PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — As part of its Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research program, the U.S. Department of Defense has awarded grants to two projects led by Brown University researchers.
Brown faculty members Jia Li and Mauro Rodriguez will serve as principal investigators for the respective projects studying electrons in 2D materials and theoretical modeling on soft materials that may one day be used to better predict the response of the human body to blunt impact.
The grants will provide approximately $600,000 in total for each project over the course of the next three years.
The support comes as part of a Department of Defense effort to bolster science and engineering research in areas important to U.S. defense through a research competition known as DEPSCoR. Established in 1994, the program is designed to strengthen basic research infrastructure at higher education institutions in states or territories that have traditionally been underutilized. This year, the agency awarded $18 million in DEPSCoR awards to 28 academic teams from 15 states. The 28 projects, including the two based at Brown, were selected from 115 white papers that qualified for the competition.
“The idea behind DEPSCoR is for the Department of Defense to cultivate and tap into an ecosystem of researchers found in states eligible for DEPSCoR,” said Jill Pipher, Brown’s vice president for research and a professor of mathematics. “Brown researchers have a lot to offer the DOD and the nation when it comes to basic research, including where learnings from the work can be applicable and critical to national security. We are grateful to the Department of Defense and especially to U.S. Senator Jack Reed for his continued leadership and support of DEPSCoR.”
Reed has represented Rhode Island in the U.S. Senate since 1996 and is chairman of the Armed Services Committee and a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. The subcommittee secured $20 million for DEPSCoR in 2023’s Consolidated Appropriations Act, ensuring that universities in DEPSCoR states like Rhode Island can compete to perform cutting-edge basic research and partner with defense labs.
“I’m pleased DOD recognizes the breakthrough potential these projects have and is investing in not only Brown University, but the state’s research ecosystem,” Reed said. “DEPSCoR is a capacity builder that can help create new commercialization and development opportunities right here in Rhode Island.”