2004, Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada Research Institute dedicated the first of these stations, located in Wawona. The Wawona station gives logistical support for academic field research and outreach activities in Yosemite National Park. In addition, the Virginia Smith Trust Reserve adjacent to the UC Merced campus provides additional sites for research.

UC Merced faculty currently affiliated with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute are working on climate change and ecosystem health, contaminant transformations in soils and aquatic systems, development of environmental sensors, hydrologic processes in the Sierra Nevada, nutrient transport in agricultural and natural systems, water and air quality in the Valley basin and Sierra Nevada Range, and computational ecology and biodiversity.

Spatial Analysis Research Center

Website: sparc.ucmerced.edu

The goal of the Spatial Analysis Research Center (SpARC) Centralized Research Center is to add value and capabilities to UC Merced’s existing and planned research, teaching, administrative, and community outreach efforts in the area of spatial analysis and spatial science. Many UC Merced faculty are engaged in spatial sciences including historians and archaeologists, social and cognitive scientists, engineers, computer scientists, environmental scientists, and biologists. SpARC’s mission extends across all three academic Schools and has connections with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, the Great Valley Center, Yosemite National Park, the Center for the Study of Health Disparities, and the Division of Administration. SpARC aims to foster new intellectual collaboration, stimulate new sources of funding, further innovative and original research, supply research techniques and services to faculty groups, perform services and outreach to the public and support student learning.

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC) was established in spring 2014, with a mission to encourage and facilitate faculty-mentored undergraduate research projects and creative activities across all academic disciplines. Regardless of major or future career choice, involvement in such activities provide skills in understanding and applying research methods or creative principles and enhance students’ abilities in critical analysis, problem solving, and communication.
UROC offers a wide variety of services to prepare students to engage in research, including paid research training and graduate preparation, access to research opportunities/listings through the UROC Research Portal, STEM diversity and leadership seminars, and an annual summer undergraduate research symposium. Our UROC Scholars community of high achieving students provides academic mentorship, leadership and professional training and opportunities for students to travel across the nation and present their research. For more information please visit uroc.ucmerced.edu.

University of California Advanced Solar Technologies Institute

Website: ucsolar.org

The University of California Advanced Solar Technologies Institute (UC Solar) is a multi-campus, multidisciplinary research institute made up of faculty from the University of California’s Merced, Berkeley, and Santa Barbara campuses. Headquartered at UC Merced, UC Solar creates technologies that make solar energy systems more efficient, more affordable, and the best choice for the people of California and the world. In addition, UC Solar educates and develops tomorrow’s solar energy leaders and entrepreneurs.

Initial UC Solar research areas include advancing the state-of-the-art in solar concentration (for photovoltaic and thermal systems), employing nanotechnology in both collector/concentrator and device structures, and developing new devices that capture usable energy in the UV portion of the solar spectrum.

Through collaboration with industry and other stakeholders, UC Solar researchers are challenged to create solar technologies that can be brought to the marketplace quickly. UC Solar researchers partner with industry participants through the UC Solar Industry Consortium, which attracts companies that design, produce, implement, manage and invest in solar technologies.