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The state gave the USTAR (Utah Science, Technology and Research) program $20.2 million last year to invest in interdisciplinary research that could lead to commercial products at USU and the University of Utah. After just 30 months, USTAR is ahead of its projections for return on investment, with millions in new research grants pouring into Utah and 21 new top-notch faculty in place, officials say.
But proposed budget cuts threaten to reverse that progress by undermining the schools’ ability to attract top researchers and keep recent hires, they told a legislative appropriations panel last week. One possible casualty is USU’s algae specialist, who turned down the Logan school’s offer after the state announced USTAR budget cuts, according to Ned Weinshenker, USU’s vice president for strategic ventures and economic development. All told, USTAR could see its state appropriation slashed by 15 percent for the current fiscal year, with another 44 percent for 2010 under a worst-case scenario.
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