Areas of focus

Areas of Focus

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SoCal OASIS™ Areas of Focus

 

The following are the initial vertical sectors of emphasis for OASIS research, innovation, and workforce development activities:
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Agriculture Technology and Food Security 

Innovation in agriculture technology is key to food security. Researchers and entrepreneurs are working to interrupt threats to crop production and compliance with farming health standards. Scientific discovery related to gene-editing, fertilizer efficiency, and automated pharmaceutical administration is taking place regionally. To reduce socioeconomic barriers, advancement of controlled environment agriculture, automation, data science, geospatial imaging, climate research, and food supply innovation, is essential.

Research

UCR has a long history of citrus research - dating back to its inception as the Citrus Experiment Station – the university is now a global leader in sustainable agriculture. UCR manages over 1,000 acres in agriculture which allows for extensive investigation. The California Agriculture and Food Enterprise (CAFÉ) is an initiative that leverages UCR’s resources to identify solutions to achieve more equitable food systems across the world. A recent project uses new gene-editing technology to eradicate a deadly threat to vineyards, replacing increasingly less effective chemical insecticides.

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Innovation

FarmSense is an agriculture startup co-founded by UCR professor Eamonn Keogh and alumnus, Shailendra Singh, who earned his doctoral degree in 2015. Optical sensor technology is used to monitor insects in the fields. FarmSense’s patented algorithm captures flying insect signals and transmits this categorized data, along with environmental information, allowing early detection to reduce pesticide use and increase crop yields.

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Community Health and Health Disparity

Despite significant progress in research, practice, and policy; health disparities, especially in underserved communities, persist. Health disparities are inequitable and are directly related to the unbalanced distribution of social, economic, and environmental resources. OASIS aims to improve community health and reduce disparities and inequities by amplifying our integration of underserved communities in all aspects of the design, planning, education, and deployment of projects and solutions.

Research

David Lo, distinguished professor of biomedical sciences and senior associate dean for research, also co-directs the UCR Center for Health Disparities Research. The center takes an interdisciplinary and community-based approach to increased awareness of health disparities challenging Inland Southern California, a large and diverse region with a shortage of healthcare professionals. His research in the Salton Sea suggests that the sea plays a role in pulmonary health. Mouse studies found that soluble components in Salton Sea water promote a unique inflammation-associated response.

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Innovation

Basilard BioTech developed technology based on National Institutes of Health and UC Riverside-funded research performed in the laboratory of mechanical engineering professor Masaru Rao. Basilard’s novel approach to nanomechanical gene delivery aims to disrupt current limitations—a breakthrough that could facilitate better scalability and more cost-effective production of cell and gene therapies. Basilard was supported by UCR’s EPIC Small Business Development Center, or EPIC SBDC, and received multiple investments from the Highlander Venture Fund.

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Steel work


Human Development

UCR is a top-ranked university for social mobility. The campus generates more than 20,000 jobs and $2.3B in economic output in the Inland Empire alone. OASIS will develop an ecosystem of partnerships and leverage the university’s industry, government, and community connections to create more high-tech jobs and access for underserved populations. The region is expanding opportunities and improving social inclusion by supporting individuals to feel connected and valued in society. 

Research

UCR's Culture and Child Development Lab employs diverse methods to examine questions about children's academic and emotional adjustment from early childhood to emerging adulthood. A current grant funds research on how best to engage underrepresented students in STEM activities. The research team will also look to identify how industry motivates these students to become interested in STEM careers.

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Innovation

The Irvine Foundation awarded UCR with a $1.8 million grant to launch the OASIS Accelerator to expand opportunities for Inland Empire innovators and entrepreneurs, particularly those from underrepresented groups, to create sustainability and climate technology-based startups with high societal impact. The program addresses systemic challenges that technology-driven entrepreneurship faces in the region. The accelerator will provide emerging businesses with access to technical and business experts, talent, and capital. 

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Natural Resource Management

Our commitment to managing our natural resources and putting them to their best use will affect the current and future quality of life. The number of materials used in production and consumption continues to rise, causing natural resource insecurity. New approaches are essential to improve air quality research and monitoring, water management, and water purification; while addressing wildfire effects, climate mitigation, and land desertification.

Research

R'Water is a UC Riverside collaborative initiative to improve research, education, and water management policies in California and beyond. More than 30 faculty researchers have expertise in engineering, agriculture, natural and social sciences, public health, economics and policy, and the humanities. The mission is to conduct multidisciplinary research to develop solutions for local, regional, and global water security challenges.

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Innovation

Haizhou Liu, associate professor of chemical and environmental engineering, works to discover new and improved methods of removing impurities from drinking water and ensuring the safety of our water supply. Amid the pandemic, Liu and fellow researchers called for more testing to determine whether water treatment methods are effective in killing SARS-CoV-19 and coronaviruses in general. Their research focuses on the development of multidisciplinary and practical solutions for safe drinking water and healthy aquatic environments.

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Renewable Energy and Fuels

OASIS provides valuable resources and opportunities for start-ups developing technologies to help California meet its clean energy and environmental goals. Funding supports microgrid research, lithium extraction/refining, battery research, renewable hydrogen generation, and solar energy generation/storage. Regional entrepreneurs will help transform the Inland Empire by advancing commercial ideas that address energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, energy storage, and smart grid and energy services.

Research

The Inland Empire is a clean technology region accelerating the transition to renewable energy. CE-CERT is establishing pathways to 100% clean energy through technologies that explore methods to store, allocate, and integrate renewable resources with existing infrastructure. The Sustainable Fuels Initiative (SFI) is a research project that advances and demonstrates sustainable energy solutions, including advanced technologies for the production and use of sustainable fuels such as green hydrogen and renewable natural gas.

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Innovation

SiLi-ion Inc. is a clean energy startup co-founded by UC Riverside professor Lorenzo Mangolini. The company produces a “drop-in” additive that immediately elevates lithium-ion battery performance. The simple, cost-effective technology is based on the abundant and sustainable materials silicon and carbon and is designed to be seamlessly added during manufacturing in large volume lithium-ion battery production facilities.

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Sustainable Transportation and Infrastructure

As climate change persists, research and innovation provide solutions to reduce California’s emissions footprint. Entrepreneurs and start-ups will benefit from partnerships and collaboration with industry leaders and governmental agencies. OASIS will catalyze the tech transfer of transportation electrification and decarbonization of supply chains and create a skilled workforce to fulfill industry needs caused by rapid technological and regulatory changes.

Research

For many years, a federal ban on growing hemp, a non-psychoactive type of cannabis, halted advantageous, practical use to produce sustainable construction materials, textiles, and many other products. The 2018 Agricultural Act legalized industrial hemp. Charles Cai, Ph.D. ’15, an associate researcher and adjunct professor, developed and patented an improved pulping method that uses a naturally derived solvent, creates no toxic waste, emits no carbon dioxide, and converts nearly 100% of the hemp plant into useable components.

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Innovation

In 2020, UCR researchers found that commercial fast-charging stations subject electric car batteries to high temperatures and high resistance that can cause them to crack, leak, and lose their storage capacity. To remedy this, engineering professors, Mihri and Cengiz Ozkan developed a method for charging at lower temperatures with less risk of catastrophic damage. Recently they received a patent on the adaptive internal resistance fast-charging algorithm that could be licensed by battery and car manufacturers.

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