UC MERCI Rapid Grant Program

Building on the successful interactions at the UC MERCI planning workshops held at the Marconi Conference Center in July, 2016, UC MERCI announced a rapid research grant program. Proposal were solicited to further the goals of UC MERCI of encouraging interdisciplinary, intercampus research on music experience.

10 requests were received and 9 awards totaling $74,617 were made in early October, 2016, including faculty and student participants from seven UC campuses. One of the awards merged closely related proposals from teams at UCLA and UCSF. A no-cost extension lasting until March 31, 2017 was granted to all groups.

Projects spanned a diverse set of research topics examining:

1) the emotional and social benefits of community choir singing in comparison to other group activities among seniors
2) a study of human rhythmic entrainment
3) the relationship between musical discrimination abilities and speech production
4) the effects of classroom music instruction in 2nd grade public school classes
5) the neurophysiology of simple and complex musical meter perception
6) memorability of advertising jingles from the 1920s to the present
7) the effectiveness of music-evoked reminiscence in palliative care settings
8) brain responses during mental rehearsal and improvisation in jazz musicians
9) emotional responding in immersive sound fields
10) fan behavior that is predictive of financial support of artists

In most cases, the projects are still ongoing. The brief period of time at the end of 2016 was consumed in many cases by the process of obtaining Institutional Review Board approvals, procuring equipment, and refining experiment protocols. In some cases, the start of data collection had to be delayed beyond the award period. However, in all cases, the awards appear to have enabled projects that would have otherwise not happened, and in this regard served their purpose of jumpstarting research that will continue into the future.

Five of the research awards involve active collaboration across at least two UC campuses. Despite the brief period in which these awards were active, two publications were supported in part by the award and another is in preparation. A total of five conference abstracts arising from UC MERCI supported research have been presented. One internal campus award of $29,000 was made as a consequence of the Rapid Grant award. With regard to trainees, Rapid Grants provided some level of support for 1 postdoctoral fellow, 12 graduate students, and 9 undergraduates.

Brief reports from each group are available below:

UC MERCI Rapid Grand Research Report (PDF)