UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

Research at UCSB

Research is one of the University of California’s three fundamental missions, along with teaching and public service. Researchers at UC Santa Barbara investigate the physical world humans inhabit and the social and cultural systems we construct, in search of new knowledge and deeper understanding. Research occurs across the campus in all disciplines and at all levels. The cutting-edge research conducted by campus researchers informs classroom teaching and provides an experience unique to a large, public research university like UCSB. Undergraduate and graduate students also engage directly in research activities with postdoctoral scholars and faculty giving them an opportunity to apply their learning and create new knowledge.

Much of the research performed at UCSB is made possible by grants and contracts from external sources, such as the federal government, state agencies, private foundations, or industry. This funding bolsters the campus research activity by creating jobs, providing resources, and awarding time and money for intensive research pursuits and travel.  Many awards also support public outreach, student education, and arts and culture activities.The total funding awarded to sponsored projects at UCSB in 2011-12, from July 1 to June 30, was $217 million. About 66% of total extramural funding comes from the federal government, including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, and other agencies.

The Office of Research

The Office of Research, under the direction of the Vice Chancellor for Research, oversees and supports the research enterprise on campus. We do this by:

  • Assisting faculty and other researchers throughout the extramural funding process, from proposal development to application submission to award administration
  • Managing intellectual property through patents, copyrights, and material transfer agreements
  • Ensuring the integrity of all research on campus by implementing and enforcing policies and regulations
  • Encouraging interdisciplinary research initiatives through the administration of Organized Research Units and the UC Natural Reserve sites at UCSB
  • Promoting and publicizing the quality, breadth, and significance of campus research activity by compiling annual contract and grant statistics, reporting research awards, and featuring representative faculty projects in the online Profiles in Research magazine at www.research.ucsb.edu/profiles

For more information about the Office of Research, please visit our website at www.research.ucsb.edu.

Research Centers and Units

UC Santa Barbara is home to over 100 interdisciplinary research centers, groups, institutes, and laboratories. Of these, 11 are national research centers funded by federal funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy. For a full list of the research centers on campus, visit http://www.research.ucsb.edu/about/research-centers-and-units/.

Graduate Research

The intellectual environment at UC Santa Barbara depends on the especially close connection between academic research and graduate studies. Research under faculty mentorship is a central part of Ph.D. training, and graduate students are critical to academic research programs. Outstanding graduate students enable great research, and a reputation for superb research attracts the best graduate students. Faculty investigators are awarded research funds by extramural agencies, and part of this funding supports the salaries and fees of a large number of UCSB graduate students. Graduate students can visit http://www.research.ucsb.edu/students/graduate-students/ for information about writing grants, submitting proposals, finding funding, and complying with human subjects, animal subjects, and other campus policies.

Undergraduate Research

While at UC Santa Barbara, students have many opportunities to participate in the vibrant research community by engaging with world-class faculty in labs, studios, and field locations across the globe. Professors in nearly every department and more than 80 interdisciplinary research units encourage undergraduates to join their research teams. Many students work as research assistants on existing projects for course credit or pay, while others conduct their own independent research under the guidance of a mentor, often as a major thesis or capstone project. Various units on campus also offer formal research programs during the academic year and the summer that provide mentoring, activities, and other services in conjunction with research opportunities.

Detailed information about getting involved with undergraduate research appears on the campus-wide undergraduate research website at www.research.ucsb.edu/undergrad. The site offers tips on getting started, how to find faculty mentors, information about on-campus programs, profiles of student researchers, links to find off-campus opportunities, and contact information for people on campus who can help.