The Department of Defense announced today 34 awards to academic institutions to perform multi-disciplinary basic research. The total amount of the awards is expected to be $19.7 million in fiscal 2008 and $200 million over five years. Awards are subject to the successful completion of negotiations between the academic institutions and DoD research offices that will make the awards: the Army Research Office (ARO), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).
The awards are the result of the fiscal year 2008 competition that ARO, ONR, and AFOSR conducted under the DoD Multi-disciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program. The MURI program supports multi-disciplinary basic research in areas of DoD relevance that intersect more than one traditional science and engineering discipline. Therefore, a MURI effort typically involves a team of basic researchers with expertise in a variety of disciplines. For a research area suited to a multi-disciplinary approach, bringing together scientists and engineers with different disciplinary backgrounds can accelerate both basic research progress and transition of research results to application.
To assemble a team with the requisite disciplinary strengths, most MURI efforts involve researchers from multiple academic institutions, as well as multiple academic departments. Based on the proposals selected in the fiscal 2008 competition, a total of 64 academic institutions are expected to participate in the 34 research efforts. Three non-U.S. academic institutions will participate in two of the MURI efforts, but will receive no funding from the MURI program.
The MURI program complements other DoD basic research programs that support traditional, single-investigator university research by supporting multi-disciplinary teams with awards larger and longer in duration than traditional awards. The awards announced today are for a three-year base period with a two-year option contingent upon availability of appropriations and satisfactory research progress. Consequently, MURI awards can provide greater sustained support than single-investigator awards for the education and training of students pursuing advanced degrees in science and engineering fields critical to DoD, as well as for associated infrastructure such as research instrumentation.
The MURI program is highly competitive. ARO, ONR, and AFOSR solicited proposals in 18 topics important to DoD and received a total of 104 proposals. The 34 proposals announced today were selected for funding based on merit review by panels of experts in the pertinent science and engineering fields.