Apparently, University of California, San Diego has a big mouse problem.

Not in its dorms (although it may have them there, too), but in its labs. The mice used for research make a big mess, and currently their cages and equipment are cleaned in 17 separate buildings on the campus.

The school received over $14.2 million in stimulus funding to construct one 12,000-square-foot building where the cages can be cleaned. This cleaning consolidation will free up lab space and save 8.5 million gallons of water, 24.2 million pounds of steam and 560,000 kilowatts of electricity, according to the school’s grant proposal.

This project’s funding is one part of the $160 million UCSD received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act last year, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The UT’s story doesn’t dive much into the projects that are being funded with stimulus dollars, so here is a sampling of some other interesting ones:

• The Scripps Institution of Oceanography, part of UCSD, got more than $105.9 million in stimulus funding to build a network of underwater ocean observatories called the Ocean Observatories Initiative.

SIO professor Uwe Send will oversee the construction of four observatories, two each in the Atlantic and Pacific. These observatories will deploy robots that will swim through the deep ocean or crawl along its floor to measure currents, monitor zooplankton and fish populations and track algal blooms.

Although the project is not yet halfway done, UCSD reports that it has already created 74.29 jobs in management, engineering and system development.

• Another SIO professor, Neal Driscoll, received $903,928 to study the fault lines that run through the Salton Sea. He’s installing instruments used to measure earthquakes on the bottom of the sea. He hopes the grant will help him better understand when and why earthquakes hit Southern California.

• Seana Coulson, a UCSD scientist who studies language, got $300,000 to study how gestures are used in communication. Coulson will measure volunteers’ brain activity while they watch videos of people talking about the size and shape of objects to see whether they respond more when gestures are used.

The project could be used to cater to people with different learning styles. It has created 2.07 jobs for a postdoc researcher, a lab assistant and an undergraduate researcher.

• Jan Kleissl, a UCSD environmental engineer, wants to know more specifically the exact impact “green” building materials like artificial turf and reflective roof coatings have on the environment.

He received $407,448 in stimulus funds to study “urban meteorology,” or the give-and-take between a city and its environment. He’s going to make models that show the heat exchange between a city’s trees and its atmosphere and find ways to plan buildings and neighborhoods that conserve energy and water.


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