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The Department of Defense will issue 24 awards totaling $169 million to academic institutions to perform multidisciplinary basic research, a six million dollar increase above last year’s total. The awards are for up to a five year period, subject to satisfactory research progress and the availability of funds.
“The Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative program, or MURI, supports research by funding teams of investigators that include more than one traditional science and engineering discipline in order to accelerate the research progress,” said Dale Ormond, Principal Director for Research, in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. According to Ormond, most of the program’s efforts involve researchers from multiple academic institutions and academic departments. “MURI awards also support the education and training of graduate students in cutting-edge research areas, Ormond stated.
The highly competitive MURI program complements other DoD basic research initiatives that support traditional, three year, single-investigator university research grants. By supporting multidisciplinary teams with larger, longer awards in carefully chosen and relevant research topics, DoD and the Services enhance the potential for significant and sustained advancement of research in critical areas of importance to National Security and the DoD’s mission.
The Army Research Office, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Office of Naval Research solicited proposals in 24 topic areas important to the DoD and the Services. In response to the initial solicitation the department received 436 white papers. After two rounds of merit-based reviews, a panel of DoD scientists and experts narrowed the proposals to 100 from which the 24 final awards were selected. Based on the proposals selected in the competition, 64 U.S. academic institutions are expected to participate in the 2018 MURI program. In addition, this year, for the first time, Australia has funded research teams to work together with two U.S. MURI teams. This cooperation is in line with the Secretary of Defense’s direction to strengthen our alliances, and collaborate whenever and wherever possible.
Over the past 30 years, DoD’s MURI program resulted in significant capabilities for our military forces and opened up entirely new lines of research. Notable examples include foundations in the fabrication of nanoscale and microscale structures by the processes of self-assembled materials (SAM) and microcontact printing, the integration of vision algorithms with sensors to create low-power, low-latency, compact adaptive vision systems, and advances in fully optical data control and switching. These and other important technological advances from the MURI program have impact on current and future military capabilities.
The list of awards is available here.