UC Santa Cruz research team earns NASA award

William Berry, director of the University Affiliated Research Center (UARC)

The outstanding performance of the University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) will soon be recognized with a prestigious NASA Public Service Group Achievement Award.

The UARC, a UC-NASA partnership managed by UC Santa Cruz, is a $330-million, 10-year collaboration designed to serve NASA mission needs. It is located in NASA Research Park in the heart of California's Silicon Valley.

"Winning the NASA Group Achievement Award is quite an honor, and it is due to the outstanding efforts of many people," said UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal. "Through their excellent work, the UARC team is helping to establish UCSC as a strong and vital presence in Silicon Valley."

In a letter announcing the award, NASA Ames Research Center director Pete Worden said, "This is one of the most prestigious awards a group can receive, and is presented to selected groups who have distinguished themselves by making outstanding contributions to the NASA mission."

The UARC conducts a wide range of long-term research tasks in support of the multidisciplinary mission of NASA's Ames Research Center located at Moffett Field in Mountain View. The research focuses primarily on information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology, computer science, aerospace operations, air-traffic management, and space and Earth sciences.

William Berry, UARC director, will accept the award on behalf of the UARC team at an Honor Awards ceremony to be held at NASA Ames on June 11. The award citation is "for outstanding performance in fundamental research and collaborations to support NASA missions."

"NASA Ames gives several group achievement awards to teams that work on specific projects, but this one is extraordinary in that the entire UARC team was named for our overall performance," Berry said. "It means that NASA views the partnership with UCSC embodied in the UARC as very successful and productive."

In announcing the award, NASA officials noted that the UARC management team has done an excellent job of staying within budget and working hard to leverage UC's capabilities to enhance performance under the terms of the UARC contract. The UARC has continued to receive an "Excellent" rating in the award-fee process since the beginning of the contract. Through the UARC's Aligned Research Program to support collaborative efforts of university faculty and NASA researchers, UC has been awarded over $2 million in research funding to date.

"The UARC team is part of a vanguard helping to enable a permanent UCSC presence in Silicon Valley," said Joseph Miller, vice provost of Silicon Valley Initiatives. "The team has worked very hard to lay the groundwork for a lasting and productive partnership with NASA Ames and our future major campus center in the NASA Research Park."

Recognition of UARC employees and subcontractors is nothing new. They have earned awards and citations in a wide range of research areas in recent years. For example, UARC employees received NASA's 2006 Software of the Year Award for an air-traffic management tool. At the International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems in June 2007, a UARC research scientist received the best paper award. In May 2007, two UARC researchers received the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Software Engineering Award. UARC employees were also honored for helping firefighters battle the deadly Esperanza fire in Southern California in 2006 by providing rapid delivery of real-time data from an unmanned aerial system to the fire's command center.