The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced $169 million in its long-running multidisciplinary university research initiative (MURI) awards to 24 research teams pursuing basic research spanning multiple scientific disciplines.
Since its inception in 1985, the tri-service MURI program has successfully convened teams of investigators to combine insights from multiple disciplines to both facilitate the growth of newly emerging technologies and address the Department’s unique problem sets.
“The challenges we face today are highly complex in nature and do not fall in line with a single discipline,” said Dr. Mitch Nikolich, director of Defense Research and Engineering for Research and Technology. “MURIs acknowledge these complexities by supporting teams whose members have diverse sets of expertise as well as creative and different approaches to tackling problems. It’s a program that remains a cornerstone of the DOD’s legacy of scientific impact.”
The highly competitive MURI complements the department’s single-investigator basic research grants and has made immense contributions to both defense and society at large. For example, a 1987 MURI team provided the first demonstration of self-assembled materials and micro-contact printing. These demonstrations provided a vital foundational framework in nanosciences that had transformative effects on fields including microfluidics, novel sensors, diagnostics and electronics. Additional notable MURI results include nanostructured materials to achieve new materials properties for phototronics applications, advances in computer vision systems and new pathways optoelectronics with micro-optics and micromechanical subsystems.
For the fiscal 2019 competition, the Army Research Office, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Office of Naval Research solicited proposals in 24 areas important to DOD and the military services. From a merit-based review of the 295 proposals received, a panel of experts narrowed the proposals to a subset from which the 24 final awards were selected. Awards of about $1.5 million per year for three to five years will be provided to these teams located across 73 U.S. academic institutions, subject to satisfactory research progress and the availability of funds.