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Record research dollars for Nevada

Research projects at Nevada are attracting external funding at a record-setting pace. In the fiscal year that ended in June, so-called "sponsored projects," a term that describes funds acquired from private and governmental organizations for research, instruction, student services and other projects, surpassed $110 million. Last year, the university passed the $100 million milestone for the first time. Research projects make up more than half of the $110 million total and jumped $9 million in the past year.

"The reputation of this university and our talented researchers continues to grow in the eyes of government and business," President John Lilley says. "Research at the University of Nevada is a key driver of economic development in our region, and strengthening our research infrastructure is central to our land-grant mission to serve the state."

Just three years ago, sponsored projects generated $80 million for the university. Linda Brinkley, vice president for research, says the dramatic increase in funding is, in part, "success breeding success."

"This is occurring in two ways," Brinkley says. "Our faculty are increasingly successful in winning highly competitive grant awards and the university is now also attracting top-notch research faculty, some of whom bring important research projects with them when they come to Nevada.

"An important added benefit is that our faculty is creating a stimulating teaching environment and is acquiring state-of-the-art equipment for classrooms and laboratories. Strong research programs also help attract outstanding undergraduate and graduate students."

— John Wheeler

Shearing is believing

Raquel Kutsch, hydrology graduate student in the Department of Environmental and Resource Science, has followed the same regimen since April. Kutsch has used desk shears to trim the blades on 2.5-foot by 7-foot grass plots in the campus greenhouses. Before the painstaking grooming, the grass is stomped by a mechanical hoof designed by Wade Cline, development technician in the Department of Physics. Why all of the stomping and shearing? Kutsch is studying the optimum grass height for horse owners whose horses graze on small plots of land. "Many small ranches have horses on limited acreage," Kutsch explains. "We want to see what level of grazing can be sustained." Kutsch's study is the first of its kind for small pastures, and will help small-plot owners throughout the West better understand soil erosion and water runoff questions.

— Bob Conrad

From conservation biology to hardcourt photography

Richard Tracy has written dozens of papers and books on his daytime job: namely one of the country's leading conservation biologists. Tracy, in fact, is one of the leaders of the country's largest habitat conservation plan, located in Clark County. On Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons for the past several winters, though, Tracy has effortlessly slipped into another role: that of unofficial Wolf Pack women's basketball photographer. Tracy, who attends all of the Wolf Pack's home games, compiled a book of his finest images and presented copies to last year's three seniors — Katie Golomb, Sarah Estrada and Crystal Williams. "It was the least I could do for these young women," Tracy says. "They work so hard to achieve at a high level and they receive so little attention for what they do." One thing in particular about the compilation pleases Tracy. "I've included photos of every teammate that each senior on last year's team has ever had at the university," he says. "It took some doing, but I thought that was an important thing for the seniors to remember."

— John Trent


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