The University of Arizona

Small Grants Make a Big Impact

By Rebecca Ruiz McGill, University Communications | August 7, 2012
Joel Cuello, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, has begun work on a grant to convert Antarctic algae into a biofuel or jet fuel with a lower-than-normal temperature freezing point.
Joel Cuello, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, has begun work on a grant to convert Antarctic algae into a biofuel or jet fuel with a lower-than-normal temperature freezing point.

The small grants, valued between $1,000 and $3,000, look to foster teaching and research collaboration between the UA and institutions throughout Latin America.

Harnessing the Antarctic’s microbiology for the production of low-temperature tolerant biofuels is just one of the research areas the University of Arizona Office Of Western Hemispheric Programs, together with the Center for Latin American Studies, is looking to impact with small grants for collaboration in Latin America. 

The two UA programs and the Office of the Vice President for Regional Development, Outreach & Global Initiatives at the UA have awarded their Small-Grants for Academic Collaboration in the Americas for 2012. This is the second year the small grants have been awarded.

The grants, valued between $1,000 and $3,000, look to foster teaching and research collaboration between the UA and institutions throughout Latin America.

For 2012, 12 grantees were selected from a pool of 20 outstanding applications. Faculty from such diverse departments as education technology, cellular and molecular medicine and sociology received awards.

Some of these funds will be used to bring researchers from Latin America to the UA in order to strengthen existing collaboration. Others will allow UA faculty members to travel to institutions in Latin America to do the same.

“The small grant has been a tremendous help,” said Joel Cuello, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering in the UA colleges of agriculture and life sciences and engineering.  

Cuello received a grant to travel to Chile and move forward on a Memo of Understanding recently established between the Universidad de Magallanes in Punta Arenas, Chile and the UA. Cuello is working on a grant with the Universidad de Magallanes to convert Antarctic algae into a biofuel or jet fuel with a lower-than-normal temperature freezing point to help power a Chilean scientific base in the Antarctic. The grant includes a collaborative effort between the U.S. Air Force and its Office of Scientific Research in Santiago, Chile and the Chilean Air Force.

“We definitely intend for this collaboration to be long-term and on-going and for it to foster student and faculty exchanges,” Cuello said.    

Colin Deeds, the Center for Latin American Studies assistant director, said, “This seed funding gives faculty the bit of leverage they may need to develop lasting and fruitful collaborations. We are glad to offer this opportunity to an excellent group of grantees and eager to see the outcomes.”

Anna Ochoa O’Leary, assistant professor of practice in Mexican American studies and co-director of the Binational Migration Institute, will use her grant to bring scholars from the Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa to the UA with the goal of developing a dual degree program that links graduate degrees at the UA and UAS.

Associate professor of piano John Milbauer received a grant for travel to several institutions in Colombia and Brazil to develop partnerships with faculties of South America’s major conservatories and exchange perspectives on technique and pedagogy.